Based in Southern Sydney, Select Tilt Tray Group provides a specialised vehicle transportation service for a number of customers including Toyota industrial equipment. Diesel News’ Paul Matthei looks at a company which depends on a fleet of Hino trucks to ensure the ongoing requirements of hard-won clients are met on time, every time.
There’s no doubt that the ultimate success or otherwise of any trucking operation, regardless of what goods are transported, hinges on the level of service provided.
A number of interlinked elements come into play here, not least the calibre and responsibility of the drivers and the quality and reliability of the vehicles doing the work.
Often the second element mentioned here is easier to accomplish than the first, given that Australian truck operators are spoilt for choice when it comes to the range of quality new vehicles available in a plethora of different specifications to suit all requirements.
The human element needed to operate the vehicles, on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish; with factors including the industry-wide shortfall of skilled and work-ready drivers conspiring to make life somewhat difficult for companies seeking excellence in their transport operations.
For Chris O’Riordan, Director of Select Tilt Tray Group, the pattern has gone pretty much as presented in the aforementioned scenario, with the early positive experience of using Hino trucks cementing the brand’s place as the medium-duty vehicle of choice in the business.
Similarly, on the driver front, earlier headaches due to poor performance by some drivers led Chris to establish a team of contracted owner-drivers who naturally have a vested interest in the success of the business and therefore are more than willing to put their collective best feet forward during every working day.
In common with other businesses of this ilk, Select Tilt Tray Group was started by Chris with one truck after he had been working for a towing company for a number of years. Prior to this, he drove semi-trailers for a Sydney-based container and general freight business from 1975 to 1983.
Going back further still, Chris’s first job after he left school was with the Rural Bank.
“That was in the early ‘70s, long before computers, and I got out of that job and started driving trucks because I didn’t like the office environment,” he explains. “It’s funny how the wheel has turned full circle and here I am, once again, sitting in an office.”
Speaking about his experience in the towing industry, Chris reckons the time he spent in the early ‘80s was sufficient for him to realise that he was more suited to providing a top-shelf tilt-tray service for long-term clientele.
“In 1983 I started working for a towing company and eventually the owner wanted to sell one of his trucks so I decided to buy it and worked with him for a while,” Chris says. “My philosophy has always been that if you provide the best possible service the dollars will follow, so with that motivation pushing me forward I chose to strike out on my own.”
Chris started Select Tilt Tray Group around 26 years ago in 1994 with the same truck he’d bought from his previous employer. However, he soon discovered that his inherently high level of customer service was striking a chord, leading to more work than he could handle on his own with one truck.
“A mate of mine came for a run with me one day and heard me on the phone knocking back work that I couldn’t manage, so he suggested if I bought another truck he could come and work with me,” says Chris. “I decided to do that and still more work kept coming our way, so the business steadily grew from there.
“After we took on our fifth truck the business was starting to get a bit difficult to manage and I was having issues with drivers not turning up for work and so forth, so that’s when I decided to change the business model to an owner-driver base.
“We sold off all but two of the trucks and took on owner-drivers in their place and after that the business really took off. Today we have nearly all owner-drivers doing the work which is a far better system for us.”
Chris goes on to say that the owner-drivers in his business are all good hands and he says the decision to move the business in that direction was definitely a good one.
“I say to them, ‘the harder you work the more money you can make,’ and this is the mindset they all subscribe to,” says Chris