Small operators are beginning to see some of the bigger trucking operators are talking to smaller companies about hauling their product. Jono DePaoli is based in Leeton, and his operation, JDP Logistics, has carved out a niche for itself hauling local produce out of the area to the capital cities, mainly Melbourne and Sydney, plus occasionally Brisbane.
Outside a couple of quite large operations in the area, many of the potential customers for a business like JDP Logistics are relatively small. However, Jono has noticed that some of the bigger trucking operators are now trying to move into the area and are talking to these smaller companies about hauling their product.
Small businesses like JDP Logistics have to be aware of this increased competition and the possibility that rate may be moving down as these larger companies move into the area.
“It’s the old industry story,” says Jono. “We need something to stop this problem. I don’t know how, I don’t have the answer, but if they had someone looking after transport companies who could say that you can’t run under a particular amount, but you can run anything above it. It would put this in a fair playing field.
“Then it would all be on the service that you provide. It would give a lot of us smaller companies the chance. As a small trucking company, there is no way that we could compete against some of the prices that they are putting on some of the jobs. It is absolutely ridiculous.”
When it comes to competing for freight contracts, one of the issues which often rears its head is that of safety systems. On this subject the larger national companies will point to sophisticated and integrated technical solutions to problems like fatigue. Jono sees the issue as a conflict between a technological solution and good old common sense.
“There are vibrating seats and the cameras watching the drivers,” says Jono. “There is no such thing as getting there at a certain time, if you are that tired. We pull up and we just change the time slot. There is no reason to push yourself, it might not be that they are being pushed, they could be crook, it could be 100 different things. Sitting down on a seat that vibrates is not going to fix it.
“I would rather my boys just pull up and have a couple of hours and I will deal with it later. I don’t think that my boys have ever run late for a time slot, I always give them enough time. I will not take on work if they are not allowing the right amount of time. It’s just not worth doing it.
“Years ago, I saw companies pushing drivers and it gets them nowhere. I used to see the drivers coming in, who were doing a Brisbane run and they were doing between 5000 and 7000km per week. I saw one bloke, a subbie, hopping out of an Aerodyne, he forgot he was in an Aerodyne fell flat onto the concrete. He insisted that he was okay, but I told him he was not and to get some rest.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to common sense. We’re only human, trucks are only nuts and bolts. An old bloke, years ago, told me if you are going to have a bloke who is going to do this job and do the right thing by you and look after his truck, he’s got to walk out and get excited about driving that truck. That’s why we try and do up our trucks the way they are. I have picked up two customers because of the way my trucks look.”