Since taking the reins at Scully RSV in July 2017, Avraam Solomon is building on firm foundations, on a mission to create the country’s most successful refrigerated truck hire business. Paul Matthei caught up with Avraam at the company’s Brisbane facility to discover more about his lofty ambitions, for Diesel News.
It’s a tried and true recipe for success: Acquire an already well-established business and scale the systems to enable growth in sync with the rising demands of the marketplace. While it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, it sure beats the alternative of starting a business from scratch.
This is precisely the formula adopted by Avraam Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Scully Refrigerated Special Vehicles (Scully RSV), which specialises in the manufacture, sale, hire and repair of refrigerated trucks with body sizes from two to 14 pallets.
A self-confessed ‘foodie’, Avraam has been involved in the food service industry since the early 1980s when his father founded a refrigerated transport business in Brisbane. Since then the Solomon name has remained, in a number of forms, a prominent part of the food service community in the River City.
It’s this wealth of experience in food supply circles along with a close association with Scully RSV’s previous owner and founder, Damien Scully, that led Avraam to his latest challenge of growing Scully RSV into the premier refrigerated truck hire business in the country.
“I was probably one of Damien Scully’s largest customers over a 15 to 20 year period,” Avraam explains. “My family’s refrigerated transport business was started with one truck in 1983 and we ended up with over 100 trucks. That first truck was supplied by Damien Scully not long after he started in the industry when he was a teenager. So the Solomons and the Scullys have a relationship dating back almost 30 years.”
After building it up to the 100-plus truck level, the Solomon family decided to sell their business which left Avraam in the position of sourcing a new challenge.
“At the time, Damien Scully was looking to divest his business, so he rang me and we negotiated a deal,” says Avraam. “He retained a share of the company and I brought some other investors into the business, people who were well-attuned to the food and hire industries.”
It all came together in July 2017 and since then Avraam says it has been a steep learning curve for him in regards to running a truck hire business.
“Some of our investors have extensive experience with hire businesses and we have the refrigerated transport experience so everything dove-tailed together really well,” he explains. “Knowing the requirements of the food service industry across Australia, I believe there is a golden opportunity for us to grow the most successful refrigerated hire business in the country.”
To put into perspective how much the business has grown since the takeover, Avraam says Damien Scully was building close to 80 trucks per year whereas the business is now on target to finish around 250 trucks per year, with the goal of 400 to 500 per year in the not-too-distant future.
Producing this sort of volume obviously requires more workshop space and manpower, both of which are steadily being ramped up to meet requirements. Avraam is quick to point out that the growth will not happen at the expense of profitability, and he credits the previous owner with providing a solid foundation on which to grow the business.
“Damien did an amazing job of streamlining the business and we’ve learnt from him about what we need to do as we grow and strive to keep the success the same,” says Avraam.
As this story was being printed, Scully RSV was expanding its operations to include the property next door which Avraam suggested would provide the means to produce a further 150 bodies per year.
“We’re building a new office at the front, it’s not about getting fancy it’s just about getting more space. We can only build so many trucks in the original premises and our demand requires us to build twice as many,” he explains, adding that the long-term plan is to have a new purpose-built facility near Larapinta, an industrial precinct west of Brisbane.
“That is probably a few years away,” he suggests. “We want to first expand next door and learn how to grow to the next level so that we can build the larger factory right when the time comes. We believe this will enable us to supply branches in all the capital cities with enough ready-to-go stock and hire units to satisfy nationwide customer demand.”