The local economy in regional towns like Bendigo needs an efficient and innovative distribution set-up in order for local businesses to thrive, get supplies from the city and distribute their goods locally and into the large centres of population.
One operation over two hours north of Melbourne is based on a small industrial estate on the edge of Bendigo. Damian and Emma Power run Power’s Country Express. It is a strong local business covering Bendigo and Central Victoria, offering a specialised service across a broad range freight.
The Power’s operation is an involved part of the local community and recently carried the longest Imperial Dragon in the world to Bendigo for the local Chinese community and has truck curtains promoting the Golden Dragon museum in Bendigo’s Chinatown.
A number of other trucks have been branded in support of the local community organisations. Apart from the Golden Dragon Museum, some of the trucks are promoting Bendigo Heritage and the Central Deborah Gold Mine. There are also a series of trucks whose curtains are publicising safety around bicycles bicycles in the city, in association with VicRoads.
The most recent initiative has been a truck branded up by Power’s to promote the Bendigo Health Foundation to raise money for the local hospital in Bendigo.
“What we put into the local community, we get back in spades because Bendigo is a small local community with a population around 110,000,” says Damien.
Growing the Business
The nature of distribution in this area means that there is a lot more freight coming out of Melbourne to be delivered into the Bendigo area than there is coming from that area and going into Melbourne.
The town of Bendigo is moving away from its much more industrial past into an era where there are many more people in the city who actually work in Melbourne and others who are telecommuters. There are twenty one trains a day heading from the city into Melbourne, which suggests that there are plenty of people commuting from Bendigo. This means there are more consumers in the area and fewer producers in the area, hence the inbalance in freight flow.
The local economy is being stimulated by infrastructure projects like the a major hospital which has recently be completed in the city. The gold mine is still producing and employing a large number of people. This city is also home to the headquarters of the Bendigo Bank and other similar institutions are also basing themselves in the city.
“We have been lucky because we have had a relatively stable workforce,” says Damien. “when we are actually looking for people, we find there are not many people with sufficient experience. There is not a lot of young people who want to get into the industry. We haven’t had women applying for any of our jobs either and that would be something that we would be looking for.
“We have got a couple of young guys who have moved up through the ranks. One of them started seven years ago, as a casual, and he has stepped up every time we needed him to. Now he will be running the shed and doing my job when I’m away. We have got quite a few who are like that.
“We have now reached the size where we can have a management structure that means I don’t have to be hands on all of the time in the business. We get a lot of our work from a few customers, but recently, because we have opened our depot in Melbourne, we have been able to extend the type of work we do for new customers here in Bendigo.”
“Our development has been a steady climb so far, we would like to just develop within our current focus, without expanding too much. More of the same, I guess, but who knows what may come along down the track. There may be some warehouse or storage offering, if needed. Something like that may be on the radar, and there are not a lot of people in this area with the expertise who are doing that sort of thing.”