Mick and Michelle De Winter run a small landscaping and tipper business among the sugar cane in the quiet backwater of Jacobs Well in the middle of a large sugar cane growing area of the Gold Coast.
Standing at the IWS Haulage business premises in the Northern Gold Coast it does not look or feel like an area which many would envisage as being on the Gold Coast. The settlement is isolated from all of the hustle and bustle of the glitter strip by being surrounded by a large area of sugar cane farms. It is more like a small country town in its feel, than the brash bling of somewhere like Surfers Paradise, less than 30 km to the South.
Although isolated, the business is well situated in terms of business development. Really close to the resources needed by the construction industry and within easy reach of a lot of major construction and infrastructure development.
When the Pacific Highway was completely rebuilt as an eight lane highway in the late nineties the opportunities to grow the tipper and dog side of the business really kicked into gear. Later, the decision to go into the business of landscapes supplies, utilising the fleet, has also turned out to be a timely idea as construction and development boomed in SE Queensland.
Mick De Winter started IWS Haulage in 1995. While small, this family‐owned and operated business does well in the supply of wholesale sand and landscape products, including regular sub‐contracting work for Holcim. His fleet comprises 10 PBS truck and quad dog tipper combinations.
The operation is based on a site just on the edge of Jacobs Well in an area which was a bit of a backwater when they first set up. However, its location in countryside in easy commuting distance to both Brisbane and the Gold Coast means it is an area on the up.
“We always knew we were out here too early,” says Mick. “But if you left it any longer, we would never have been able to afford to set ourselves up here.”
I’m a Country Boy
Originally brought up on a farm in Gatton, Mick move down to the Gold Coast in 1994. The family farming business was struggling during a long drought on the farm with no access to alternative water. He managed to lease the land out to a next door neighbour and decided to try his luck down on the Gold Coast.
“I thought, well I’m a country boy and I can turn my hand to just about anything,” says Mick. “I started with water trucks, 25 years ago. I didn’t know how to drive a Roadranger until I went and bought a truck. It was a good way to start, I reckon, because if you can deliver around the Gold Coast in a water truck, you can get a truck into anywhere. I think coming from the farm, I was willing to have a go at anything.”
“We got up to a few trucks and by that time we were buying them with tipper bodies and then sliding water tanks onto the back of them. That lead to us getting into the tipper game.”
It was around this time Mick had met his now wife, Michelle, through a mutual friend. She was a Gatton girl and more than a little bit familiar with the trucking business. Her father was Terry Nolan, from Nolans Interstate Transport, a trucking industry icon.
Mick had left home at a very young age and Terry became a bit of a mentor figure to them, encouraging them in their endeavour to develop the business and offering advice from his wide experience and offering help when it was needed.
“People say to me stuff like, ‘your business is doing alright,’ and I have to tell them, when I sit down at the Christmas dinner table and have a look around, I’m the underachiever!” jokes Mick.