After thirty years with another American brand, Peter Hill finally decided to give Mack a go. Now he has three Super-Liners and seven Tridents in his fleet.
Since starting out in 1995 with three trucks, Hills Tankers have grown to become one of the largest family-owned fuel tanker fleets in the country. They deliver fuel from most of the major oil companies to locations right around Australia’s east coast.
In June 2016 they suddenly found themselves being asked to manage several massive contracts and had to expand rapidly.
“That’s the way of it,” says Managing Director Peter Hill, “a bunch of contracts all turned up at the wrong time together, so we had to rise to the occasion.”
To service these contracts, Hills needed to add 21 trucks to their fleet in just five months. Having experienced significant technical issues with another brand’s EGR engines, Peter was determined to give another manufacturer a chance, Mack was the obvious choice for a bonneted truck.
“It’s a numbers game for us,” says Peter, “we know exactly what every truck is going to do well in advance, so we arranged 28-month Operating Leases with Mack. We’ll run them for 28 months then hand them back, and in that time they’ll do just under a million kilometres.”
The Hills fleet delivers fuel to coastal locations as far apart as Melbourne and Mackay and inland as far west as Alice Springs. The Mack Tridents are mostly employed in 19-metre configurations, servicing regions such as the Hunter Valley and south-eastern Queensland, while the Super-Liners do the long-distance work.
“Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Mackay, we’re all up and down the eastern seaboard,” says Peter, “and we’re tracking the trucks using Mack Telematics which comes as part of the Service Agreement we have with Mack. The drivers find the latest models with the Radd GR suspension far more comfortable to drive, and although a lot of them were used to manuals, they’ve taken to the mDRIVE automated manual transmission just fine.”
When you have every journey nailed down in advance to the kilometre, making sure your trucks cover those kilometres reliably is critical. Hills rely on their service agreement with Mack to keep their trucks on the road.
“Mack does all the servicing for us,” says Peter, “we drop the truck off on the weekend and it’s ready to go again on Monday, and that’s what I need: certainty that the truck will always be working to schedule.”
Some Mack owners have a strong emotional connection to their trucks, but at Hills it’s all about reliability and efficiency.
“We have a known monthly cost for the truck, and predictable operating and servicing costs, and this makes business a lot easier to manage. If I’m honest, we turned to Macks to get away from the other brand, but we’re happy with the decision.”
And if Hills win another couple of contracts like they did this year?
“We don’t want to have to keep expanding at the rate we did this year,” says Peter, “but if we do we’ll certainly be getting a few more Macks.”