Canberra-based TJS Transport has come a long way since it was founded 20 years ago. What started as a one-tonne ute operation around the Canberra area has grown into 32-fleet operation connecting Canberra to Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Newcastle.
Joel Stewart and his sister, Melissa, are now directors of the business started by their parents, Lyn and Terry Stewart. In February 2017, the company took delivery of its first Mack – a Super-Liner MP10.
Joel explains that the purchase was a joint decision.
“My dad loves Volvos and their running gear. I like trucks that have an American-style look with the chrome like the Mack has. So between the two of us, it seemed like a natural choice.”
Reliability that Mack’s known for
Configured as a B-double pulling two tautliners exclusively on the Canberra-Sydney run, the new Super-Liner has already notched up 92,000 km.
Right from the start, the truck has lived up to Mack’s reputation for reliability.
“Its reliability has been faultless. We have an in-house mechanic who’s been doing its regular servicing every 20,000km. Not a single thing wrong,” he says.
And it seems that TJS’s in-house mechanic is also sold on the Super-Liner.
“Of all our trucks, it’s become one of his favourites to work on,” laughs Joel.
“Not only has it been problem-free, but he tells me that it’s got by far the most room to work in and around of all our trucks.”
Not just salespeople
Joel can’t speak highly enough of the sales and service team at Southern Trucks, Queanbeyan, in particular, Aaron Lewis.
“Aaron was the one who sold us the truck. He’s such an easy guy to deal with,” says Joel.
“After we spoke with him, he knew exactly what we wanted. Three months later, the truck turned up, built for purpose. He even managed to push out the length to within two inches of the 26-metre guidelines we had to stick to.
“Something that has really impressed me has been the effort that the team at Southern have made to keep in touch. Rather than making a sale and then forgetting about us, we get a quick call every fortnight to make sure everything is good with the truck.”
It’s all about comfort and ease
Joel reserves the Super-Liner for just one driver. With him on the road five days a week clocking up 4,000 km, driver comfort is not negotiable. So when Joel ordered the Super-Liner, he made sure it was fitted with a 60” sleeper cabin.
“The sleeper cabin is nice and roomy and has all the creature comforts. It really does,” he says, “but do you want to know what I like most?” he asks. “That upright fridge in it… It wins by a mile!” he answers laughing.
Sheer horsepower means faster travel times
For Joel, one of the standout features of his Super-Liner is the 685 horsepower that it delivers.
“It’s by far the best pulling truck in the yard. With 65 horsepower more than any of the other trucks we have, nothing beats it,” he explains.
Like the sleeper cabin, Joel sees the main advantage of the extra horsepower to be driver comfort.
“The Canberra-Sydney roundtrip normally takes about six hours. The extra horsepower that the Super-Liner delivers has shaved about half an hour off that trip. The driver needs to take less breaks and arrives more refreshed,” he says.
mDRIVE – it makes a truck drive like a car
Joel’s Super-Liner is fitted with mDRIVE, Mack’s automated manual gear box. It ticks yet another box.
“It makes the truck so much easier to drive. I’m not exaggerating when I say it drives more like a big car than a truck. That’s why my driver loves it.
“Not only does our driver arrive more refreshed, but because he’s not focused on changing gears, mDRIVE also lets him concentrate more on the road. Driver safety is big deal for us. Anything that adds to it is something we want to be a part of,” adds Joel.
A family affair
Joel saves his last words for a third-generation love affair with Macks.
“Not only is my father sold on this truck, but the kids are also getting in on the act. We’ve actually named the truck ‘Calm bet’ – each letter being the first letter of my seven kids!” laughs Joel.
Judging by all the hats and t-shirts that his kids have collected, Joel thinks there’s a distinct possibility that a third generation is just waiting in the wings to be a part of the Mack family.
“Once you’re hooked, you’re pretty much hooked for life. And it’s looking more and more like the kids are hooked. In fact, I’d say it’s more than a calm bet, it’s pretty much a sure bet!”
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