Australian Bulk Transport – “Impossible is nothing”

Australian Bulk Transport has a fleet of five Macks – an impressive achievement for a company that was established in late 2016 and has grown quickly on the commitment that is emblazoned on the side of each of their trucks: ‘Impossible is nothing.’

It wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but being let down by a supplier during the installation of an underground fuel tank was enough to plant the seed for Peter McClelland. Bulk delivery needed a shake up, and there was room for a company that put its customers first.  

Peter recalls that day. 

“I was working as a project manager and had two cranes and 12 workers on site, three 55,000-litre fuel tanks due to arrive and we needed to have bedding stands underneath those tanks ready to go so that we weren't wasting any time or money. I got a phone call from the supplier that morning saying that they weren’t going to get there until later in the afternoon,” he says. 

The delay cost more than $20,000, and it wasn’t the first experience of being let down for Peter McClelland and his business partner Michael Murray. They decided to pool their combined four decades of experience in civil work to start Australian Bulk Transport. Based in Minto, the company hauls quarry and sand between Sydney and Newcastle for small-to-medium-sized businesses.

Reliability is key

“Michael and I saw the consequences of poor reliability, because we’d been customers as well. For us, we do what we say we are going to do and it's as simple as that. When customers call to tell us what they want and when, the answer is yes, and we just make it happen," says Peter. 

“Without customers, you don't have a business. I suppose that is what we focus on quite hard,” he says. 

A big part of reliability is having a fleet that’s always on the road and that made the choice of Mack easy. 

“We have a good relationship with Mack,” says Michael, “and we like the idea of their workshop being open 24 hours a day. It’s a massive plus for us in this business to minimise downtime when our trucks need servicing. We can drop them off at 4pm and pick them up again in the early hours of the morning." 
 
“There is no other workshop in Sydney that does that,” Michael adds.

Built for the application 
 
When it came to selecting a truck, Michael and Peter were intently focused on their application, and consulting with Mack was an important part of the process. As a result, the company now has three Super-Liners and two Tridents in a truck-and-dog configuration designed specifically for the task. 

“We built the trucks to suit the job,” says Michael. “A lot of it was about getting maximum capacity and weight on the trucks so we can deliver the largest amount of material we can to our clients in order to meet their requirements,” explains Peter. “It started with the consultation with Jarrod at Mack, where we went through what we needed and why.” 
  
“We went for the Super-Liner because of the distances being the biggest motor in the fleet. Fuel efficiency is another thing we looked at heavily, because that is obviously our biggest cost,” Michael said. 
 
“The M-Drive was also big thing for us. Once we drove it we were very impressed because once we get back into Sydney it can be chaotic in the traffic. Our boys love having the ease of the automatic,” he said. 
   
Aftersales support is vital

Both owners say that an ongoing relationship with Mack has been vital to their success. 

“We have a Mack customer support person who sees us on a regular basis to make sure we are getting what we want and need to that we can pass on that reliability to our clients,” says Peter. 
   
Australian Bulk Transport also signed up for the Ultimate Service Agreement, which Peter says is a “massive plus,” because the fixed costs for servicing enable them to estimate their total operating cost in advance. 
 
“It gives us an understanding of what our actual costs will be as far as the day-to-day running of the truck. We know how much fuel costs, we know how much tyres are going to be, but service is one of those things we really couldn't gauge on costs,” says Michael. 
 
"It's a massive plus for us. We know exactly what our costs are for the next four or five years," says Michael, while Peter says the fixed costs enable him to make business decisions about where to invest.  

Both Michael and Peter, along with their business partner Brett George from Patriot Environmental, see themselves growing with the loyal customer base. 

“We concentrate on the small-to-medium-sized companies. We’re all about the mum and dad business who is looking for a reliable long-term partner," says Peter. “We’re looking for the company that is going to be around for the next 20 years and not for the next 3 or 4 months.
Mack take the same long-term approach.”