When Damien Matthews wanted to pay tribute to his father, he went back to his roots and bought the kind of truck he knew would make his dad proud: a Mack Super-Liner.
Damien Matthews is a practical man. As the Managing Director of GTS Freight Management and G1 Logistics, he’s intensely focussed on keeping the supermarkets and bottle shops of the east coast of Australia stocked with wine, beer and food.
But when faced with buying what he calls ‘the last truck’ for GTS Freight Management, Damien saw an opportunity to pay tribute to his father Don, who started the Mildura-based business back in 1980.
“We’re not planning on expanding the GTS fleet any further, so this will be the last truck we buy under the GTS banner,” says Damien, “Dad started GTS as Gol Gol Transport Service back in 1980, so we wanted to do something special. He’s always had a soft spot for Macks, so we though we’d make the last GTS truck a Mack.”
And not just any Mack. Damien went to local Mack dealers Mark and Brad Johnson and put together a detailed specification for a very special Super-Liner in consultation with Mack Australia.
“We wanted it to have the best options available to represent the GTS brand proudly,” says Damien, “and it’s certainly a popular truck, and not just with the driver—everywhere it goes it gets lots of attention.”
The Super-Liner is a top-of-the-range truck, with a 685hp MP10 engine, mDRIVE automated manual transmission, and a 52-inch Hi Rise sleeper. It’s an all-Mack driveline, featuring Mack rear axles and suspension, qualifying it for the distinctive Gold Bulldog on the bonnet. Even the maintenance will be handled by Mack under a service agreement.
“It’s got plenty of chrome and LEDs all over it,” says Damien, “and we custom-built the trailer as well to fit within the length restrictions. We reckon we’ll get five years and probably 1.2 million kilometres out of it.”
The Super-Liner is set up as a B-Double hauling 34 pallets, and has been busy since day one plying the highways between the GTS depot in Mildura and Australia’s big cities. Carrying 68 tonnes of wine, beer and food, the truck’s route takes it from the wine areas of the Barossa Valley in South Australia and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales all the way up to Brisbane and down to Melbourne.
Positioned roughly midway between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, Mildura is the ideal location for an Australian logistics operation. Sitting just across the Murray River in New South Wales is the town of Gol Gol, which is where Don Matthews started Gol Gol Transport Services nearly forty years ago.
Under Damien’s guidance since 1990, the company has developed into a major fleet as GTS Freight Management, and expanded into warehousing with G1 Logistics.
“Dad started out with half a dozen trucks and trailers back then,” says Damien, “now we’ve got 150 trucks, 420 trailers and 280 staff, and under G1 Logistics we’ve set up a dozen warehouses in Mildura and Adelaide to give us the distribution points we need.”
Although GTS only run one other Mack, a 600hp Super-Liner, Damien isn’t ruling out buying more of them for G1 Logistics in the future.
“Mack has a really good product,” says Damien, “they’ve got a solid reputation for reliability, and they’re pretty competitive in fuel economy too. It’ll be interesting to see how the new one fares in comparison to our other Super-Liner.”
Dean Bestwick, Vice President Mack Trucks, came down to Mildura to hand over the keys to Damien personally.
“We get a lot of joy out of delivering a special truck like this one,” says Dean, “when a customer like Damien puts so much effort into specifying the truck, the people in the factory respond in kind. We’re incredibly proud of this Super-Liner, and it’s a fitting tribute to Damien’s father Don.”