“It’s all about the driver now and I’ve been a bit old school,” says Kent Baillie, Managing Director of Mt Isa Carriers, an operation from Pittsworth in Queensland, hauling general freight West from Brisbane into all of the remote areas of that vast state.
“I think they’re spoiled, compared to what we had, when I started working. People can’t believe that I ran to Darwin without a bunk. That’s just what we had to do, and now we’ve got tracking on everything. The new trucks have got bloody TVs and microwaves. On the Macks, we’re running the 60-inch sleeper and the Volvo’s the XXL.
“The whole scope of the industry has changed. Like the fatigue management and everything else. Do I agree with it 100 per cent? No. Do I think it’s working? Yes. I think it could be made somewhat easier on the driver. I would like to see us go the way of WA, where the focus is not on the driver, it’s on the company. Having someone like me say these things, it puts more focus on me, but at least then it forces businesses to do the right thing. We’re a small business and we do the right thing. So why can’t others?
“I think with electronic work diaries, we’re going to end up there. We’ll have electronic diaries ready before the end of 2023. I’m all for it. We do trip plans now. I want to do it, to make sure that these boys are not pushed. Everyone knows our schedule and we’re pretty good at it.
“If it helps clear out the scum out of the industry, which I think still needs to happen. I just think government’s got it wrong. They’re targeting drivers instead of companies. In WA, they go straight to the company. You would see these big companies forced to change, because the focus would be on them. By all accounts, what WA is doing, it’s working, I’ve been following it pretty closely.”
Mt Isa Carriers has 27 trucks on the road and there are 52 staff altogether. The largest depot is at Mount Isa, because it’s a receiving depot where there are van drivers, body truck drivers, semi drivers.
“This year I brought on a general manager, he’s an ex-corporate exec and he’s helped us make even further changes, because he understands the systems,” says Kent. “Then I’ve got Darren in here handling operations and I’d be lost without him. Five years ago, I was doing all this myself and now Cassie, my wife has come in here and taken a heap off me, as well.
“You only survive by change, you’ve got to constantly change. It’s the little things that these guys handle for me, they’re picking up things that used to take up time, and we’ve had another record year. The whole scope of buying has changed now. Somewhere like Mount Isa and the surrounding area have discovered online shopping. The parcel freight in 2022 tripled, so we’ve changed from the old notes and gone electronic
“We use TransVirtual, and it tells me everything. We used to have customers ring up and say, could you send a POD? That would take time, but now they can have it within minutes of delivery. Because we’re agents for various customers, we’ve got it set up so it appears as an offline consignment note under the customer’s name.
“We also went over to Xero and now everything’s live real time. We can invoice and bill every day. When I go back 10 or 15 years ago, at the end of the month we’re sitting around the kitchen table with a pile of paper until two o’clock in the morning, and we were tired. That was a big killer years ago, cash flow.”