This liquid load specialist shows no signs of slowing down.
Stuart and June McColl launched McColl’s Milk Transport in 1952 with a pair of trucks collecting milk from dairy farmers around Port Fairy.
This year, McColl’s reports a turnover of more than $200 million with 26 depots across the country, six workshops and a fleet comprising more than 250 prime movers, 800 trailers and 650 staff.
The couple started a journey which current CEO and part-owner Simon Thornton.
This is Thornton’s second time around at McColl’s. His first was in 2009 when he joined as CEO, hired by the private equity owners to help transform the business.
It was Thornton’s introduction to the truck and transport industry, after having built a career as a business leader focused on heavy machinery, farm equipment and company turnarounds.
He left in 2014 after five years’ service, which included the celebration of the business’s 60th anniversary, attended by Stuart and June.
“I went away for four years and at the end of the four years, the private equity firm, which was KKR at the time, came back and said ‘you thought you’d be a good owner for this business, do you still want it?’ And I said, ‘yeah, I do’,” said Thornton.
He rallied friends, mainly alumni from when he started studying Commerce at Melbourne University in 1988, and the Friesians investment group was formed.
“We call ourselves Friesian because we think of McColl’s as like a dairy cow, not like a steer, an Angus or a Hereford that’s being fattened up for market.
“We just think if you have a company, and you look after it and you nurture it and you build it over time, then it becomes a force within itself.
“So, we’re now five years in and it’s been an exciting ride, kind of restoring McColl’s to the path it was on originally under family ownership.”
Since 2018 McColl’s has invested more than $30 million in high productivity state-of-the-art A-double tankers, and millions of dollars into new trucks, new depots, tanker washes and technology that enables the business to minimise downtime and reduce wasted kilometres across its nationwide network.
Thornton describes McColl’s as a values-driven business with a mission to deliver a transport service unmatched in safety, quality, compliance and reliability.
McColl’s core values are: safety first, honesty and integrity, consistency, mutual respect and commercial responsibility.
They are values, according to Thornton, that are ingrained in the hiring, the processes, the purchases and the relationships the business has with its long-term partners.