Hands-on Han­nah

Direc­tor Scott Han­nah is still happy to work at ev­ery level and his re­gard for tech­nol­ogy and com­pli­ance is high

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS RICKY FRENCH

Direc­tor Scott Han­nah is still happy to work at ev­ery level and his re­gard for tech­nol­ogy and com­pli­ance is high

As far as yards go, the west­ern Syd­ney premises that Han­nah’s Haulage oc­cupy would have to be one of the more un­usual. Lo­cated in his­toric River­stone, on the bor­der of city and coun­try, the build­ings were an abat­toir in their for­mer life and the land is set in a de­pres­sion that can some­times flood up to the first floor win­dow. Farm­land laps at the mar­gins and dis­used train tracks give a ghostly feel.

For direc­tor Scott Han­nah, the place has done him well – it’s cheap for one thing – but it’s time to move on.

He’s just bought two and a half acres nearby in Rouse Hill, where he’ll be build­ing his new yard to run Han­nah’s Haulage and his ware­hous­ing arm, Plat­inum Ware­hous­ing.

With 26 prime movers, 40 trail­ers and a turnover around the $10 mil­lion mark, the $4 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the new premises makes sense.

Fift y per cent of the busi­ness is in­ter­state line-haul around the east coast, 20 per cent is ser­vic­ing the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, mostly with

crane trucks cart­ing pipes, and the re­main­der is lo­cal and ware­hous­ing.

Things weren’t al­ways look­ing so rosy for Han­nah, though. In fact, to still be here – let alone be in this po­si­tion – is noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle con­sid­er­ing the calamity the busi­ness faced only six years ago.


A me­chanic by trade, Han­nah was driv­ing trucks by 21 and bought his first six-ton­ner in 2000. The busi­ness rapidly grew as it took on a ma­jor cus­tomer, Couri­ers Please.

Buy­outs and takeovers meant that Hills Trans­port even­tu­ally be­came Han­nah’s ma­jor cus­tomer un­til DHL bought it up and closed it down, leav­ing Han­nah with a bunch of trucks but no cus­tomers. He puts it sim­ply: “I went back to noth­ing.” While you could for­give Han­nah for pack­ing things in or al­low­ing the stress of the sit­u­a­tion to get to him, nei­ther is his style. His calm de­meanour saw him eval­u­ate the prob­lem and work through so­lu­tions step by step.

“I made phone calls, went back to driv­ing the trucks,” he says. “That didn’t bother me. I got work from some peo­ple I knew. We ba­si­cally just looked peo­ple up in the phone book.”

Even­tu­ally, more work rolled in. Han­nah’s got Visy to load them out of Shep­par­ton, slowly won more cus­tomers as word of mouth got around. But equally im­por­tant to win­ning new cus­tomers was to save money, and it’s here where Han­nah is truly a mas­ter.


Han­nah saved by do­ing his own main­te­nance on the trucks, helped by his fa­ther, him­self a truck driver.

A lot of the work would be done at home on Han­nah’s five-acre block. With his pre­vi­ous trail­ers all be­ing sup­plied by Hills, he was also left trailer-less.

He bought cheap, sec­ond-hand trail­ers and fixed them up him­self, then suf­fered a sec­ond set­back when one of the trail­ers he had spent $12,000 re­pair­ing was stolen.

Sec­ond-hand trucks were also the or­der of the day; he bought his first new truck only three years ago. Be­ing in the River­stone premises has meant cheaper rent and ware­hous­ing costs.

The ware­hous­ing arm was struc­tured around long-term stor­age – one cus­tomer has more than 2000 tonnes of wash­ing pow­der that’s been sit­ting there for four years – free­ing up the ware­house man­ager to get out and drive the

trucks, re­duc­ing labour costs. Some trail­ers are used for ad­ver­tis­ing.

“A trailer is re­ally a big bill­board,” Han­nah says. “If some­one wants to pay for it, happy days.”

Trailer main­te­nance is still done on site by a con­tract me­chanic, with Han­nah al­ways on hand to cast his eye over brake drums and other fre­quently re­placed parts.

He still loves get­ting his hands dirty and in­spect­ing the gear, see­ing which pads are worn and which ones still have meat on them.

Hav­ing driv­ers on set runs also saves on costs, as there is less time spent sched­ul­ing.

“Our stuff is all one drop, one pick up, so we can do that man­u­ally quite eas­ily,” he says. “But our growth has meant we’ll need to get a sys­tem soon.”


Han­nah says he used to run pri­mar­ily Amer­i­can, and he still has a soft spot for his 2007 West­ern Star with a CAT15.

“It’s got a plat­inum re­build, new gear­box, new clutch. I’m go­ing to put a new set of diffs in. It’s done a cou­ple of mil­lion kilo­me­tres. We’ll keep the old girl, she’ll go back on the road.”

Han­nah says he looked around for a prod­uct that would bet­ter suit the gen­eral fleet and de­cided to go with Volvo. He’s got 20 now; mainly 600 Glo­be­trot­ters, but also 540s, 500s, 450s and one 700.

He also has what he be­lieves may be the only B-dou­ble crane truck, which han­dles his con­struc­tion freight.

Han­nah can’t speak highly enough of the ser­vice pro­vided by Volvo. “They treat you like fam­ily,” he says. He’s gone from spend­ing ev­ery week­end in his over­alls do­ing his own main­te­nance to us­ing Volvo’s full-con­tract main­te­nance.

“Their af­ter­sales sup­port is ex­cep­tional. Plus the fuel econ­omy is good, there’s plenty of room in the cabs and plenty of power.”


But it’s the Volvo-sup­plied fleet man­age­ment sys­tem, Dy­nafleet, that Han­nah is par­tic­u­larly rapt with.

For a start, it saves him from hav­ing to buy or lease a more ex­pen­sive sys­tem and gear it to his re­quire­ments. From his iPad, Han­nah has all the in­for­ma­tion about the fleet at his fin­ger­tips.

“It tells you ex­actly how ev­ery truck is run­ning,” he says.

Han­nah opens the iPad and brings up de­tails for one truck and runs down the list of pa­ram­e­ters.

“This is the last seven days’ fuel econ­omy for this truck, the car­bon foot­print, to­tal run­ning time, per­cent­age of time spent in top gear, en­gine load­ing, over-speed, even how many times the driver has touched the brakes. It’s all here, all mon­i­tored.”

The think­ing be­hind this is a kind of gam­i­fi­ca­tion: turn­ing a job into a type of game to drive im­prove­ments.

Driv­ers can now ‘com­pete’ with each other to see who is the bet­ter driver, and who might have spent a lit­tle too much time idling to keep the heater run­ning.

An es­sen­tial fea­ture for some­one who keeps such a close watch on costs is the fi­nance ap­pli­ca­tion of Dy­nafleet.

“Com­pli­ance is ev­ery­thing. If you don’t have it you won’t have a job in two years”

“You put your costs in for ev­ery truck. It gives you a pie chart with de­pre­ci­a­tion, monthly re­pay­ments, ev­ery­thing like that.

“It means that you can punch in your costs when you’re go­ing for a new con­tract and it will tell you how many cents per kilo­me­tre you need to pay for the truck.”


Han­nah has a word of ad­vice for young driv­ers start­ing out: get com­pli­ant. It’s some­thing he’s never had a prob­lem with, though. If any­thing, keep­ing up with the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) has opened up op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“There are new com­pli­ance reg­u­la­tions for be­ing al­lowed on gov­ern­ment sites, and un­less you’ve got them you won’t be get­ting on site,” he says.

“It means that next year there will be a lot of peo­ple who won’t be able to work. If you’re not com­pli­ant with NHVR, you just won’t be get­ting in.”

Han­nah’s Haulage is ac­cred­ited un­der Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Scheme (NHVAS) and Han­nah is al­ready pe­rus­ing the NSW com­pli­ance changes be­ing brought in next year to make sure he’s ready.

“We’ve got our own safety and com­pli­ance soft­ware, For­mCon­nect, which we’ve per­son­alised for us. We can show this to NHVR.”

Han­nah be­lieves his strict ad­her­ence to stay­ing abreast with the ever-in­creas­ing com­pli­ance stan­dards will win him jobs go­ing for­ward. He also be­lieves the time has come for a search­able reg­is­ter of com­pli­ant op­er­a­tors to be­come avail­able.

“It’s not easy to find blokes who are com­pli­ant. It’s still word of mouth. Com­pli­ance is ev­ery­thing. If you don’t have it you won’t have a job in two years.”


Driv­ers at Han­nah’s Haulage know they can ring the boss at any time. In fact, they’re ex­pected to if they’re ever un­sure about any­thing. Han­nah’s ex­pe­ri­ence and know-how gen­er­ally means he

solves prob­lems, such as an awk­ward tie- down or bro­ken equip­ment, from a pho­to­graph and a brief chat.

“The driv­ers know to send me a photo and ask, ‘Is this right?’ They won’t move un­til they check with me.”

Many driv­ers are young, in­clud­ing 27-year- old Amanda Mof­fitt.

“Amanda was hon­est with us when she ap­plied. She said she didn’t have much ex­pe­ri­ence, but that was fi ne. We’ll give her that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In­vest­ing in young tal­ent means they haven’t learnt bad habits, and that Han­nah can train them as they go.

Han­nah’s wife, Julie, is ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager at the busi­ness and knows the im­por­tance of hav­ing a good team around you.

“We’re good lis­ten­ers and we’re not afraid to re­train peo­ple and shape them into a new role.”

She’s seen Scott go through the good times and the bad: “Scott is a mas­ter­mind. He knows the in­dus­try so well, not just from a trans­port per­spec­tive but as a me­chanic. His knowl­edge is pro­found and he’s able to use that knowl­edge to save money. He’s very clever and very calm.”

It’s no sur­prise to hear Julie de­scribe her hus­band as calm. You’d have to be to pick your­self up af­ter los­ing vir­tu­ally all your busi­ness in one hit. But Scott Han­nah isn’t one to shy away from do­ing what needs to be done. He’s learned lessons along the way, num­ber one be­ing don’t put all your eggs in one bas­ket. He doesn’t mind dish­ing out a few sur­prises, and fin­ishes with a story.

“This guy drove in the yard this morn­ing and I was on fork­lift un­load­ing a truck. He comes up and asks if he can speak to the owner. I said to the guy, ‘That’s me.’ And the guy just looked at me and said, ‘You’re jok­ing.’”

“We’re good lis­ten­ers, and we’re not afraid to re­train peo­ple and shape them into a new role”

Op­po­site top and bot­tom: Julie and Scott Han­nah; Con­struc­tion trans­port makes up around 20 per cent of Han­nah’s Haulage’s busi­ness

Above: Scott Han­nah with his ‘old girl’, a 2007 West­ern Star with a CAT15; Mini­ture Volvo proudly dis­played in Han­nah’s colours

Op­po­site: Scott Han­nah, direc­tor of Han­nah’s Haulage Above: Han­nah in the busy River­stone yard

Clock­wise from top left: A me­chanic by trade, Scott Han­nah still likes get­ting his hands dirty; A trailer in for an in-house ser­vice; The Plat­inum Ware­hous­ing arm of the busi­ness. Wash­ing pow­der stor­age on right

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