Labour of Lovatt

How Scott Lovatt fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps to build his own busi­ness

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS RICKY FRENCH

How Scott Lovatt fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps to build his own busi­ness

Scott Lovatt knows bet­ter than most what it’s like to learn from the best. Be­ing the son of Wil­liam ‘Billy’ Lovatt – a big name in the Sydney con­tainer trans­port game – means you come from good stock, but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily guar­an­tee suc­cess on its own.

Af­ter work­ing along­side his fa­ther for sev­eral years, Lovatt went out to gain more ex­pe­ri­ence – run­ning op­er­a­tions in a num­ber of trans­port com­pa­nies in Sydney.

How­ever, the last four years have seen Scott fo­cus on build­ing his own busi­ness, Scott Lovatt Con­tainer Cartage. The lessons he learnt from the old man, cou­pled with a wealth of con­tacts, knowl­edge of the trans­port world and a lot of hard work, has seen the new ven­ture flour­ish.

With 25 per cent growth a year, 10 trucks and a ded­i­cated team, Scott Lovatt is fo­cussed on grow­ing the Lovatt name to even loftier heights.

CON­TAIN­ERS IN THE BLOOD

Scott Lovatt went straight into the truck­ing game as a young man, spend­ing seven years with Billy, learn­ing the ropes and build­ing up ex­pe­ri­ence. He looks back on his early days with fond­ness. There was never a dull mo­ment.

“Billy is 100 miles an hour,” Lovatt says. “He’s old school and no non­sense. We have a great re­la­tion­ship and the skills he taught me are in­valu­able.”

But the time was al­ways go­ing to come when Scott Lovatt would have to go out alone to gain more ex­pe­ri­ence. He went out with Hobbs Bros for six years, run­ning their op­er­a­tions and adding to his for­mi­da­ble

book of con­tacts. He re­mem­bers the hec­tic days of load­ing packs of tim­ber com­ing off the wharf at Dar­ling Har­bour.

He also se­cured the Air­port tun­nel drilling ma­chine con­tract with the govern­ment. It was a huge project for a young bloke, but Lovatt has never been afraid to throw him­self in the deep end and trust in his abil­i­ties to get a job done.

Af­ter a brief pe­riod back work­ing with his dad, Lovatt re­turned to Hobbs for a 10-year stint be­fore they were bought out by another com­pany. The con­tacts he built up over those years meant he could hit the ground run­ning when the time came to go out on his own.

“I put a lot of work into my pre­vi­ous busi­ness and I gained many fan­tas­tic con­tacts and ex­pe­ri­ences,” he says.

THE EAR­LI­EST OF DAYS

Novem­ber marks the four-year an­niver­sary for Scott Lovatt Con­tainer Cartage. It be­gan with three trucks and a bunch of sub­bies. Twenty-five per cent growth every year has seen the busi­ness grow to 10 trucks and much less re­liance on sub­bies.

Noth­ing came easy, though. The early days were just that, with Lovatt ar­riv­ing to work at 4:30am and not leav­ing un­til 11:30pm.

“My wife was bring­ing me in food. It was stress­ful stuff,” he says.

Although he was do­ing nearly ev­ery­thing him­self, Jody Penny started work­ing of­fi­cially in of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion and ac­count­ing and learnt quickly to book jobs in the sys­tem. She is loyal and ded­i­cated to her role and her re­lent­lessly pos­i­tive at­ti­tude is clearly in­fec­tious.

TEAM BUILD­ING

“I love this job, it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” says Penny, who stresses how im­por­tant hav­ing the right peo­ple is. It’s one of the first things you no­tice when walk­ing through the door.

Vic­to­ria Ed­mond’s eye for de­tail and pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the work­place en­sures slot co-or­di­na­tion and cus­tomer re­la­tions run smoothly. Rob Lepre, ware­house man­ager, co-or­di­nates and over­sees his five hard-work­ing ware­house staff as they un­pack 12 con­tain­ers and load out up to 12 trucks a day.

Kieran Black is trans­port man­ager and a for­mer pro­fes­sional rugby player. Lovatt says Black is ac­cept­ing his new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with zeal.

Also vi­tal to the team is Corey Smith, who de­scribes his job ti­tle as “new boy”. Smith’s hu­mour fits right in to what is a tight team. They have a laugh but know that work is the pri­or­ity.

“All th­ese guys stay un­til the work is done. No one packs up un­less ev­ery­thing’s done.”

But Lovatt is no tyrant. He prides him­self with build­ing rap­port with ev­ery­one and ap­pre­ci­ates the lengths his staff go to. They have a big staff lunch every Fri­day, and ev­ery­one knows their con­tri­bu­tion is val­ued. Lovatt de­mands com­mit­ment from his staff but also re­wards the hard work.

“Scott’s best trait is com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Penny says. “In this busi­ness your com­mu­ni­ca­tion has to run. He’s straight to the point and very hon­est. It’s a re­ally happy place.”

THE FLOW OF CON­TAIN­ERS

The freight flows in sev­eral ways through the Lovatt de­pot. There a sev­eral ma­jor di­rect cus­tomers that Lovatt runs off the wharf.

“Now I buy ev­ery­thing brand new – trucks and trail­ers”

Di­rect de­liv­er­ies make up more than half his con­tain­ers per week. The rest comes in the way of coun­try work, un­packs and re­de­liv­ery.

Up to 60 con­tain­ers come in to the de­pot each week, and are un­packed by hand, sorted and re­de­liv­ered. The freight ranges from steel to dry goods and nearly ev­ery­thing in be­tween. A lot of the un­packed freight is ware­housed in the yard.

“We’ve got about 3000 square me­tres of ware­house, and about 1000 pal­lets in stor­age,” Lovatt says.

For his ware­hous­ing equip­ment, Lovatt has gone with Kal­mar reach stack­ers. He’s just bought a new DRG450 to com­ple­ment his ex­ist­ing 16-ton­ner.

“Kal­mars are very com­fort­able for the drivers,” he says. “The cabs are great, it’s like sit­ting in a car. You also get a quicker turn­around for the yard. If you go sec­ond hand you’ll prob­a­bly end up spend­ing $100,000 a year on main­te­nance.”

Lovatt has two Volvo FH600s, two FH540s, two Mercedes Actros 550s, three Hino side-load­ers, one Ster­ling se­ries 60 and a Freight­liner Columbia.

In the early days he would buy sec­ond hand but today he al­ways goes new.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of older ve­hi­cles in other com­pa­nies I’ve been with and the headaches they brought with them. Now I buy ev­ery­thing brand new – trucks and trail­ers, a model I’ve learnt off Billy that seems to work well.”

All the trucks are NHVRS and all have con­ces­sional mass lim­its (CML).

“We get an ex­tra tonne. The trou­ble [when pick­ing con­tain­ers off the wharfs] is you don’t know how they’re pack­ing it over­seas.

“It could be heav­ier up one end. That’s out of your hands.”

RUN­NING ON ROAD­RUN­NER

Lovatt runs the Road­run­ner Freight Sys­tem and says that although the ware­hous­ing side is a bit cum­ber­some, the trans­port side is ex­cel­lent.

“It’s all in the cloud, so we don’t need a server. It was the old DOS sys­tem; they’ve now gone into the Win­dows sys­tem.”

With the trucks run­ning var­i­ous legs from wharf to de­pot to cus­tomer des­ti­na­tion, it’s im­por­tant to track each leg.

“If you want to break it down to rev­enue for every leg, you can do that,” Lovatt says.

“You can get proper rev­enue from every ve­hi­cle for every part of the job. One con­tainer might come back to the yard then go out on a side-loader, get picked up by another side-loader then re­turn empty. You can track all those legs with all those trucks.”

Lovatt says in the fu­ture all drivers will have a tablet: “We will get to the stage of sign on tablet, in­ter­face with cus­tomer, email sent straight to cus­tomer.”

He says he’ll be look­ing at new IT sys­tems in the fu­ture.

LIFE ON THE PORT SIDE

It’s takes a cer­tain skill set and a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to run trucks to and from the tightly reg­u­lated Sydney ports. Mis­takes will cost you both time and money.

“There are new reg­u­la­tions in the water­front. We’ll get fined if we’re not on time, even if we’re 10 sec­onds early for a slot.”

All trucks around the port precinct are tracked by scan­ners through each truck’s unique RFID tag. Go through a scan­ner be­fore your al­lo­cated slot time and it’s a $100 fine.

Ar­rive late and it’s $50, and more than half an hour late you could be turned away.

“It’s like a big chess board,” Lovatt says. “You have to plan for the day and it’s con­tin­u­ous swap­ping trucks to jobs. We run our emp­ties back to the port then go to the wharf.

“Some­times you’ll get held up at an empty park for two hours and miss your slot. So then we’ve got to put some­one else on. It’s con­stantly swap­ping around trucks.”

It’s times like th­ese when hav­ing your old man nearby comes in handy.

“I use Billy if I need to run emp­ties into his yard be­cause I can’t get a slot. We back each other up. I help him out here when he needs it and he helps me out. It’s a handy back up, and it makes you re­alise the value of main­tain­ing strong re­la­tion­ships.”

GROWTH BECK­ONS

Fast growth means Scott Lovatt Con­tainer Cartage has eyes to the fu­ture. The hard yards are done, but plenty more lie ahead.

You wouldn’t bet against Scott Lovatt tak­ing things to the next level. It’s in his blood. Be con­fi­dent. Trust in your abil­i­ties. Use your con­tacts.

“I’ve learnt a lot from Billy. Don’t take no for an­swer. Get a re­sult. Make shit hap­pen.”

There’s lit­tle doubt that with Scott Lovatt and his fleet of blinged-up, shiny sil­ver trucks that big stuff is hap­pen­ing.

Op­po­site: Empty con­tain­ers get­ting loaded onto a Scott Lovatt Con­tainer Cartage truck

Above: Scott Lovatt de­mands com­mit­ment from his staff but also re­wards hard work

Top: Lovatt em­braces tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances to bene t busi­ness pro­duc­tiv­ity

Above: Ty­ing down another load at the Millperra yard

Op­po­site: Team­work and of­fice dis­cus­sions are a key fea­ture of the work day; Ad­min guru and Lovatt’s right-hand woman, Jody Penny; Ware­hous­ing is done at the Millperra premises

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