THE JELLYBEAN HERD

Many trans­port com­pa­nies boast of hum­ble be­gin­nings, but Burtchell’s Trans­port’s be­gin­ning was more hum­ble than most. Ta­mara Whitsed vis­its them in Echuca

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

TIM AND MANDY Burtchell were young par­ents in their early 20s when they paid $15,000 for a six-me­tre 1981 Hino tray truck and founded Burtchell’s Trans­port in Echuca, Vic­to­ria, in 1994.

They started small, fo­cus­ing on par­cel and pal­let de­liv­ery. Pal­lets re­main a core part of their busi­ness to­day, but they have grad­u­ally grown and now ac­cept freight rang­ing from the size of a shoe box to a full B-dou­ble load.

Tim is the son of a stock and sta­tion agent and says his love of trucks was nur­tured by the live­stock car­ri­ers who oc­ca­sion­ally let him travel with them when he was young. Af­ter com­plet­ing a me­chanic ap­pren­tice­ship, he drove a con­crete ag­i­ta­tor and then carted gen­eral freight for a lo­cal com­pany.

He re­alised there was a de­mand for a small par­cel truck be­tween Echuca-Moama and Shep­par­ton, and the small towns in be­tween. “There were plenty of lit­tle courier vans but no one with a truck that could take pal­lets or packs of pipe or any­thing,” Tim says.

Six months af­ter form­ing Burtchell’s Trans­port, Tim was at­tract­ing too many parcels and pal­lets for the lit­tle Hino.

“It was only eight-and-a-halftonne gross.” But he was care­ful not to let his en­thu­si­asm and love of trucks lure him into the trap of over­cap­i­tal­is­ing. He sold his per­sonal Toy­ota HiLux to add a sec­ond-hand

Toy­ota HiAce van to his lit­tle fleet.

“Now we’ve got eight trucks,” says Tim, who em­ploys six driv­ers: Mur­ray Brown, Phil Blain, Pete Stafford, Johnny Dunn, Den­nis Tyres and Char­lie Stritch.

Mur­ray has been there since al­most the be­gin­ning and has be­come a vi­tal part of the team. Phil was 14 when he started wash­ing Tim’s trucks. He worked in another in­dus­try for a while but re­turned to Burtchell’s Trans­port about 10 years ago to drive trucks. Al­li­son Sim­son has worked in the of­fice for 10 years.

Most of the year Tim’s driv­ers are busy mov­ing pal­lets, con­tain­ers and gen­eral freight. “Ev­ery day we’ve got a dou­ble and sin­gle in Mel­bourne.”

It is usu­ally only dur­ing the grain and grape har­vest that all eight trucks are on the road at the same time.

MIXED JELLYBEANS

Burtchell’s Trans­port runs a mixed fleet. “The jellybean herd, I call it – all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes,” Tim says. There are three Volvos, a Sca­nia, a Ster­ling, a Ford Aero­max and two Fu­sos.

He bought the 1996 Aero­max LTS9000 sec­ond-hand 16 years ago and it is his favourite truck. “I call her my honey. She’s an ab­so­lute rip­per.” With reg­u­lar main­te­nance, the Kentucky Hard Run­ner “just goes and goes and goes”.

The 2011 Sca­nia R560 is his new­est truck. Like most of his trucks, he bought it sec­ond-hand.

If he had to buy a truck to­mor­row, Tim says he would choose a sec­ond­hand Euro­pean truck – prob­a­bly a Sca­nia or Volvo – be­cause they are com­fort­able, quiet and of­fer good vis­i­bil­ity.

Rich River Truck Re­pairs looks af­ter the fleet’s ma­jor re­pairs. Smaller re­pairs and reg­u­lar main­te­nance are car­ried out by a cou­ple of me­chan­ics who work at Tim’s yard on week­ends.

Tim worked long hours on the road in the early years. Now he spends

Tim Burtchell’s favourite truck is the 1996 Aero­max Kentucky Hard Run­ner which “just goes and goes and goes”

his time Tim spends most of Trans­port manag­ing Burtchell’s but still loves driv­ing

The Sca­nia B-dou­ble runs Echuca-Mel­bourne five days a week

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