VIC­TORY LAP

In its 40th year, Kan­ga­roo Bus Lines still does what it knows best – de­liv­er­ing an su­pe­rior cus­tomer ser­vice through­out Queens­land

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS RUZA ZIVKU­SIC-AF­TASI PHO­TOS NATHAN DUFF

Af­ter 40 years of busi­ness and some re­cent ma­jor awards un­der its belt, it seems Queens­land’s Kan­ga­roo Bus Lines has the right stuff and shows no signs of slow­ing. Ruza Zivku­sic-Af­tasi re­ports.

KAN­GA­ROO Bus Lines (KBL) is a fam­ily-run busi­ness that has made a strong mark within the Queens­land mar­ket, de­vel­op­ing a lon­glast­ing re­la­tion­ship within the com­mu­nity. It turned 40 years old on Oc­to­ber 27, 2018.

Estab­lished by Daryl and Jan Web­ster in 1978 with a fleet of nine buses, the com­pany has grown from strength to strength, of­fer­ing a range of trans­port ser­vices while be­com­ing a leader in in­dus­try, in­no­va­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Tak­ing pride in mov­ing peo­ple and con­nect­ing com­mu­ni­ties, KBL is strongly im­mersed in the tourism and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors, of­fer­ing com­plete and per­son­alised trans­port so­lu­tions.

With a fleet of 130 buses across two de­pots and 210 staff,

KBL’s motto is: peo­ple, pride and passion.

CEO Dar­ren Web­ster says the busi­ness has evolved thanks to the fam­ily’s hard work and its peo­ple.

As Daryl and Jan’s only son, Web­ster took over the reins in 2008 and is now groom­ing his own son and daugh­ter to one day take over the busi­ness.

Lo­cated at the Burpen­gary de­pot, Web­ster re­flects on 2018, de­scrib­ing it as a suc­cess.

Hav­ing signed a con­tract for the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games to as­sist trans­port­ing VIPs and spec­ta­tors, KBL has proven that it can de­liver what it stands for.

It was en­gaged by the State Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide sup­port ser­vices for Queens­land rail to

KBL was en­gaged by the State Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide sup­port ser­vices for Queens­land rail to han­dle any over­loads or is­sues that may arise through the rail net­work.

han­dle any over­loads or is­sues that may arise through the rail net­work. KBL helped shift ex­ces­sive crowds, work­ing di­rectly with trans­port and main roads – a project that was pulled to­gether in seven weeks thanks to the greater bus in­dus­try.

Some 343 KBL buses and 500 driv­ers and staff worked tire­lessly for 11 days on the project.

“I think it gets down to hav­ing the right peo­ple around us, hav­ing the right man­age­ment group and divi­sional man­agers and sup­port staff in our or­gan­i­sa­tion with the com­mit­ment, passion and pride to de­liver the ser­vices,” Web­ster said.

“KBL wouldn’t have been able to do that with­out the sup­port of my col­leagues in the bus in­dus­try work­ing di­rectly with us to de­liver those ser­vices and fur­ther my man­age­ment team, and spe­cial events man­ager work­ing tire­lessly pulling it all to­gether in a very short amount of time as we

estab­lished a team of peo­ple to ser­vice that.”

FU­TURE CEMENTED

Tak­ing home the top prize un­der the ‘Tourism: Tours and Trans­fers’ cat­e­gory at the re­cent Sun­shine Coast Busi­ness 2018 Awards, KBL’s fo­cus on fu­ture growth has shifted to­wards the Sun­shine Coast.

As a re­sult, KBL has opened a sec­ond de­pot on the Sun­shine Coast with a fleet of 12 ve­hi­cles, and is grow­ing at a steady rate.

Be­ing up against a strong group of eight fi­nal­ists at the awards, all of which were judged on their writ­ten ap­pli­ca­tions and fi­nal panel in­ter­views, KBL had sub­mit­ted a 5,240-word ap­pli­ca­tion and a short video on its YouTube Chan­nel, cap­tur­ing an in­ti­mate, be­hind-the-

scenes look of the com­pany.

“To take out the award two years in a row was a shock to us as a group and I’m very proud of the work again that our man­ager and our peo­ple on the Sun­shine Coast have done to de­liver a qual­ity tourism ser­vice with the KBL brand,” Web­ster said.

“The awards have most def­i­nitely helped us and our brand on the Sun­shine Coast.”

An­other year 2018 suc­cess for the com­pany was the re­newal of the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Translink con­tract for an­other seven years, pro­vid­ing ur­ban and school ser­vices to the com­mu­nity.

KBL has man­aged to hit all the tar­gets thanks to its staff and strong tech­nol­ogy sys­tems, Web­ster ex­plains.

It’s about to launch an over­all, cus­tom-made soft­ware pack­age that was de­vel­oped by Red­ify.

“We’ve worked with Red­ify be­cause we were un­able to find some­thing on the mar­ket that is an off-the-shelf prod­uct that would suit our style of busi­ness,” Web­ster ex­plained.

QUAL­ITY DRIVE

With its head of­fice lo­cated just north of Bris­bane at Burpen­gary – be­tween the CBD and Sun­shine Coast – its pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity is home to more than 100 im­mac­u­lately pre­sented, mod­ern ve­hi­cles, a state-ofthe-art work­shop and a pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated team of peo­ple.

KBL loves what it does – de­liv­er­ing de­pend­able, pro­fes­sional and mem­o­rable experiences for each of its val­ued cus­tomers.

But stay­ing on top of costs

is chal­leng­ing, as it is for any bus op­er­a­tor within Aus­tralia, Web­ster says.

“The era of when my par­ents were ac­tively in­volved in the dayto-day run­ning of the busi­ness to where I am in my role as CEO is com­pletely dif­fer­ent; there are a lot more chal­lenges and bu­reau­cracy and red tape that you have to go through to de­liver the same ser­vices that my par­ents did some 20 years ago,” Web­ster said.

“Mov­ing for­ward, the pres­sure for bud­gets for not only state gov­ern­ment but ev­ery­body puts pres­sure on the bus in­dus­try and KBL to keep costs at a sus­tain­able level and the big­gest chal­lenge is try­ing to keep costs un­der con­trol to re­main com­pet­i­tive,” he added.

“The num­ber one cost in any busi­ness is your peo­ple; hav­ing the right peo­ple around you will en­sure that your costs are main­tained be­cause if you treat your peo­ple right they’ll treat your cus­tomers right and treat your

as­sets right – which will then help keep cost un­der con­trol.”

FU­TURE GROWTH

With an ever-chang­ing mar­ket and new play­ers en­ter­ing the bus in­dus­try, KBL’s staff is re­minded not to be­come com­pla­cent.

“We make sure that our peo­ple are con­tin­u­ally trained and sup­ported with the right tech­nol­ogy equip­ment to de­liver the right ser­vices and not to be com­pla­cent on our moral of just as­sum­ing that ev­ery­thing is right,” Web­ster said.

“The mar­ket is chang­ing, there are new play­ers ar­riv­ing all over the coun­try and in Bris­bane it cre­ates some chal­lenges that we have to meet.

“When my grand­fa­ther pur­chased nine buses in 1978 my fa­ther, mother, sis­ter and I moved to Queens­land and the rest is history. We have been in the bus in­dus­try our whole life and worked very hard to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for my­self and my sis­ter and the rest of the fam­ily mem­bers.

“Al­though he’s re­tired, my fa­ther still pro­vides advice and di­rec­tion and sup­port when needed,” Web­ster added.

“I’ve had an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity, with the sup­port of my par­ents, to take over our busi­ness and make de­ci­sions – some of those de­ci­sions may not have been right at the time but I’ve learned by those mis­takes and hope­fully have grown our busi­ness in the right di­rec­tions.

“I am now giv­ing my son the same op­por­tu­ni­ties to fol­low in my foot­steps.”

Jan is also in­volved with as­sist­ing tourists onto the coach fleet.

The mar­ket is chang­ing, there are new play­ers ar­riv­ing all over the coun­try.

Left: KBL as­sisted with trans­port­ing Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games pas­sen­gers.Right: KBL’s motto is: peo­ple, pride and passion.Be­low: KBL started with nine buses back in 1978.

Top:KBL turned 40 in Oc­to­ber, 2018. Right:KBL won a Sun­shine Coast Busi­ness Awards prize for its lead­er­ship.An­other suc­cess for KBL in 2018 was the re­newal of the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Translink con­tract. Be­low:

Be­low: As the bus in­dus­try con­tin­ues to de­velop, new chal­lenges arise and KBL is de­ter­mined not to be com­pla­cent.

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