Vic­to­rian-based earth­mov­ing trans­port com­pany East­ern Plant Hire has re­freshed Its ‘Am­bas­sador’ pro­gram as an in­no­va­tive strat­egy to ad­dress a short­age of qual­ity driv­ers needed to sus­tain its rapid growth fu­elled by the na­tional in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment

Owner Driver - - OWNER // DRIVER -

IN BUSI­NESS terms, growth is al­ways con­sid­ered good. Growth, how­ever con­trolled it is, can also present its own chal­lenges in this day and age – es­pe­cially in truck­ing!

How­ever, one com­pany is tak­ing the bull by the horns to be the driv­ing force be­hind its ex­pan­sion and evo­lu­tion, with in­no­va­tive think­ing to ad­dress the growth chal­lenge.

East­ern Plant Hire (EPH) started out as a mod­est equip­ment agency busi­ness in 1997, run by broth­ers Michael and David Will­son.

Since then it has grown to be­come a spe­cial­ist earth­mov­ing trans­port com­pany in­volved in projects across three states.

With more than 50 trucks in the com­pany fleet and in ex­cess of 3,000 in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors on the books, EPH runs un­der the ban­ner of supplying ‘The best ser­vice on Earth!’ As well as a tip­per fleet, the com­pany also has a small fleet of earth­mov­ing equip­ment for hire in­clud­ing road sweep­ers and wa­ter carts.

EPH was the pri­mary haulage con­trac­tor for Mel­bourne’s $2.5 bil­lion Eastlink toll-way project back in the early noughties; an iconic project that moved nearly as much dirt as the iconic Snowy Moun­tains Hy­dro Elec­tric project.

Since then EPH has pur­sued more op­por­tu­ni­ties both in Vic­to­ria as well as New South Wales and Queens­land.

EPH man­ag­ing direc­tor Michael Will­son says: “The east­ern seaboard is cur­rently see­ing a mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture boom, and we’re an in­te­gral part of it”.

In­no­va­tions like the devel­op­ment of an EPH app for clients and con­trac­tors have served to push the com­pany into ground-break­ing ar­eas with in­creased con­nec­tiv­ity, trans­parency and com­pli­ance as well as re­sult­ing in less paper work for em­ploy­ees, con­trac­tors and clients alike.

As with many trans­port com­pa­nies, EPH has strug­gled to keep the pace of driver re­cruit­ment in line with the busi­ness’s growth.

“Like many truck­ing com­pa­nies, it can be a chal­lenge to find and re­tain driv­ers,” says Will­son. “So that’s why we started our Am­bas­sador pro­gram.

“And we’re now look­ing for more owner driv­ers to be­come EPH Am­bas­sadors.”

An EPH Am­bas­sador is an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor. Prospec­tive Am­bas­sadors can buy an ex­ist­ing EPH fleet truck and then go to work for the com­pany.

“We use the term Am­bas­sador be­cause that’s what they are, they’re brand am­bas­sadors for our com­pany”

“We use the term Am­bas­sador be­cause that’s what they are, they’re brand am­bas­sadors for our com­pany,” Will­son says.

“The trucks carry our logo and they’re the face of our com­pany.

“And ser­vice is some­thing that we pride our­selves on, it’s the very ba­sis of our busi­ness.”

The EPH fleet is multi-branded, how­ever, a large num­ber of th­ese trucks carry the Ken­worth logo. Along with West­ern Star, there’s also a smat­ter­ing of Euro­pean brands in the fleet, mainly Mercedes-Benz and DAF.

“Some driv­ers will only drive our Ken­worths, though we also have driv­ers that love the Euro­pean com­fort and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity also of­fered by our cab-overs,” Will­son says.

The EPH tip­per fleet runs un­der PBS to max­imise pro­duc­tiv­ity as well. How­ever, Will­son is keen to point out the ad­van­tages of be­ing an EPH Am­bas­sador. “They get to take ad­van­tage of our buying power for a start,” he says.

“We have our own work­shops and their trucks can be ser­viced on site, so this can be very cost ef­fec­tive.”

And then there’s the con­ve­nience of be­ing con­nected to both the com­pany and the cus­tomer via the EPH app.

“Our EPH app means that there’s a lot less time taken up by paper work and they can see ex­actly how much they’ve earned and when they’re go­ing to get paid,” he says.

“Another ad­van­tage of be­ing a part of the Am­bas­sador fleet is con­sis­tency of work. We pri­ori­tise the Am­bas­sador trucks when work is slow.

“We can’t con­trol the weather, but we al­ways sup­port the Am­bas­sadors over the com­pany trucks to keep them earn­ing.”

Will­son says the com­pany is grow­ing and has plenty of work com­ing.

“We can’t con­trol the weather, but we al­ways sup­port our Am­bas­sadors over our com­pany trucks to keep them earn­ing”

EPH man­ag­ing direc­tor Michael Will­son says an in­fra­struc­ture boom on the east coast is see­ing un­prece­dented de­mand for driv­ers and sub­con­trac­tors

The fleet is pre­dom­i­nantly made of North Amer­i­can brands though EPH also op­er­ates some Euro­pean makes

Am­bas­sadors can take ad­van­tage of the com­pany’s buying power on con­sum­ables like tyres

Am­bas­sadors can even have ve­hi­cle main­te­nance car­ried out at EPH work­shops

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