Af­ter decades of buy­ing sec­ond-hand trucks, the Woods fam­ily changed di­rec­tion and bought their first newie – a Ken­worth T610. War­ren Aitken gets the feed­back from Jamie Woods and driver Chris Faaaliga

Owner Driver - - Contents #305 -

Af­ter decades of sec­ond-hand trucks, the Woods fam­ily lashed out for a new Ken­worth T610

THE OLD SAY­ING is ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. But while that might be the case for ac­tual old dogs, the same isn’t true of those ‘old dogs’ in the trans­port in­dus­try. To sur­vive in trans­port, ‘old dogs’ have to keep up with what’s new in the in­dus­try as well as mas­ter­ing ev­ery­thing they’ve learnt from pre­vi­ous years. For my own safety, though, I’m go­ing to drop the ‘old dog’ anal­ogy be­cause those oldies also know ways of pun­ish­ing those who call them old dogs. More to the point, when you’ve learnt the new tricks and grown your trans­port busi­ness from a ‘two trucks be­tween mates’ kind of busi­ness into a flour­ish­ing 34-truck and 75-trailer fleet, what new things are there left to try?

Well, for Kim Woods, his wife Diane and sons Jamie and Chris, the one thing they could try was buy­ing their first brand-new truck. Kim formed Bris­bane-based Bond­woods Trans­port in 1994 with a mate.

Back be­fore Face­book, Google and eBay filled our days, Kim was run­ning 48-foot boxes on and off the rail for Cu­bico/ Box­car. Kim and an­other con­trac­tor were kept flat out with local work. When Cu­bico men­tioned bring­ing in an­other sub­bie, the two men bought an­other truck and formed Bond­woods Trans­port.

For 14 years Bond­woods built a solid rep­u­ta­tion based on both men’s old school val­ues of ser­vice and re­li­a­bil­ity.

In 2008, Kim bought out his part­ner and it be­came a one­fam­ily op­er­a­tion. “It was too large a job to change the name,” Kim’s son Jamie ex­plains. “So we just kept Bond­woods.”

Dur­ing those first 14 years, Cu­bico was bought out, the com­pany that bought Cu­bico was then bought out, then that com­pany was bought out, and then that com­pany was also bought out and then … well, you get the gist. There had been

many changes of man­age­ment but Bond­woods kept sup­ply­ing their re­li­able ser­vice and the work kept com­ing.

Bond­woods did meet on hard times when the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis hit in 2007. They lost a chunk of work with sev­eral trucks hav­ing to be sold and the fleet down­sized to eight prime movers. Coin­ci­dently, 2007 was also the year Jamie joined the Bond­woods’ driv­ing team (I’m not say­ing he caused the GFC, but the tim­ing is in­ter­est­ing).

As 2008 dis­ap­peared in the rear-view mir­rors, the Bond­woods’ team was start­ing to re­plen­ish its work­load. Over the next decade the busi­ness set about build­ing a solid rep­u­ta­tion with all its cus­tomers. In 10 years they’ve more than quadru­pled their fleet, though Jamie ad­mits they’ve never gone chas­ing work and haven’t looked at tak­ing any­one else’s work ei­ther. The cus­tomers come to them. “Our growth is run by the growth of our cus­tomers,” Jamie says.

Out of the driver’s seat

Jamie man­aged six years in a driver’s seat be­fore the busi­ness be­came too busy for him not to suit up and get in the of­fice. The same thing hap­pened ear­lier this year when younger brother Chris ‘Boof’ Woods had to re­tire his seat to take over the in­ter­state op­er­a­tions.

While the move to a comfy of­fice chair was to take care of the day-to-day op­er­a­tions, one of the other as­pects Jamie was in­stru­men­tal in was in­creas­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Bond­woods’ fleet.

“There’s noth­ing real flash about them,” Jamie humbly ex­plains. “Just a bit of stain­less and some pin strip­ing.” Al­though when that pin strip­ing is done by the boys at Truck Writ­ers in Ca­bool­ture, you know it’s go­ing to stand out. Jamie freely ad­mits that the other rea­son the trucks stand out is his driv­ers. The pride they take in their gear shows on the road, which is a case in point.

Jamie hap­pily re­gales a re­cent story of a cus­tomer who was on his way down to the port of Bris­bane for a meet­ing with his cur­rent freight for­warder that he was hav­ing is­sues with.

“He saw a cou­ple of our trucks in a line of 10 or so and they stood out. Next thing he’s on the phone and Bond­woods have an­other client to look af­ter.”

While their work­load has in­creased from local box cart­ing to gen­eral freight, steel, pro­duce and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, the roads trav­elled now go any­where from Mel­bourne to Mackay. How­ever, one thing has al­ways stayed the same – the pur­chase of sec­ond-hand trucks.

“It’s al­ways been the way Dad mod­elled the busi­ness,” Jamie tells me. “Orig­i­nally it was to keep the costs down; we did a lot of sub­con­tract work and the money just wasn’t there. The flip­side of buy­ing sec­ond hand is hav­ing to al­low for more main­te­nance, so hav­ing two full-time me­chan­ics on board meant ev­ery­thing was looked af­ter.”

As far as what sec­ond-hand trucks they pur­chased, Kim wanted to keep va­ri­ety in the fleet. There are K104s, K200s, T401s, 404s, 404 SARs, 408s, 409s, a T650, a 904, a 604 and a 608. It’s a def­i­nite va­ri­ety of Ken­worth mod­els.

“Noth­ing stands up bet­ter than a Ken­worth” is not just Jamie’s opin­ion, but that of the en­tire fam­ily.

“They put up with the harsh­est con­di­tions and they’re

bril­liant ’round town,” he con­tin­ues. If you look closely in the yard, though, you will see a cou­ple of bon­nets with­out a KW em­blem on them.

En­ter the T610

In late 2017, it was time for a big change, and Bond­woods’ very first brand-new truck ar­rived.

The de­ci­sion came about through the in­creased work­load, cou­pled with the strug­gle to find good sec­ond-hand trucks that weren’t hous­ing the older EGR mo­tors, an en­gine Bond­woods pre­ferred to stay away from. Dave Con­sta­ble from Brown and Hur­ley’s Yatala out­let was the man to get Kim and his boys into their very first new truck.

“He’s been bril­liant!” Jamie says. Even though they’d never bought any­thing from him pre­vi­ously, Dave was al­ways pop­ping in for a chat, check­ing on the busi­ness, go­ing as far as drop­ping off a gift when Jamie’s wife had their first baby.

“When the de­ci­sion was made it was a no brainer,” Jamie adds. “He’d put the leg­work in.” Dave brought round a stock truck which was white with a black chas­sis. An­other bulls­eye in Bond­woods’ book so Dave had to Uber home. Done deal!

The new T610, pow­ered by a Cum­mins X15, was im­me­di­ately sent off to Truck Writ­ers to get some scroll­work done. Soon af­ter, it popped around the corner to Leeroy’s Stain­less for a lit­tle bling be­fore re­turn­ing home where a new vi­sor from Rock­lea Truck Elec­tri­cal was fit­ted. One of the other no­table at­tributes of Kim and the Bond­woods man­age­ment team is their will­ing­ness to hire young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers try­ing to get into the trans­port in­dus­try. Jamie ad­mits to en­joy­ing putting the time and train­ing into the new re­cruits.

“We’ve got three or four guys here un­der the age of 22. They’re all keen, they love their trucks; why wouldn’t you

“Just a bit of stain­less and some pin strip­ing.”

want them here? They can’t wait to get here Mon­day morn­ing; they’re the sort of peo­ple you want.”

One of those grad­u­ates of the Bond­woods’ school of ‘we’ll cart ev­ery­thing’ is the man who got the new keys and the firstever new truck smell at Bond­woods – Chris ‘Coco’ Faaaliga.

Power of the X15

Chris started with Bond­woods more than six years ago and while his job now pre­dom­i­nantly in­volves the new swing-lift work, there’s noth­ing in the com­pany he hasn’t tried. Local DC de­liv­er­ies to steel, changeovers to dock work, Chris has learned more ropes than a sail­ing class. Along the way he’s taken a lot of pride in each ve­hi­cle he’s had. The last 409 he had looked in bet­ter con­di­tion than my car, and I clean my car a lot.

Jamie ad­mit­ted that even though Chris works six days a week, the T610 looks like it’s just rolled out of the fac­tory.

So how does the new T610 han­dle the round-town work? Piece of cake, not just any cake ei­ther, one of those three-tiered choco­late and ba­nana cake cre­ations. Chris loves it, ad­mit­ting the power of the X15 makes it a breeze.

His laugh bor­ders on ma­ni­a­cal when he re­cants cruis­ing past other trucks when he’s fully loaded.

In terms of ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and vi­sion, two vi­tally im­por­tant at­tributes when it comes to round-town work, the same praise flows from Chris.

He had been fore­warned of the shak­ing of the sin­gle-arm mir­rors, but in typ­i­cal Coco fashion he in­forms me: “Those kinda mir­rors nor­mally shake, but nope, that one’s good … maybe they shake when you keep hit­ting trees a lot!”

While the new Ken­worth T610s have proven their worth out and about on the Aus­tralian high­ways, it was great to see how well it per­formed in more con­fined spa­ces.

The power of the X15 is ev­i­dent pulling away time and again from the lights, the turn­ing cir­cle has lost noth­ing to its younger 4-0 mod­els, and the drop-away bon­net and large mir­rors means you’ve got to pull some real David Cop­per­field stuff to hide from the driver’s view.

It’s taken 24 years for Bond­woods to get their first truck, and the new Ken­worth T610 has definitely made them re­think wait­ing an­other 24 for the next one.

“We’ve got three or four guys here un­der the age of 22.”

Be­low: In the queue to load an­other con­tainer

Above: The T610 and Ham­mar side­loader make a per­fect matchBe­low: Truck Writ­ers of Ca­bool­ture added this taste­ful scroll workOp­po­site: Driver Chris ‘Coco’ Faaaliga scored big when he was handed the keys to the new T610

Above: The T610 is prov­ing a win­ner for local de­liv­er­ies

Be­low: Bond­woods Trans­port has a mostly Ken­worth fleet, in­clud­ing this 2007 T404 SAR

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