“Every truck is a business,” is a major part of the philosophy behind the success of TR Group, arguably New Zealand’s largest heavy transport rental and lease company, founded and headed up by Andrew Carpenter.
Back in 1992, Andrew reckoned there was a great opportunity in providing rental trailers to businesses with an unspecified need to be flexible and accordingly, together with his family, he took a deep breath and bought the Chep Trailer Hire business along with 65 trailer units from the Chep Pallet Company. Two and a half decades later, Andrew’s family owned company – TR Group – has close to 5000 truck and trailer units on its books, built, administered, serviced, refurbished, rented, leased and sold by a 160-strong team, servicing the whole of the country. Those truck and trailer units cover the most diverse range of applications and specifications, providing a comprehensive selection of bespoke vehicles to suit the temporary and permanent needs of New Zealand’s heavy transport industry. To come back to every truck being a business, Andrew explains one of the key considerations of truck hire – when the word ‘hire’ can cover both leasing or short to long term renting be that daily, weekly, monthly or over some years. “The average linehaul truck,” he says “would be a 50 tonne, 23-metre long unit which has to return – as a general rule – about $4 per kilometre for about a million kilometres of service. “If it’s only returning say $3.80 per kilometre, it’s not going to generate the amount of money the operator has put into it initially, and the ‘business’ will fail. That’s bad when it’s one truck, but if you have 10 or 15 units not performing as they should, well, the ‘business’ is going to fail, spectacularly.” The same principle is there not just for big units, but equally for four and six wheeler trucks and metro fleets. – it really has to work correctly for everyone concerned. This then, is one of many differences between renting or leasing a truck as opposed to a car. “The dollars are so very different,” explains Andrew, “with a car being much less complex than a typical truck. You can go to a car lease company and order a handful of cars, with the expectation that they will be ready in very short order. “A truck can take anywhere from six to 12 months from order to delivery, because the need to get the truck right from the very outset is so elevated.” TR Group’s 25 years of experience, expertise and passion to see trucks on the road and earning what they should, means no element of getting the build right is marginalised. “In saying that,” Andrew says, “with a truck being a collection of mechanical components, there can be any number of reasons why it is not performing as it should. We have to resolve the customer’s immediate requirements for mobility first, which – given the size of the fleet – we can and do, and any disruption to our customer’s business kept to a minimum until the situation is resolved. “There’s a lot of fluidity between our rental vehicles and our leased ones to make sure our customer’s business needs are met.” TR Group has determined that another area it can further assist its customers to maximise the earning potential of its heavy vehicle fleet is to provide high quality driver training. TR Master Drive is a reasonably new service string to the TR Group bow, but it has proven to be an extremely popular one, as driver training can realise some serious bottom line savings for heavy vehicle operators, in terms of truck operation, fuel savings, compliance and of course, safety. There are five core elements making up TR Group’s business: leasing, renting and selling heavy commercial vehicles, which is the bread and butter of the business, but added to that is maintenance management as well as the driver training. You won’t find TR Group dabbling in cars, because cars and trucks are so very different when it comes to even the basic elements of fleet management for either. “We know trucks,” says Andrew “and we know the business of trucks. Our customers respect our expertise and our passion, which is why they partner with us.”