Operating from a head office at Stapylton on Brisbane’s Southside, TradeTools depends on a fleet of Hino trucks to deliver a wide range of tools and machinery, as part of an efficient and responsive transport business. It delivers to its stores dotted across Queensland. Paul Matthei talks to the team running supporting the enterprise.
TradeTools is a privately owned Queensland business with a remarkable story of success and growth that reaches back to 1987 when a small two-person tool store was established by Greg Ford on Brisbane’s Bayside.
An Englishman who originally arrived in Australia in 1973 for a holiday, Greg liked the place so much he never returned home. Eventually his parents also emigrated Down Under and Greg along with his father, Glen Ford, who had been involved with the tool industry in Great Britain since 1948, set up Glenfords Tool Centre. They built up the business and eventually sold it.
As for TradeTools, Greg says the business has, since its inception, proliferated into a network of 19 stores across South East Queensland and stretching to Cairns in the far north of the state. He attributes its success to a number of fundamental factors including having equal measures of respect for customers, suppliers and staff.
“We build upon this by endeavouring to offer the broadest collection of industrial tool products available anywhere in Australia, at the best possible prices,” says Greg.
“The bulk of our profits have always been reinvested back into our business, and we own outright most of our store buildings and infrastructure.”
Greg adds that this hard-won low overhead structure is reflected in the way the company has been able to attract, afford and retain the best professional staff in its field, whilst remaining competitive and innovative.
“We are the opposite of some modern companies that have a top heavy and expensive overhead structure lording over an underpaid staff base where poor service and rich pricing seems, all too often, to be the accepted norm,” says Greg.
Greg explains that the company remains a privately-owned organisation that includes two companies: TradeTools and TradeTools Regional.
“TradeTools Regional, our second company, was created some years ago to primarily reward staff that have served with us for a full 10 years or more,” says Greg. “These people have been granted full shares in TradeTools.”
Testament to the longevity in tenure of many TradeTools employees, Greg says there are now more than 50 people who have been granted shares in TradeTools.
One such person is the company’s CEO and Managing Director, Jeremy Stewart, who has been with TradeTools for around 24 years.
As such, Jeremy has played an instrumental role in the success of the company over the past two decades, and he attributes this growth to sound core business principles and a reliance on a fleet of Hino trucks which distribute the tools and machinery from home base at Stapylton to the bulk of the 19 stores ranging from Noosa Heads in the north to Tweed Heads in the south and west to Toowoomba. The company also has stores in Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and Cairns.
“In 2010 I started looking after the Human Resources side of things which also encompassed fleet management including the delivery trucks and forklifts at the stores,” says Jeremy.
“At that stage the company was already using Hinos and although we have investigated a couple of other brands over the ensuing years, including European marques, we have always gravitated back to Hinos because they have such a solid track record with us.”
The current fleet consists of eight trucks, seven of which are Hino 500 Series Wide Cab models. Five of these are GH1828 4×2 variants fitted with 14-pallet curtain-sided bodies while the sixth is an earlier model GH1727 4×2 that serves as a spare truck for use when one of the newer ones is being serviced. The seventh Hino is an FD 500 Series Standard Cab unit.