Kevin Bakewell has spent his working life building a regional trucking operation on the New South Wales Mid-North Coast in the small town of Wingham, just outside of Taree. A dedication to hard work and looking after the customer has brought Kevin the satisfaction of succeeding by doing the right thing.
Taree is strategically located on the Pacific Highway in NSW. The town lies 6.5 hours south of Brisbane and 3.5 hours north of Sydney. This means that most drivers in the fleet can be home on a regular basis.
This position also means that organising and scheduling loads can be made easier by knowing that all of the trailers leaving Taree in the morning will be able to return back to Taree after a trip to Sydney. It is also possible to make the journey to Brisbane unload, reload and return to base in one day.
There is also enough activity in this area of the North Coast for operators like Kevin to develop solid long-term relationships with local manufacturers and distributors, to enable the business to be both stable and expanding. Simply, as a result of its location, business is looking to locate in areas like Taree, where there is sufficient workforce and the possibility of a good lifestyle for their employees outside of the big city.
Kevin’s involvement in the trucking industry started at a young age with him purchasing a truck before he was 18. He didn’t have a license to drive the truck and on his 18th birthday the local police officer phoned him and told him he should come down to the station to get his driving license.
“Then I stepped up to a trailer license and bought my first trailer,” says Kevin. “I had a UD and an old McGrath trailer and I carried on being an owner driver until 1987. It was then that I smashed my leg when I fell out of the truck. I persevered for ages and then, finally, I came around to getting an operation. I had my first new truck on order at that time, it was one of the first Ford HN80 models.
“Before it arrived I was told that I shouldn’t be driving any more because of my leg. They couldn’t fix it, and they still haven’t. I am hoping they will be able to do it this year. So, it was either get out of the business or, have a go.
“We decided to have a go, and picked up some good customers. We were doing general freight interstate to start with and then in 1993, we picked up the Tooheys beer contract. We handled all of the line-haul bringing the beer back to this area. We still do it today, although now, we do the full logistics service for them, including delivery to pubs and bottle shops.”
Later, in 1998, a company, based in Taree, which makes all of the aluminium aerosol cans manufactured in Australia, approached Kevin to handle its distribution. The contract started with just one truck from the fleet, but as the business in Taree has grown so has the Bakewell fleet in order to handle the increase in freight. This contract has also developed into being an operation in which Bakewell supplies a full logistics service to the company. This particular contract employs 10 of the Bakewell team, full-time.
These two mainstays of the operation have been added to over the years, with a selection of other contracts to enable the Bakewell Transport business to grow to a substantial logistics and distribution service working in and out of the Taree area.
This region has become one which is undergoing strong economic growth as business is relocating to the NSW Mid-North Coast to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city of Sydney. This growth has met a considerable increase in the amount of freight coming into the area. As an example, Kevin points out that he now has three full trailers every day delivering building materials into Port Macquarie. This area is no longer a sleepy corner, just off the Pacific Highway, it is a destination in itself.