Put a challenge in front of yourself, and when you achieve that, you then find another challenge – Mick McCulloch.
There comes a time in your life when you become convinced that when something needs doing, it’s often easier to do it yourself.
For Mick McCulloch, that thought was very relevant when it came to truck servicing in the Tamworth area. The existing truck service outlets didn’t provide Mick with the opportunity to have trucks serviced on weekends, ready to be back on the road to start work on a Monday morning.
“Like so many in the transport business, I have often spent the week in a truck and at the weekend found myself underneath it, servicing everything from front to back,” said Mick.
“I had the idea that a good business could be created by offering 24-hour servicing over a weekend. A full truck service facility open 24 hours through every Saturday and Sunday was what the industry needed but didn’t necessarily get. It should be possible and relatively easy to drop the truck on a Friday afternoon, service it, wash it, and pick up ready for the new week.
“This level of service is ideal if the driver wants an A or B service or just a weekend off. There’s a lot of transport operation in and around Tamworth, plus the two abattoirs and the chicken industry. There’s also the sale yards for beef and lamb, making strong reasons why the Tamworth area can provide good business for truck operators”.
Mick McCulloch certainly knows this industry, having founded McCulloch Bulk Haulage and operating over 20 B-double combinations.
“Bulk haulage is the core part of our business. We celebrate our 30th birthday next year, and to get maximum utilisation out of your vehicles and your investment you have to keep them working.
“We have always done our own servicing, and as the company was growing we used to employ mechanics to work part time on Saturdays and Sundays. In the early days it was a case of me working with them at weekends. We had a great nucleus of talent, but it was obviously difficult to give them continuity and to provide them with a long-term and regular employment future.
“About six years ago, when we were leasing a workshop at weekends, the opportunity arose to buy a local service business when the owner was retiring. When we took it over we were able to continue to employ good people on a regular basis and to see if we could make a go of being another transport operator that also provided service opportunities.
“With staff working four days on and two days off, that enabled the workshop to operate seven days a week. We were always going to build a new and larger workshop, but the size depended on how much work we thought we could attract from outside companies to make it viable.
“After much consultation between my wife and I we decided to go ahead with the concept of building a complete stand-alone, state-of-the-art service workshop as a totally separate business venture from McCulloch Transport. That was how we came to create Glen Artney Truck Repairs of Workshop Lane, Westdale, near Tamworth saleyards”.
“I’ve been a mechanic, driver, owner/driver, fleet operator and now workshop operator for over 40 years in the industry. In that time you’ve been in different workshops and you know what you want. I’ve always had the picture of the ideal workshop in my head, and we then decided to build what we now have to offer today. It’s been going since February and operates seven days a week, and through the full 24 hours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We shall also be further expanding by opening a commercial truck wash by Christmas, which will feature a 30-minute drive-through operation for B-doubles.
“That’s basically how it came about. The name of Glen Artney Truck Repairs comes from the location originally being part of a property of the same name. Having a totally separate identity from McCulloch Transport keeps it on a more professional individual and independent basis. It operates as a wholly stand-alone business.
“We handle all makes of vehicles and engines and have a Detroit specialist and a Cummins specialist on site, plus WABCO trained specialists in EBS and the entire latest trailer braking systems. We are Brown and Hurley service agents for OEMS and Kenworth training schools, which we can run in our own lecture room facility at the new location.
“We can handle European makes just as easily as North American, the point of difference from other outlets being that we are offering a different level of service in terms of workshop hours,” said Mick.
The facility at Glen Artney is certainly impressive, with plenty of space in the truck park and access to handle B-doubles and stock crates. With five 30 m bays, two of which feature 26 m pits, the workshop can handle all makes and combinations as well as complete servicing requirements for trailers. Additional features include a brake test unit, shaker and alloy wheel polisher, and Glen Artney is an officially sanctioned RMS certification station, employing four RMS certified examiners.
“For all of us at Glen Artney the focus is on the customer and we try to fix every problem. As we develop the business we will be looking at providing a truck rental operation in-house, which will also give support to operators having an engine rebuild while their own vehicle is off the road. But our number-one priority is to get the workshop running to maximum efficiency with the highest level of service,” added Mick.
When visiting the Glen Artney site it becomes obvious that it was designed from the ground up with the view of simplifying service and maintenance procedures. The 26 m pits built under the service bays are fully serviced with oil and grease supplies built in to the underground area, and tanks store the oil drains and other fluids before being collected for recycling where applicable.
Drivers are also well catered for through the inclusion of on-site bedrooms with TVs, washing machines and driers for their clothing requirements and a lounge area for relaxing while their vehicles are being serviced. This motel-style accommodation is built to a high standard and provides a much-needed benefit to those spending their days on the road away from home.
The importance of energy sustainability has also been considered, with water being recycled and plenty of rainwater storage on site. Solar panels on the roof provide much of the power requirement and it’s the aim at Glen Artney to also become self-sufficient in its electricity generation and solar energy capture.
In designing and building Glen Artney the result has the obvious signs of input from the people that work in the facility to add their knowledge to the final outcome. At the end of the day, it’s the customers and the drivers that will experience the benefits of this close attention to detail and planning.