Buying well-maintained pre-owned trucks that have been operating in a rental fleet can be an attractive option, giving trucks a second bite of the cherry. Paul Matthei spoke with Vince Mannone, owner of VA Hire Transport, who is using pre-owned trucks in his varied fleet.
VA Hire is a transport operation steeped in diversity, having originally been formed 10 years ago as a driver hire business for Australian television broadcasting companies. The company’s own transport operation started around five years ago.
It now that comprises a wide range local, regional and interstate general freight operations as well as container carrying and warehousing. Accordingly, the company’s trailer fleet consists of curtain-sided, flat-top, side-loader and skel trailers.
“My wife and I originally set up the business to hire drivers to operate other people’s vehicles, transporting specialised outdoor broadcasting equipment in semi-trailers,” says Vince Mannone. “Then one thing led to another, and we decided to buy our own trucks.”
Vince explains that the company still manages the driver hire needs of the broadcasting companies in addition to running its own trucks which are kept busy carting general freight around Melbourne, across Victoria and to interstate destinations including Sydney, Adelaide and, occasionally, Brisbane.
“The driver hire side of the business is just for the broadcasting companies, all of which have their own trucks that require drivers,” Vince says, adding that the high value of the equipment in the trailers precludes him from towing these with his own prime movers.
A Lengthy history
Vince’s experience in transport goes back a long way. He has been driving trucks for close to 30 years and around 20 years ago he bought five rigid trucks and started doing a market run for his father who was an agent at the Footscray produce markets at the time.
“I was picking up fruit and vegetables from the farms in refrigerated rigids and delivering to the markets and from there we progressed into general freight which before long became a seven day a week operation,” says Vince. “After a few years of that I’d had enough so I sold the business and did a few years managing other transport companies and a bit of driving also.”
Asked whether his current business has returned him to the frenetic pace of the former one, Vince says he is a bit older and wiser these days and has employed people in the office who assist with the running of the business so he can take some time off when necessary.
“These days I can kick back a little, knowing that I have reliable people who are capable of running the show. That takes a big load off me,” says Vince.
Staff consists of 13 drivers and two people in the office doing the administration and allocation of the loads.
“We are a small family business and I want to keep it that way,” says Vince. “I haven’t had to change drivers since I started and even their wives say to them, ‘If you leave this job, I’m going to leave you’,” he adds with a laugh.
“I’m very fair with all the drivers and I treat them the way I would like to be treated,” says Vince earnestly. “If it’s too hot to sleep in the truck in summertime when they are interstate, I put them up in a motel. When you’re making a good dollar, you need to give a bit back to the drivers for their comfort and wellbeing.”
Vince works on the principle that without the drivers there would be no transport business. He acknowledges that they are the face of the company to the clients and ambassadors for the business. He also remains pragmatic, giving trucks a second bite of the cherry.