In 1979 brothers Kevin, David and Peter Murada started a trucking business, Metal Transport Industries, hauling scrap metal for BHP at Wollongong. Having started with four trucks, the company has grown and diversified over the years to include heavy haulage and oversize work, Paul Matthei reports.
The Murada brothers grew up around heavy machinery as their father operated an earthmoving business which included three bulldozers, a prime mover and a float used to shift the machinery from job to job.
Later on, he had excavators fitted with magnetic shears for handling scrap steel, which along with the earthmoving equipment could well have been a pivotal factor in his sons cutting their transport teeth in the scrap steel hauling business before moving into heavy haulage some years later.
“We had that background with machinery and trucks that probably influenced us in the career path we took,” Kev says.
Both Dave and Kev completed mechanical apprenticeships, Kev as a fitter in a coal mine and Dave a mechanic at truck and car dealer Dwyers at Wollongong, after they left school. But when the opportunity to start their own business arose, they grabbed it with both hands.
The brothers greatly appreciate the assistance and knowledge their father gave them in their formative years, which particularly helped them in getting their fledgling business off the ground.
With the four semi-tipper combinations and a scrap steel cartage contract with BHP in hand, Metal Transport Industries was off to a flying start and everything went smoothly for the first four years or so. However, in 1984 a large haulage company based at Wollongong decided it wanted a piece of the Murada brothers’ pie.
“We were undercut on price and lost the BHP contract which forced us to sell three of the trucks,” says Dave. “But a year later we won it back again because BPH realised they weren’t getting the same top-shelf service from the other company that we had been giving them.”
Although it was a temporary setback for the business, the brothers fought back and continued to build it to the point where, by the late ‘80s, they had nine trucks doing the scrap metal haulage.
At this stage they decided to diversify and bought a Brentwood float so they could start hiring out their father’s excavators to scrap merchants like Sims Metal.
“We were floating the machines to their yards and handling the scrap metal for them which added another string to our bow,” Kev says.
Further diversification was to follow in 1992 when the company began carting tinplate scrap from canneries in Melbourne, Shepparton, Kyabram, Brisbane and Sydney back to BHP in Wollongong for recycling. This contract ran for 15 years until 2007.
“That helped us grow to about 16 trucks and we also set up our own depot in Melbourne and used another company’s depot in Brisbane where we collected the scrap before trucking it back to Wollongong,” says Dave, adding that they used some flat-top trailers so they could carry general freight to both capitals and haul the tinplate scrap on the return journeys.
“We actually used both flat-tops and tippers on that job because we had enough diversity in the freight going to Melbourne and Brisbane at the time,” says Kev. “With the flat-tops we used sheet steel lined gates to contain the load and when the trucks reached their destination the gates were removed and the tinplate scrap was pushed off by wheel loaders.”
In the mid-‘90s, when the B-double first started on its meteoric rise to domination of the line-haul trailer market, the company embraced the combination in both tipper and flat-top formats for its tinplate scrap carting operation, hauling scrap metal for BHP.
Soon after that, the Muradas started ramping up the heavy haulage arm of the business, purchasing another Brentwood float in 1997 to complement the initial unit.
The final year before the dawning of the new millennium heralded a significant milestone for Metal Transport Industries with the company acquiring its first Drake float, a 4×8 Full Widener.
“From then on we continued to buy Drake floats and we now have 12 of them including one 2×4, four 3x4s, three 4x4s, one 3×8, one 4×8 and two 5x8s,” says Kev, adding that they also own four Drake dollies, a pair each of 2x4s and 2x8s.
“Kev and I like to buy Australian-made products wherever possible, which is another reason why we buy Drake floats and Kenworth trucks,” says Dave.