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MACKSIMISING POTENTIAL | Company Profile – Baker’s Group

Warren Caves visits Baker’s Group in Sydney with the arrival of new Borcat Trailers hauled by 100th Anniversary Mack Tridents – Photography by Torque it Up

When the milestone of being in business for 40 years just so happens to coincide with the centenary celebration of Mack Trucks in Australia, I guess there is nothing left to do but buy not one, but two new limited edition 100th Anniversary Mack Tridents to mark the auspicious occasion.

Already a bit of a Mack man with 25 versions of the brand in the 40-strong fleet, Ted Baker of Baker’s Group located in Sydney’s western suburb of Penrith needed little convincing over the decision to purchase the two 100th anniversary Tridents. It was, after all, his company’s birthday.

Originally operating from Ted’s home as a landscape supply business, the Baker’s Group gradually expanded to three Sydney locations, Marsden Park, Cranebrook and Penrith. Now the business is focussed solely on operating from the Penrith site, improving the operating logistics to better suit the way that the business has grown along with the changes within the industry.

At one point, Ted had decided to wind things back a little, but with new opportunities presented by way of the North-West and South-West rail link projects there were obvious advantages in expanding from the company’s core business of landscape supplies and redirecting it towards civil infrastructure work on large government projects.

As the workload increased, the Baker’s Group business scaled up instead of winding down, and with the demands of the government road projects of the West-Connex, M4 and M5 projects, the expectation of future growth prompted the company to invest further in its future. Contract cartage over the years for large companies like Holcim, Boral and Hanson have also help the business to expand.

The company is currently busy transporting tunnel spoil from the Sydney metro rail tunnel beneath Sydney Harbour to landfill sites and quarry crushing and screening plants throughout the greater Sydney area.

Diversification can bring new ways to improve business opportunities. This has led to Baker’s Group investing in the screening and crushing of materials, carrying out contract crushing for a large national company in Sydney’s west. As Ted explained: “This industry is very competitive, so we decided diversify a little and spread our assets.”

The increased workload that followed resulted in the need for more staff and equipment and enabled more members of the family to become involved in its day-to-day operation.

While Ted still plays a very active part in the daily running of the business, three of his children now play major roles in its daily operation, overseeing approximately 50 staff. Ted’s son Phil is the resource’s manager, another son Luke is workshop manager and his daughter Lisa fills the role of compliance manager for the mass/maintenance and fatigue managed workforce.

The single Penrith location now serves as the transport base alongside the company’s authorised HVIS inspection workshop and a separate division dealing with truck parts.

The task of hauling massive amounts of fill from Sydney infrastructure projects has seen many opportunities for Sydney-based operators to step up to handle the additional work growth. Baker’s Group has itself invested in extra equipment to meet the demand and now operates a mixed fleet of Western Star, Sterling and Mack trucks, with a noticeable swing of late towards the latter.

“The staff at Mack in the Huntingwood branch are really professional and they take the time to understand our operations and appreciate our business. The facility is open 24 hours which supplies the right level of support and the Mack product already meets many of the safety requirements we need to comply with the S.P.E.C.T.S programme under which we operate.”

SPECTS (Safety, Productivity and Environment Construction Transport Scheme) ( for once I’m thankful for an acronym) is a voluntary scheme administered and maintained by the NSW government and designed to improve safety, performance and environmental productivity of heavy vehicles used by the construction industry. With payloads similar to PBS (performance-based standards), SPECTS goes a step further by encouraging councils and local government areas to open up a wider availability of routes for use by compliant vehicles and companies.

Minimum SPECTS requirements include at least Euro5 emissions compliance, satellite tracking, blind-spot cameras and mirrors, reflective markings, mass-assurance systems, ESC, roll stability, AEB (anti-collision system) and “smart” reversing alarms which adjust noise levels dependant on the ambient noise within the operating environment.

The payback for SPECTS operators and local councils are that work is completed by cleaner, newer trucks fitted with the latest safety features, carrying payloads with higher levels of efficiency. This benefits productivity as well as the community with fewer trips and less traffic congestion.

The Bendix “Wingman” system is fitted to the latest Baker’s trucks and offers blind-spot monitoring via camera and collision-mitigation using radar technology to monitor the vehicle surroundings. An in-cab monitor displays vision from a total of six camera viewpoints.

“We now have fifteen trucks operating to SPECTS regulations and Mack Trucks understands this is a key requirement for us,” says Ted.

The Baker’s Group has relied on Borcat Trailers to supply its truck bins and trailing equipment since its inception, with a relationship that dates back to the purchase of the company’s first new Borcat trailer back in 1985.

The two new 100th Anniversary Mack Tridents are fitted with Borcat’s latest Ultra Lite bins and these are matched with new Borcat Ultra Lite four-axled dog trailers.

These new combinations conform to PBS requirements and are fitted with 430 mm BPW disc brakes and BPW (Haldex) EBS systems, Edbro CS17 4-stage hoists and Alcoa wheels with polished Durabright outers and mill finish inner surfaces.

The Baker’s Group has been using the Ultra Lite design for the past four years and the bin dimensions for the quad-axle trailers are 8000 mm in length and 1525 mm in height. The tipper bodies for the Tridents are 4600 mm long by 1525 mm high and are fitted with waterproof tarps by Airtarps (with manual over-ride), Edbro CS13 3-stage hoists and Ringfeder 5050AP air Ringfeder couplings. Borcat digital weight gauges are fitted in the cabin.

The Ultra Lite combinations are now fitted with 5 mm Hi-Tensile rock sheets to the sides, front and tailgate together with 13 mm Oku-Slide floor liners. These provide a quicker and more consistent discharge while preventing material hanging up and sticking.

As John Thompson, managing director of Borcat Trailers said: “These new PBS-approved trailers are typical of how the transport industry is implementing higher standards that apply to braking efficiency and road safety that in turn promote greater utilisation and profitability.

“We work with our customers to provide an easy solution for conforming to PBS requirements and complete all the necessary product standard approvals on their behalf, simplifying the ordering process,” added John.

Ted Baker remains highly involved in the day-to-day running of the business and remains true to the historic reputation of truck operators where their word is their bond and a handshake cements a deal.

“Mack Trucks is the best fit for our business. We have had a lot of different trucks over the years, but right now Mack works best,” said Ted.

“We see a lot of job applicants coming in who cannot drive manual or non-synchromesh transmissions. As we still have quite a few older trucks in operation we find this quite limiting, so we are now purchasing AMT (automated manual transmission) equipped trucks of which the Mack, mDrive does well.

“We are planning to move some of our older trucks on to modernise our fleet and at this point we will be going with Mack AMT trucks.”

Baker’s Group’s two new Trident birthday presents have been very busy working on the Sydney metro rail tunnel, operated by two of the company’s long-term drivers.

The 100th Anniversary Mack models that feature under the “Limited Edition Centenary Mack” production run comprise of Trident and Superliner models, individually numbered to incorporate 100 years of Mack Trucks in Australia.

Based on standard models, the centenary editions feature a unique build number and owners can choose a year between 1919 and 2019 to personalise their trucks. Ted’s two trucks are build numbers 1 and 3 with Ted choosing 1980 for one, the year he started the business, and 1954, his birth year.

The Tridents are fitted with the 13-litre MP8, 535 hp engine and 12-speed, mDrive AMT. Setting them apart from a standard Trident are heritage cab and chassis paint colours, laser- cut 100-year alloy bumpers, leather infill seats with 100-year insignia, along with 100-year insignias on the doors and between the seats. A commemorative plaque signifies limited-edition status with recorded numbers. And of course, there’s a gold bulldog on the bonnet.

Forty years must be a very special celebration for Ted and his business as he also revealed that he has a centenary edition Superliner on order for use with the company float trailer.

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