Unlike many transport operators, Joe Joseph, Managing Director of JD Refrigerated Transport, wasn’t born into the industry, and he is trying out six of one, half a dozen of the other in B-double prime movers.
He has been growing a highly successful refrigerated transport business and now comparing the respective merits of both Mercedes-Benz and Kenworth prime movers in his line-haul B-double operation.
Joe has an interesting career history for the owner of a trucking firm. He was an accountant with Ernst and Young and spent 20 years in consumer goods and was also in the private equity space in Sydney. However, the native Queenslander wanted a move back to the Sunny State so that their kids could grow up with their cousins in Brisbane.
In 2011, he seized an opportunity to start a small refrigerated transport business in Brisbane that he explains was totally different to the operation he runs today.
“We started out with a small fleet of three-pallet Fuso Canter trucks doing home deliveries and we did that successfully for three of four years before I realised it was a race to the bottom,” says Joe. “We found we were getting undercut here, there and everywhere by people who could afford to buy a $40,000 three-pallet truck and were prepared to work for below the award wage.”
Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, Joe says he took note of the bigger trucks coming in to deliver to one of his customers and subsequently decided to put a proposition to them.
“I knew we had all the core competencies in refrigerated transport, so I went to our client and asked them if they’d let me get my head under the hood,” says Joe. “I told them we could consolidate their freight, save them a bit of money and deliver a better service, and sure enough it worked, which was the catalyst we needed to transition away from the smaller trucks and into the bigger ones, that I had initially seen as a barrier to entry when I started.”
One of the clever things Joe did after coming from a senior position in consumer goods was that after gaining his MC licence he spent six months driving rigids and semis full time in order to learn about transport from the ground up. This stood him in good stead when it came time to start building the fleet of heavy rigid trucks and prime movers he now operates.
“Knowing what I knew from the other side of the fence was probably enough to start with,” says Joe. “Operating the truck for six months gave me a solid grounding with all the technology that underpins our business today not only our fully integrated transport management system but also the hand-held technology in every single truck we now operate.”
Joe explains that every proof of delivery (POD) is electronically captured and beamed up to the Cloud in real time for the client to access, along with satellite tracking and temperature monitoring. Quite literally nothing is left to chance.
“We also have wireless core probes in every vehicle and trailer that are put into the product to track the core temperature for the entire journey,” Joe says. “That all stemmed from my experience on the road and I had this mentality of crawl, walk, run; build the foundation strong and then grow a sustainable business, which is exactly how it’s turned out.