Routleys And Isuzu: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Back in the late 40s, Victor and Verna Routley started selling delicious baked goods in a rented shopfront in Williamstown, Victoria. A few years later they purchased the shop and began what would soon become the Routleys Bakery empire.

The couple would begin their shift at midnight, firing up the brick-lined Scotch oven, baking not only their speciality pies but also a delectable variety of cakes, sponges and pastry treats.

From 1947 to 1971, they steadily refined their work processes and products, creating a reputation for themselves as the bakery, with some of the best baked products in Victoria.

Then, in 1971, their son Lawrie and his wife bought over the bakery cafe. They built on the incredible reputation Victor and Verna had established, catapulting the bakery into the empire it is today.

Nowadays, Routleys operates as a wholesale bakery supplier, shipping their produce to retail outlets and community groups everywhere—footy clubs, sporting arenas, bakeries, cafes, milk bars, restaurants, caravan parks, government buildings, leisure centres … you name it, they’ll ship it.

On top of their extensive wholesale customer base, Routleys operates ten of its own retail shops scattered throughout the western regions of Victoria.

The reason they’re able to maintain such a large customer base? Sam Routley, Operations Manager and son of Lawrie says it comes down to doing what the competitors won’t.

“We enjoy offering a full service. A lot of big bakeries, once they figure out what their most profitable product is, they just focus on that single item; it might be pies, it might be bread. But Routleys does just about everything, operating six days a week.

“If customers order by 2 pm, we get their orders to them the next morning. That means the team here gets started at 1am.”

But the biggest challenge?

Sam shared, “The most challenging aspect of this job is distribution. Everyone wants their orders as soon as their stores open, so we do our best to make that happen.”

And it’s this persistent challenge that has helped forge a 23-year (and ongoing) relationship between Routleys and Isuzu Trucks.

Having bought their first Isuzu truck just over two decades ago, Routleys has continued to bolster its fleet: their Isuzu trucks now total 10.

“It started with my dad Lawrie, he bought the first Isuzu in 1995, and then we kept buying more,” said Sam.

“Right now, we have two NLRs, a 2010 NLR 200, two 2012 NLR 200s, a 2016 NLR 45-150, a 1998 NKR 200, an NPR 300, a 2016 NQR 87 and a 2017 FRD 110-260.”

“We’ve bought trucks of different sizes and wheelbases for different jobs. The larger trucks team up with our vans, and the smaller N Series trucks go straight out to various clients.”

Which is heavier—a ton of bread or a ton of bricks?

With the amount of bread Routleys carts around Victoria in the early mornings, reliability and power are a necessity. And that is just what the FRD delivers, with 191 kW @ 2,400 rpm and a gross vehicle mass of 11,000 kg.

“One of the trucks travels 250 km a day, and the others do about 100 km a day. With those types of distances, you’d expect some issues … But we’ve never had any issues, that’s why we keep buying them. They’re so good. I’ve never missed a delivery,” said Sam.

Another bonus for Routleys has been the relationship with their local Isuzu dealership, Winter & Taylor in Geelong, Victoria.

Winter & Taylor advised Sam of the best Isuzu model for Routleys’s deliveries and also offered servicing outside of typical business hours, accommodating the operation’s irregular work schedule.

“The after-hours servicing is great. We drop the trucks off when they need servicing and Winter & Taylor drop them back when they’re done. One of the real selling points of Isuzu is its aftersales care and servicing.”

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