ISUZU F SERIES BRINGS THE RELIABILITY FOR TASSIE MANUFACTURER
A bespoke build solution for Steeline’s two FVD 1000s allowed this Tassie manufacturer to optimise its carrying capacity and stand apart from competitors.
John Erends, owner of Tasmania’s Steeline Roofing, is willing to share the perfect recipe for growing your business in a small market: top notch customer service, quality Australian-made products, and trucks that won’t let you down.
In the past decade, John has put 40 years of industry experience to good use, growing Steeline from $1.8 million per annum to a team of 23 staff with a substantial $9 million dollar turnover.
It’s no mean feat when the competition is fierce and your customers are some of Tassie’s most discerning tradesmen.
“This business took a while to kick off, it didn’t get to where it was overnight,” John said.
“In the building industry you’ve got to keep bobbing your head up and making yourself available, and try to meet the needs of the potential customer.
“In a small market, there’s no heading across town to try and take the trade from someone else –because there is no across town. You have to deal with the area you’ve got and just be the very best you can.”
Steeline is a nationwide group of roofing independents that specialise in manufacturing and delivering customised building product supplies roll formed from Bluescope Australian-made steel.
“Steeline is a buying group as such, not a franchise. There are 30 of us across the country, operating from Perth and as far north as Cairns,” John said.
“Our biggest supplier is Bluescope Steel Australia, they supply us the flat roofing sheeting and we put it through our machines to produce everything from customised roofing sheets through to structural beams for sheds, garages and patios.”
Five years ago, John’s Tasmanian operation was going from strength to strength and demand for deliveries had increased.
When John was keen to put the headaches of unreliable trucks behind him, he purchased his first Isuzu FVD 1000. It proved such an asset that Steeline added a second FVD to their small fleet earlier this year.
“I definitely think having reliable trucks has been one of the secrets to keeping our customers happy and growing the business.
“Before we had the Isuzus, breakdowns were one of the first things on our mind every day and now it’s one of the last – the Isuzus have taken the worry out of the equation.
“A customer of ours might have tradies waiting on site for the roofing material to arrive so we just can’t afford to have trucks breaking down as we’ll be costing them money.”
When John purchased his first Isuzu, a close collaboration was formed with Shane Hilder and the team from Webster Trucks to develop a bespoke build solution that could efficiently transport lengthy pieces of roofing equipment.
“Initially we thought we’d have to buy a semi to carry the lengths of material we needed to, but after talking to Webster Trucks we realised we could make a fixed tray work for 95 per cent of the job requirements we had.
“Webster Trucks listened to what we needed and took care of the whole build, lengthening the chassis to give us the longest tray we could and designing a racking system that could run over the cab.”
When the second Isuzu was purchased, Websters and Steeline were given an opportunity to perfect their initial design and maximise the FVD’s carrying capacity even further.
“On our first truck we could carry 11 metre sheets on top, and with our newest FVD we can carry 12.5 metres over the cab and eight metres on the flat-bed.
“The racking system which runs over the cab was signed off by an engineer as we had to make sure we adhered to regulations and weren’t putting anyone at risk. We strictly follow the weight restrictions of not putting any more than 750 kg on top.
“Most of our sales are for roofing sheets of up to 12.5 metres and for the very small percentage that is bigger than that, we’re happy to get a contractor in with a semi to deliver those.”
Both trucks were also built to accommodate a Fassi loader crane with an outreach of 15 metres that tucked in neatly behind the cab.
“We needed the trucks to have a crane that could lift up to 1.5 tonne, and the FVD 1000 had enough power to operate that level of auxiliary equipment,” John said.
John said the unique racking system on Steeline’s FVDs has allowed them to provide a service that many of their competitors aren’t equipped to do.
“Other roofing manufacturers here use quite a different set up and most don’t use a racking system, so they do have issues with delivering the longer length building products,” John said.
“Ticking off our wish list for the Isuzu trucks was made that much easier because the guys at Websters just took hold of requirements and said ‘we can do this for you’.”
Aside from a friendly rivalry between competitors, John said it’s vital to maintain a good relationship with your customers and suppliers when you’re operating in such a small market.
“I treat my suppliers the same way I treat my customers, each and every one of us has to help each other,” John said.
“The suppliers are just as important as the customers, because without a continuing reliable supply chain, you can’t provide the service to your customers and that’s a really important link that some people forget about.
“You need to be friendlier and very customer-focused when you’re operating in Tasmania. We need people to come and see us and enjoy the experience. Relationships are much more important here than they are in the big smoke.”
As well as keeping his customers happy, John’s two Isuzu F Series trucks are keeping his drivers smiling when out on the job.
“Because of Tasmania’s landscape, 70 per cent of the time our drivers are going to building sites on a hill and the feedback has been that the trucks handle the sloping sites beautifully.
“The drivers are more than happy with the comfort, ease of operation with the crane and the great lifting capacity.”
John and his team are already looking at purchasing a new long bed tray truck, and Isuzu is currently looking the firm favourite.
“I tell my staff that it isn’t me that pays their wages, it’s the customer. So whatever we can do to make them come back, we need to do it.
“It’s important that delivery is done in a timely and professional manner and that’s what Isuzu has helped us achieve.”
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