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MARKET TO RESTAURANT: BIG MICHAEL’S DELIVERS FRESH WITH ISUZU TRUCKS

From small things come big things, and that’s where Big Michael’s story started.

Peter Marinos and his father, Michael—nicknamed Big Michael—founded Big Michael’s straight after Peter finished his diploma in project management. The spark for this entrepreneurial undertaking came while Peter was still studying.

At the time, Peter was working small side jobs, such as mowing lawns and cleaning cars, when his dad went away on a holiday and asked Peter to help with a gig on the side. This side hustle typically saw Big Michael drop by the markets in his ute on his way home from work twice a week, purchasing fruit and vegetables and deliver them to his one and only customer.

“I think I made more money in those two days than I did working a whole week of casual jobs,” Peter said and laughed.

In 2009 Peter established Big Michael’s Fruit and Vegetables with his dad’s ute, slowly adding customers to the existing one-customer database. It wasn’t too long before the next customer came on board—Café Mondial on Albert Street in Brisbane. Other customers soon followed.

Before long Big Michael’s grew and began servicing across south-east Queensland, upgrading to an Isuzu trucks fleet and delivering to restaurants, hotels, bars, mine sites, childcare centres, retirement homes… and everything in between.

Being the owner and operator of a business is never easy—and Peter knows this from experience.

“Basically, my role is finding solutions, fixing problems—wherever it is, whatever it may be,” Peter said.

A standard day for Peter involves working seven days a week constantly answering phone orders and organising deliveries. He begins his day at around 1.30 am, checking the loads on the trucks and handling any emergency orders that come up.

It’s a demanding job, but one that’s made easier with his team of about 25 employees and dedicated fleet of 12 Isuzu trucks.

To support the business’s daily operations, as well as to support its growth, Big Michael’s has a mix of light- and medium-duty trucks—four NPR 45-190s, two NNR 45-150s, two NQR 87-190s, two NLR 200s (NLR 45-150), one FRR 525 and one FVL 1400 (FVL 240-300).

Peter bought his first truck, the FRR 525, in 2010 at Brisbane Isuzu in Archerfield, only a year after starting the business. To keep up with the heavy flow of business, he knew he needed a truck instead of a ute. Additionally, Peter needed a refrigerated body to keep his fruit and veg cool, rather than roasting in the sun like they would in the back of a ute. Therefore he turned to Bajair in Rocklea to fit a refrigerated body on his Isuzu truck.

Peter needed as much payload capacity as he could—fruit and vegetables weigh a lot more than you’d think. Imagine a truck full of watermelons for a juice bar.

For him, the ute didn’t cut it, but he found that the Isuzu trucks definitely do. With a GVM of 4,500 kg in just the NPR 45-190 alone—the lightest truck in the fleet—Peter has no worries about carrying what he needs to.

Despite having tried other brands of trucks, Peter couldn’t find another that could compare with the level of quality and style the Isuzu trucks provide. To Peter, nothing looks as sleek and stylish as the Isuzus do.

Peter said, “I looked at other brands, but to be honest, I just liked the look of the Isuzus better.

“It’s one uniform, sole look that’s consistent… I could buy an F Series and an N Series and know they’re going to look like part of the same Big Michael’s fleet.”

But it’s not just what’s on the outside that’s important. Peter loves the visibility from inside the Isuzu cab and its spaciousness. Other brands feature cramped, uncomfortable cabs where Peter felt he couldn’t even rest his arm comfortably on the window.

The large, open windows of the Isuzu mean Peter can comfortably see anything on the roads; this visibility is especially important for Peter when carting truckloads of perishables that other businesses depend on.

And the added bonus of the Isuzu fleet, according to Peter? The exceptional multimedia system featured in his new NPR 45-190s and NQR 87-190s, with Bluetooth capabilities and Isuzu’s satellite navigation system, an important feature Peter describes as “fantastic”—understandably so when having to make hundreds of deliveries in a day.

Of the driving experience, Peter said, “The Isuzu trucks, they’re smooth… The gear changes are honestly better than a car.”

And talking about gear changes, a few trucks in Peter’s fleet feature automated manual transmission (AMT).  Peter thinks AMT helps provide an even smoother ride, and is the winning choice.

“I have three AMT trucks at the moment, and I definitely wouldn’t buy manual again. AMT is the way to go,” Peter said.

Finally, what takes the cake for Peter—Isuzu’s unwavering reputation for reliability.

For a business that does 400 kilometres a day per truck and relies on delivering high-quality produce to customers on time, Peter couldn’t cut back on his fleet’s reliability.

Peter explained, “When you have a reliable and mobile fleet, you have a reliable and mobile business.

“And when you have that, you’re there first and always on time.

“That means customers are going to trust you and be loyal to you; and in such a competitive business, that’s important.”

 

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