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The Best in the Biz: Coachbiz

At just 20 years old, Paul Cotterill was bitten by the trucking bug and began his on-the-job learning of how to drive trucks.

Now in his 50s, and over a 34-year career, he realised a passion for teaching people how to drive heavy trucks—and teaching the responsibility that comes with it, too. Paul took his passion to the next level, starting his own heavy vehicle training and assessing business, Coachbiz, based in Wollongong, NSW.

“In today’s fast-moving society, no one seems to have the time to do the full training anymore,” Paul said.

“I don’t do this just for the money… I do it because I want to make a difference in the industry; I want to help put better drivers on the road.”

Paul said he is probably stricter on his trainee drivers than others might be. But that means his drivers really earn their licenses, rather than just passing the test at the end of the day.

“I don’t train people on flat ground where it’s nice and easy, with no obstacles on the road.

“If you’re going to have to drive on the mountains, you’ve got to train on the mountains,” Paul said.

A typical day for Paul starts at 6.30am, with an entire day blocked out for one client. Nine hours later, the client hopefully walks away with an upgraded truck licence.

And Paul always goes above and beyond to make sure his clients come away from his training with as much as driving experience as possible—Paul offers extra training hours for free, lining up jobs for those entering the sector and offering his advice over the phone 24/7 if they ever need help.

“It’s quite a rewarding thing to be driving down the road and in the other direction, someone is waving at me because I licenced them a couple of years ago,” Paul noted.

There’s no doubt that to teach heavy truck driving, Paul needs a truck—and a big one at that. In 2019, Paul realised his second-hand European truck just wasn’t cutting it for him or his students anymore. He travelled up to see Warren at Gold Coast Isuzu in Arundel, who traded in Paul’s old truck for a brand new 6-wheeler FXZ 240-350 with a tipper body.

According to Paul, there were numerous reasons behind his decision to trade in his old truck for the Isuzu FXZ: his old European truck had expensive parts, rough welding and was also noisy on the road.

Paul wanted something that was uncomplicated, comfortable and easy to drive—without compromising on quality and reliability.

“Some of my clients have never been in a truck before and can be overwhelmed with too many unnecessary features on the dashboard,” Paul said of his observations.

“I wanted something with a clean design… I’ve found that going to the Isuzu from the other truck, the attention to detail by my students has doubled.”

Paul believes the cabin of the FXZ 240-350 is a big player in why his students love the truck so much. The steering wheel isn’t overly huge—but the cabin is spacious—so his students have lots of space to feel comfortable. And for longer sessions on the road, the Bluetooth hands-free system is perfect.

What also helps is that the turning circle is, according to Paul, surprisingly good for a truck the size of the FXZ.

“Quite often when my students jump out of the truck, they rave about how they hope they can get a job in something like this.

“I never had that with the European truck.”

Paul loves that the turning indicator is situated on the right-hand side of the steering wheel (easy to remember) and also appreciates the important role Isuzu’s ‘spot’ mirrors play for the students.

“In training, no part of the vehicle can cross the control lines of an intersection, or it’s an instant fail.

“Isuzu has a mirror on the front so the driver can look down and see the footprint of the vehicle, and the left-hand side mirror looks into the blind spots of the vehicle.

“It’s those little things and attention to small details that really tick all the boxes for someone that’s starting out in the industry.”

Paul also needed a truck with enough pulling power to tow a 15-tonne plant trailer loaded with concrete blocks: the perfect simulation of a heavy combination vehicle. He found the 24-tonne GVM of the FXZ 240-350, matched with 257 kW of power @ 2,000 rpm, was just right for the job.

And as a final touch, the FXZ’s engine was set up with an Allison 6-speed auto gearbox—a design that Paul trusts.

“It’s a proven design that has been around for ages; it’s tolerant and has longevity.”

Trust in the reliability of his truck is also important to Paul—a breakdown means both lost work and letting down a client. It’s something he doesn’t have to worry about with the Isuzu FXZ. So far, there’s only been a minor issue, which Dwyer’s Truck Centre in Wollongong addressed within a day. This fast turnaround experience provided Paul with ongoing peace of mind.

Paul shared, “Throughout Australia, no matter where my truck is, I know there’s going to be a dealership close at hand to look after me.

“It doesn’t matter whether I’ve called in with the dealership or gone through Isuzu directly, the attention to detail and care factor are always there.

“In a day and age where things are fast and hard, to have that personal touch is a real dealmaker for me.”