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Whatever the time of year, or whatever the circumstance, we can rarely resist setting up the backyard barbie, or have a cuppa in the garden with the portable outdoor heater on—even in Tasmania, and even during COVID-19 self-isolation.

To do these, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is commonly used to light up the grill and power portable outdoor heater. LPG is typically supplied in the form of 45 kg gas cylinders, and many households also use LPG for a range of purposes, such as for cooking, hot water systems, outdoor heaters, air conditioning refrigerants, and back-up generator applications.

And for the Tassie populace, it is folks like Greg Smith who ensure all households’ LPG needs remain fuelled.

Greg Smith, CEO of TRB Gas, has been transporting gas throughout Tassie for over 15 years. When he first started TRB Gas, it was with a a ute and a trailer, which he used to ferry gas cylinders to customers for home and camping uses—predominantly for the BBQ industry and fuelling outdoor heaters and portable generators.

But that ute-and-trailer set-up only lasted six months.

Greg explained and said, “We saw opportunity for growth, so we got a truck. Our first truck was the Isuzu FRR 525 (FRR 107-210), followed by the FVR 950 (FVR 165-300).

“The business grew quickly and we progressed from two trucks to six.”

TRB Gas continued to deliver across Tasmania, from the east coast to the west coast, from the south to the north. In 2015, the network established by Greg (and Kleenheat Gas) was acquired by Elgas, one of Australia’s prominent LPG suppliers.

This meant further business growth for TRB Gas, and in order to keep up with the demand, Greg expanded his truck fleet, remaining an Isuzu fan every step of the way.

Greg said, “Since our first FRR, we have been changing our vehicles every five to six years… and we are now on our third generation of Isuzu trucks.”

The third generation of TRB Gas trucks is populated by three spiffy Isuzu FSD 140-260s, which are definitely working hard even in these tough times.

Despite COVID-19 posing challenges for many industries, as an essential good and service the demand for gas delivery hasn’t stopped: TRB Gas has seen an increase in the demand for LPG deliveries.

“Last month we had a 30% increase in business, which is likely related to COVID19… We  are quite fortunate to be in the position we are in,” Greg said.

“For us, business is normal. Our operations have remained pretty much the same, as our drivers already do drive alone and have minimal contact with the general public, though of course social distancing measures are put in place.

“All we’ve had to change since COVID-19 is implementing contactless delivery and unloading, and we sign off the forms on behalf of our customers.”

When asked about TRB Gas’s clientele as an Elgas agent, Greg said, “We deliver gas bottles to small businesses, as well as to national contracts and service stations.

“Our bottles are filled in Launceston and transported to the various regions of the state.

“We also ensure that the bottles are faced outward, which makes sure that other road users can see the product we are transporting.”

For TRB Gas, the rise in sales has meant more time on the roads for their fleet of Isuzu FSDs—which, for most, means the risk of more downtime, but Greg said that hasn’t been an issue.

“Time spent on the road and working is the most important thing for us, so downtime would naturally be a concern.

“But thankfully we haven’t had any downtime at all. My Isuzu trucks are just very good, and the support from Webster Trucks has been really good,” Greg said.

“The team at Webster Trucks services our vehicles on time, all the time, and we’ve had zero downtime. With them, there are no dramas.

“If any of our trucks ever breaks down, we know we have the support of the 24-hour roadside assist service, though it’s something we’ve never had to use. That’s why we keep using them.”

When asked about the reason behind choosing the FSD model, Greg said, “We need a premium model for the load that we carry.

“Also, they are very easy to drive and navigate, and this is crucial given that our drivers deliver to cities and around towns.”

Featuring 14,000 kg GVM and 20,000 kg GCM, and 191 kW of power @ 2,400 rpm and 761 Nm of torque @ 1,450–2,400 rpm, the FSD 140-260 definitely has more than enough power to get the job done.

A typical day for Greg’s team involves seven to eight-hour drives where they drive out with more than 250 gas cylinders and return with empty ones.

Greg said, “For such long hours on the road, comfort for our drivers is also a priority, and the Isuzu FSDs have very comfortable cabins.

“We even fitted the trucks out with fridges so our drivers can take their cold drinks and lunches with them.

“Some of the drivers didn’t want to switch over from the old trucks, but once they drove the new trucks, they didn’t want to give them back,” Greg added with a laugh.

To Greg, taking care of his team by providing the right equipment is top of the list.

“The trucks are their offices, and they deserve the best equipment, and so we get the best of what we can to put in them.

“Most of the guys have been with us for ten years or longer. We don’t have a high turnover, we look after our staff,” Greg said.

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