Born to Haul: Troy Heavy Haulage

Barry Troy was destined to be in the heavy transport industry. His father, Jack Troy, was long regarded by many as the NSW Central Coast’s “gun” low loader driver and spent 34 years with Gosford’s Robson Excavations. Young Barry spent over eighteen years with the same company himself, initially completing his apprenticeship there as a diesel mechanic and then as a tipper and dog driver before eventually taking over as the main float operator upon his father’s retirement.

Barry’s first venture away from Robson’s was opening a local truck driving school, which he built up and ran successfully until selling it off and returning to be an operator rather than an instructor.

In 1990, Barry purchased the first truck that he could call his own – an ex-army Diamond Reo tipper – as well as a float. It was powered by a 335hp Cummins with an Allison automatic – a long way removed from his modern fleet of today. Barry remembers that back then he was doing “mostly flat work”, which the Reo handled remarkably well. After the Reo came a Western Star as the business started to expand, establishing itself as a float and tipper specialist on the NSW Central Coast.

Ever since, the company has diversified – particularly over the past decade – in order to grow the overall operation and also to be less vulnerable to a downturn in any one particular sector.

For example, persistent rain can have a serious effect on earthworks and construction, and the decision to diversify into the other areas has proved to be good insurance. “It’s been good to be able to have the other sectors to fall back on,” Barry says with some justification.

Today, Troy’s head office is located about 30 kilometres west of Gosford at Central Mangrove in NSW and now controls separate divisions for tippers, floats, general freight within NSW, plus an interstate operation. For those unfamiliar with the locale, Central Mangrove may sound rather rural, but for THH it really is “central” with the vital F3 only a few minutes away in either direction via first class roads.

As with everything else he has done with his business, Barry’s initial foray into the competitive world of general freight was well thought out and has been rigorously managed.

THH spent over a decade involved in transporting potato crops to market from regions as diverse as the Atherton Tableland in Queensland, Ballarat in central Victoria and Hillston in NSW. Barry later elected to step back from some of that work due to unsustainable freight rates. “We don’t need the practice,” is how Barry philosophically made the decision to only keep with profitable routes.

For general and interstate work, THH runs a number of B-double curtain-siders, as well as some step deck and drop deck extendable trailers. Specialised container trailers in both single and B-double configuration are also part of the fleet.

THH’s reputation for reliable delivery has allowed them to secure good general freight work as well as diversifying into refrigerated transport. THH currently has two Brisbane-based trucks with refrigerated trailers delivering fresh and frozen foods to the major supermarket chains in that area. A third refrigerated combination is to be added into Brisbane shortly, while over in WA, THH has a tri-axle water tanker working on a mine contract.

To maintain its fleet of more than 80 pieces of equipment, THH has its own full service facility run by Barry’s brothers Craig and Stephen Troy, who carry out all servicing and major rebuilds in-house.

During any rare periods when nothing in the ever-expanding fleet requires attention, they turn their skills to rebuilding accident damaged Kenworths that eventually join the fleet as fully overhauled vehicles.

This component of the business started after one of THH’s own W model Kenworth’s was totalled in an accident. Barry bought the wreck back from the insurer and his brothers performed a total nut and bolt rebuild to such a standard that not only did the W model return to work, but it also won awards at a number of truck shows. He now keeps his eye out for any low mileage damaged Kenworth that can be returned to service following expert repairs.

Tucked away in one of the workshop buildings happens to be a 1960’s vintage Diamond T that will ultimately receive the full Troy makeover rebuild as a tribute to Barry’s own first truck and also to the same model that he used to ride around with his father when he was still at primary school.

Today, the majority of the prime movers in the Troy fleet happen to be Kenworths. In Barry’s opinion, a K104 with a C-15 Cat engine is “just about bullet-proof and there is nothing in or on them that you can’t rebuild.”

Despite the growth of the general and refrigerated divisions in recent years, to Barry, the float division will always be the key element of his business. Under the direction of Operations Manager, Dave Ward, the Troy fleet of bogie, tri and quad-axle floats never seems to stop with both local and interstate work.  Dave can call on 32 years in the heavy haulage business and following a very long association with Barry, Troy came on-board at THH a couple of years ago.

THH has just taken delivery of the first of two MTE (Modern Trailer Engineering) spread deck floats that were ordered from MTE’s Brisbane facility. Barry says he was impressed with the engineering and build quality of the New Zealand based manufacturer and the favourable currency exchange rate was also a factor in his decision to commit to MTE.

In addition to the diversification of their road freight divisions, THH also embarked upon a course of vertical integration by establishing an earthmoving/excavation division of their own, which now includes a Komatsu dozer, excavators ranging from 24 tonnes down to a 1.5 tonne mini excavator, a couple of rubber-tyred loaders and a Bobcat. A three tonne mini-tipper and a bogie-drive Sterling tilt tray complete the line up.

“We usually use the earthmoving equipment internally on jobs such as moving stockpiles,” says Barry – before adding that THH wasn’t shy of larger work and had also completed the Stage 1 earthworks for the Conongra Gas Turbine Project at Lake Munmorah.

Drawing from his days as an instructor at his own heavy vehicle driving school, Barry has a high expectation of what his drivers should be capable of. Float work in particular is highly specialised, requiring unique skills not just in the driving of the prime mover and manoeuvring an oversized load, but particularly in loading and securing the sometime awkward pieces of plant and machinery that are the “meat and potatoes” of the Troy float division.

“It takes a lot to get good drivers these days and we recently lost a couple to the mines,” laments Barry, who still regularly drives himself. “We are a family orientated business and if a driver fits in then we are happy to put them on permanently so that they receive the benefits of annual and sick leave rather than being left as casuals.” 

When asked what he regarded as his biggest job challenges over the years, Barry immediately comes up with two anecdotes: moving a huge gas turbine for the Munmorah Power Station and re-locating the 100,000 tonne stockpile of overburden from the Pacific Highway at Ourimbah that was used to form the ash dam at the Munmorah Power Station site.

The much publicised collapse of Reed Constructions in NSW hurt many businesses, including THH, which had seven of their own tippers and dogs and eight more sub-contractors devoted to the contract for the upgrading of the Central Coast Highway. Despite the financial blow, Barry insisted that he pay his subbies what they were due before he lines up with the numerous other creditors to see what leftovers the liquidator can come up with.

Despite that yet to be resolved situation, Troy Heavy Haulage continues to move forward providing its clients with unique expertise based on many years of experience. Whether the job is a simple general freight solution or a complex ultra-heavy load that needs to be transported through awkward terrain, Barry Troy and his team continue to treat every challenge with enthusiasm.

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