Bugging Out

A specialty business working in pest control services operates over an expansive territory in Southeast Queensland with the help of Isuzu Ute, its preferred commercial vehicle partner.

Situated at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, Accurate Pest Management (APM) has been growing its footprint and staff in Southeast Queensland where it services all types of building construction, commercial and domestic customers — its main revenue streams.

The work force has surged to 28 full time employees in recent times with nine admin and 19 qualified technicians travelling about the southern corner of the state.

As it dispatches technicians to Hervey Bay in the north and as far south as the Gold Coast, its growing fleet of utility vehicles can travel long distances to attend preinstallation on construction sites, a service fast growing in demand thanks to the recent national housing boom.

To install a termite system APM technicians must be on site before the concrete is poured and the frame is raised.

Pipes are treated by having a physical termite system around them that integrates with the slab.

“It nails to the slab before the builders stand the timber frame,” says Accurate Pest Management Managing Director Mark Hayman.

“We nail and glue it to the perimeter of the actual slab. This happens again before the bricklayers start their work and we conduct checks that there are no cuts or damage to the underground piping to stop a tiny termite from entering for the next ten to 50 years.”

TERM-seal is APM’s flagship product which they use in conjunction with the building’s structural members.

If the builder has already ordered the concrete and they haven’t got a pest controller yet booked, APM, as they would for a domestic callout, can dispatch a vehicle. Responsiveness is crucial.

In such a scenario, where the techs are on call, the vehicles they drive must be reliable.

In recent times the business has aligned itself with Isuzu D-Max, expanding its fleet of vehicles in line with the company’s growth. APM now has 15 Isuzu D-Maxs in total including five new models just this year.

One is a double-cab while the other four are single-cab six-speed vehicles. Manual gearboxes are standard across the fleet.

Domestic vehicles, as they ply the most miles, eventually get transitioned to the pre-construction wing of operations. The business, according to Mark, isn’t compelled to flip the older D-max utes, but has, instead, held onto them as required.

In some instances, they are offered to trainees to help put them through their paces or assigned to a pre-construction role, where the cars are prone to encounter messier conditions onsite.

It’s not uncommon for the back of the vehicle to withstand a more robust treatment. “We’re more than happy to hold onto the older vehicles,” Mark says.

“They’re still tight and not falling apart. The paint work, for one, seems to hang on where the other guys don’t — they fade.”

Presentation matters, of course. It encourages excellence among the staff and serves, to no small degree, as a marketing tool.

“That’s a key for us in getting the brand out there,” Mark says. “That’s probably my favourite compliment: ‘I see your utes everywhere.’”

The remaining non-Isuzu utes in the fleet will be replaced in due course, more than likely over the next 12 months with additional D-Maxs predicts Mark.

The reason? The whole of life costs, as he sees it, are very competitive within the current marketplace.

“They’re less disposable in five years which is the maximum you can potentially get your equipment financed for so it’s almost as though the other guys are building the utes to last about that long so they can just be flipped over and over,” he says.

“The reliability is most certainly there with the D-Max and the serviceability isn’t an issue as they are all mostly new so parts aren’t much of a factor during this COVID-induced schmozzle.” The first Isuzu D-Max, purchased in 2015 is still going strong.

In fact, Mark, who is a second generation pest controller, notes he’s not had one single issue with it. “It’s been fault free,” he says.

“If a ute goes in for an unscheduled service, I have to throw a technician into a sales car where they’re not as productive because they’ve only got a certain amount of tools and they can’t carry chemicals in a sedan. A technician needs to be out on the road and for that to happen we need the vehicles to be in and out of service quick.” The Isuzu D-Max accommodates larger type toolboxes, an air sprayer with dusters and tanks and gels.

These all need to be locked up and secured. The preconstruction team, naturally, requires more tools to service commercial sites.

This includes, ladders, rolls of termite management film, and containers for consumables like nails and gun, gases, nail belts and cutters. Whereas the domestic team, in contrast, is required to be equipped for a multitude of treatments. APM prefers to run with a flat LE tray over a canopy. “We’re not lugging weight around. It’s not heavy loads,” says Mark.

“It’s more sizeable. That said the D-Max pulls without a hitch – no worries.”

A 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine generates 450Nm of torque.

It makes towing a caravan to Noosa — as Mark recently found out when his personal car was in for a service, and he used a company D-Max for the weekend holiday — a breeze.

ServiceM8 is the CRM system relied on to dispatch staff to jobs and it integrates with Apple Car Play, reducing the opportunity for technicians to look at their phones.

Jobs can be viewed at a glance from the dash and techs can communicate with clients from the actual interface of the car.

If, in case, two technicians have been sent to the same job, they can be notified en route that the trip is cancelled, preventing wasted time.

“In the truck they can jump into the vehicle, put on the aircon and cool down before heading on to the next job without having to touch their phone while in transit,” says Mark.

“That’s a big plus for me. There might be a few envious technicians in the older models without the Apple Carplay but it will filter through eventually.”

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