Finn’s Bulk Haulage: The story of success

Pakenham, a suburb some 60km south east of Melbourne, is home to Finn’s Bulk Haulage, a family company with a history dating back 40 years to a time when a need for garbage cartage saw the long-running name first come into being.

Those humble beginnings were the nucleus for a bulk transport company that today operates a highly specialised fleet including custom-built tippers and tankers, all set up to meet the demands of the local feed mill, which was constructed in 1971. From day one, Finn’s Bulk Haulage were engaged to cart from the facility, and 40 years on, the company is still doing the work on a daily basis.

Jason and Kylie Tivendale – who run Finn’s Bulk Haulage today – had close exposure to the rigours of trucking from a very early age, growing up alongside the vehicles operated by their stepfather and his father before him, with the Finn name emblazoned on the doors as long as they remember. Ever since that time, the Finn family grew the business to accommodate the local feed mill – providing a much needed transport service with a fleet commissioned as customer demand expanded. And, Jason and Kylie were closely involved every step of the way.

“We were around the business from when we were very young,” says Kylie Tivendale-Baker. “As we were growing up, we learned much about the transport business; some even say it was all we knew. With the company growing under the leadership of our stepfather, we knew every truck, every load and what was needed to service the customers, it really was in our blood.”

Effectively Jason and Kylie Tivendale were right at the coalface through the development of the company and attuned to customer needs, experiencing the service requirements of clients as well as the scheduling of trucks and drivers first-hand.

But management of Finn’s changed with the passing of Jason and Kylie’s stepfather John, and now the brother and sister duo is at the helm of the company that plays an integral role in the operation of the mill. Long exposure to the business stood them in good stead to take over the reins and continue to family business.

Jason had, as one can imagine, entered to world of trucking and was behind the wheel at the age of 18, a career that saw him drive for a number of firms prior to the passing of John and the move to buy the company. “With my love of trucks and transport it was a foregone conclusion I would become involved in the industry and when Kylie and I decided to buy the business it really was a natural step for both of us,” Jason says.

“We really knew what this business was all about, we saw the hard work that was put into making Finn’s Bulk Haulage what it is through John’s dedication to our customers and we continue that today. We work very closely with our clients and know exactly what is required to ensure what we do works well for them, yet are flexible enough to make changes should the need arise. It is something of a major goal of ours to continue the tradition and do the very best we can to offer the best in service.”

Finn’s operates a fleet of tippers, pressure and liquid tankers all throughout Victoria and has structured that equipment in line with customer requirements. “We continually look at ways to increase efficiency and productivity, which vital in the work we do because the mills must have grains delivered in order to maintain processing levels,” says Kylie. “The one thing that makes us different is that we know exactly what the mill and its customers require. We are fortunate to have a very experienced team of drivers who know what must be done at the start of each week and go about their duties in a professional manner. If a special requirement arises, they instantly know what must be done to deliver the best in efficiency without question; hence our customers know the load will turn up when we say it will.”

Despite the pair having excellent staff with the ability to take care of business, both freely admit they never clock off, rather they are available at all hours of the day or night if need be and can react quickly should the need arise. If a driver is on leave or in times of illness you will find Jason behind the wheel doing what comes naturally. “We are very hands-on people and know exactly what is happening at all times, something our customers appreciate as do the drivers. We also do little extra things for clients, for example if packages need transporting to another location we will do that without cost after all we are in partnership with customers and see our role as being as efficient as possible and being of valuable assistance,” Jason points out.

The company fleet over the years has included a number of makes but today an on-going upgrade system in place. All prime movers are now Cummins-powered Kenworths purchased from the Hallam Truck Centre. Trailing equipment is mainly Hamelex-White, while Marshall Lethlean, Holmwood Highgate and Jamieson make up the tanker fleet. Recently the company has replaced the stock of older units with new prime movers to give it a modern range of equipment with the best in reliability.

“We have always had liquid tanker work but two years ago we bought our first bulk tanker and now two are in operation. Naturally we have also moved to B-Doubles on most of our tipper work for many of the runs we do to improve productivity,” says Jason. “We do all of our servicing in-house, and for repairs Cummins is just across the road here in Pakenham. Plus, Hallam is not far away and the Truck Centre offers good backup service too.

“All trucks have the one driver which allows them to call their units home, and the result is a fleet that shows their pride in the equipment they operate. All of our drivers are from the local area and have a long service with the company, and should we require a new team member we have people coming to us looking for employment.”

After taking over the company management, Jason and Kylie have addressed new technology gains and installed new computer systems designed to improve efficiencies across the board.
“I admit to being a bit of a technology freak,” says Kylie. “In years gone by most things were done with a reliance on experience only, but technology has changed that dramatically and given us the ability to improve everything we do. You have to be smarter in order to keep customers happy as well as make things run smoothly for us. For instance. all trucks now have GPS and we have introduced new electronic systems to keep us ahead in terms of servicing our customers in the best way possible. Most of our clients have been working with for a long time and we want to keep it that way by doing the right thing the first time, that’s what we are all about.”

Finn’s Bulk Haulage has been in the same Pakenham location for 25 years, but a move is now imminent, with a new depot and workshops being established not far away. “We hope to be in the new premises in about five months’ time and this too is part of our planning to improve services. The facility will give us more flexibility in a number of ways, especially in terms of B-double access,” Jason says.

While the brother and sister team continually plans for the future, it also tries to encourage young people to join the industry through a school visit program it has established to not only highlight careers in trucking, but also promote safety. “We have been taking trucks to different schools and kindergartens in the district to increase awareness of the road transport industry. This has been very well received by students and parents and we hope it contributes to improving the industry image. We are there to answer questions and we try to leave a positive impression on people, young and old,” Jason relates.

“It is really about giving something positive to the community in the form of information about trucks and trucking and I feel it is an extremely valuable exercise. We are also involved in various transport days and hopefully that too is of benefit to industry and the motoring public.”

Jason and Kylie take considerable pride in the fact they are carrying on a company steeped in local service history and look to growing the business in the future through continued customer service. “We are proud of the fact we never advertise our services, rather all of our work is through word-of-mouth recommendation by our customers. What we stand for is reliability and dependability and that will never change, not today or in the future. We make it a point to become a part of our customer’s businesses,” Kylie affirms.

The dynamic brother and sister team are looking forward to writing a new chapter in in the company history and intend to take Finn’s Bulk Haulage a long way without losing sight of the on-going need to continually improve all areas of operation.

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