Fresh Prince

In the cultural melting pot of Western Sydney, one couple demonstrate that hard work and excellent service create a successful specialist transport company.
Sunny Ahmed.

The pandemic was instrumental in confirming to the population that food items didn’t just magically appear in supermarkets and that an efficient network of transportation is required to ensure reliable deliveries of essential foodstuffs.

Whether it’s a full truck load or just a few cartons, temperature control is key to food freshness and hygiene.

The food safety requirements of end clients, whether supermarket customers or end users such as restaurants and cafes, depend upon operations such as CoolWay Trans to manage the challenges associated with the logistics of refrigerated transport and storage.

The single truck operation Sunny Ahmed and his wife Anna established in 2014 has since grown to more than 60 trucks and more than 100 staff on an ever-expanding national footprint.

CoolWay’s fleet of temperature-controlled vans and trucks is closely managed to ensure food items are maintained at the applicable correct temperatures be they frozen, chilled or dry.

To support the on-road operations, CoolWay has established its own network of temperature-controlled warehouses strategically located in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

In 2011-12 Sunny worked collecting trolleys in a suburban shopping centre and observed refrigerated trucks delivering items to fast food outlets such as Pizza Hut and KFC. He progressed to delivering pizzas for Dominoes, before moving on to hold driver roles in the transport divisions of Aldi, StarTrack, Linfox and Chemtrans.

These roles provided Sunny with a comprehensive understanding of transport, and it was his position as an afternoon shift manager at the Sydney branch of Adelaide Refrigerated which provided a valuable background in specialised refrigerated transport.

A UD Quon with a front mounted Carrier unit.

Sunny still harboured the strong aspiration of getting his own truck, which he did with Anna and some financial help from his parents in 2014, sub-contracting urgent and after-hours deliveries for a courier company specialising in refrigerated transport.

That first truck was a ten-pallet UD PK240 automatic. Sunny kept working at his full-time job at Adelaide Refrigerated and engaged his first driver on what became the genesis for CoolWay Trans.

“The company we contracted to went broke, and a customer called me and said they needed a truck there the next morning,” recalls Sunny.

“I told them I felt it was wrong to go to them directly but they told me the company had gone bust and ‘You get the truck here tomorrow morning you can have this work’.”

Sunny adds, “That’s how CoolWay started — 12 years on we still have that customer and the same driver now operates one of our B-doubles.”

As more trucks have been required Sunny has expanded the fleet predominantly with brands from the Volvo Group: UD, Mack and Volvo.

Sunny remains impressed by the UD’s abilities to be reliable and capable of carrying the weight, which in efficient refrigerated transport is mostly at maximum GVM, while returning excellent fuel efficiency.

The twin-steer configuration on the latest model UD CG 32 430s contributes to confidence in relation to axle weight compliance and presents the opportunity to perform regional work which other 14-pallet operators with single steer trucks may find difficult due to the risk of being overweight on the front axle.

The ‘local’ trucks are already mostly UD and there is a plan to standardise the fleet over the next few years and phase out other makes to eventually be entirely Volvo-UD.

“We just want to stick to the one brand, and I want to have trucks universal so I can use them anywhere,” says Sunny.

Regular runs include the Central Coast and Newcastle daily plus Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie twice per week and Canberra three times a week. The interstate linehaul trucks can cover up to 5,000 kilometres each week.

Servicing of trucks and trailers is carried out inhouse and more than $100,000 has been spent recently on equipment including truck hoists.

CoolWay has been an enthusiastic adopter of the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme and runs a refrigerated A-double weekly to Perth, often reconfiguring as a triple roadtrain from Wagga Wagga with an additional trailer which is taken up from Melbourne.

“That’s the beauty of having your own fleet and drivers,” says Sunny. “You know your costs and you can be sure about compliance.”

CoolWay staff attend to a B-double.

Sunny envisages even more PBS combinations in CoolWay’s future with the goal to move more freight with less cost and less emissions.

It is unlikely that CoolWay will be ordering any more traditional B-double trailer sets, concentrating instead on tag trailers and dollies.

“Like every other business we want to be profitable and even though we can’t currently take an A-double as far as our Brisbane depot in Acacia Ridge, it’s proved more efficient to break the trailers up at Chinderah,” he says.

“To survive we have to be competitive and for those reasons PBS is going to play a big role.”

During the next two years Sunny is looking at the feasibility of utilising 12-pallet refrigerated pig trailers to complement the rigid trucks used in regional areas such as Dubbo and Canberra.

“Instead of sending a semi-trailer and a rigid to Canberra twice a week, a 12-pallet pig trailer behind the rigid can have access anywhere and when the DC deliveries are done, the driver can drop the pig and then do shopping centre direct drops from the rigid,” Sunny explains.

CoolWay trucks are monitored every kilometre of their journeys using Hubfleet which incorporates electronic work diaries and operates via the mobile phone network.

“We have a dedicated person monitoring at all times and making sure the GPS location matches the logbook,” Sunny says.

This also applies to the ‘local’ trucks operating within the statuary 100 kilometres of their base and a comprehensive pre-start check is performed every time a driver leaves a yard regardless of their destination.

“I learned a lot from the big corporates, and I just want to be able to sleep at night and not be concerned about what’s going on with our trucks,” adds Sunny.

The choice of Carrier fridge units also goes back to CoolWay’s early days.

“Back in the day when we were new, Darrin Klein from Carrier came and spoke with us. We were nobody, just five trucks, and he said he wanted us to buy a unit, not necessarily then, but sometime in the five years,” says Sunny.

“Carrier go above and beyond and we can just ring them 24/7 for backup service. Carrier has supplied five out of the six B-double sets we’ve acquired in the past year.”

Sunny and Anna have a philosophy of not growing by acquisition but want to continue to expand their business organically.

“We don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best without our trucks breaking down,” he says.

“We want to be the Ferrari of refrigerated transport, and with more customers and an expanded fleet we can deliver even better service.”

CoolWay owners Sonny and Anna Ahmed.
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