Glen Cameron’s story of success

Nestling in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne’s Bayswater is benefiting from – or becoming a victim of – the unceasing urban sprawl creeping ever closer to the once impenetrable rainforest.

Not so long ago, the area was a distant drive from a decent freeway, but with the addition of the fast-flowing EastLink toll road, Bayswater is now conveniently located and plugged into the ring road hub.

In 1974, such metalled superhighway interchanges were far from the mind of a young Glen Cameron setting up his fledgling taxi truck business. But as he has developed the enterprise into a successful multi-discipline national logistics operator, devoted to servicing the needs of a multitude of customers around the country – some exceptionally high profile – he has never moved away from the determination to provide the best possible service.

“We pride ourselves on delivering a level of service our competition can’t offer,” he says simply. “We range from metro distribution to express interstate line haul, but service is the key to our success. Our customers get to speak to the same person within the organisation all the time. It’s about responsibility. And we like to make it easy for people to talk to us,” he says – referring back to the company’s humble beginning in a summer night almost four decades ago.

Back in 1974, British company Mitchell Cotts laid off young Glen Cameron just before Christmas, bringing his career to a sudden stop. Raised in an environment dedicated to the transport industry, Glen, then aged 22, didn’t wait a day to bounce back and established a ‘taxi truck’ company supplying the Melbourne metropolitan area.

“In the beginning, our fleet consisted of one 8-tonne tray owned by a sub-contractor, and the main method of communication was an old, red phone box just down the road from the first depot in Doncaster, Victoria,” Glen says.

Inspired by his father Ed Cameron, and acclaimed pioneer of Australia’s commercial road transport industry, Glen went to great lengths to make the start up grow, utilising the experience gained in the old family-owned company. “I worked for Dad’s company since I left school in 1970, so I knew the business,” he says. “The company, at that time, was an interstate line haul business, predominantly supplying the area up along the eastern seaboard; carting produce, chilled and frozen product; and general cargo. But I had a different approach, founding a metropolitan trucking service.” Ever since, success proved Cameron Jr. right.

The turnover for the opening year was in the vicinity of $160,000. Today, the business employs some 560 staff and 300 sub-contractors, and runs 750 trucks, 400 of which it directly owns. The Glen Cameron Group has been on an upward growth trajectory for some years and has recently taken on the job of delivering for Masters Home Improvement in Victoria, from the customer’s distribution centre to their 13 hardware superstores around the state.

To pull five brand new Vawdrey tri-axle trailers with their new, innovative buckle-free Titeliner curtains, Glen Cameron’s team have selected Scania G 440 prime movers in 6×4 configuration. The 440 hp six-cylinder engines drive through the Scania Opticruise two-pedal fully automated gear change. Scania Retarders are fitted as well, along with a Sleeper Cab, and tare weight-reducing alloy wheels.

And the Scanias for the Masters contract are not the first the company has had, with 33 already in use delivering (predominantly) to supermarkets across several states. “We have been encouraged by the relationship to date,” Glen says of the Scandinavian experience his team has encountered.

“For us, the relationship with the manufacture is critical. There has to be support through the whole life cycle. By support we mean spare parts supply, routine maintenance, everything that backs the product. Over the past 12 to 18 months, Scania has been excellent. They have been upholding their end of the bargain, although we have not had any reason yet to test their responsiveness,” Glen says.

“We have all our Scanias on Repair and Maintenance contracts because we like the predictability of the running costs and the control it gives us. And because our business is spread across the country, we can have the vehicles serviced by the national Scania network,” he says.

Vehicle familiarisation is an important part of the Glen Cameron philosophy, ensuring the drivers understand the features and functions of the vehicles they drive. “We have a dedicated Driver Trainer in Gary Miller, because it is paramount that the drivers understand the vehicles they drive. These trucks are complex machines, not agricultural. They are sophisticated and the drivers need to understand how they work. We also ensure there is good knowledge on load restraints and fatigue regulations, all of which leads to improved OH&S.”

The Glen Cameron Group also takes fuel consumption reduction seriously. “We are focused on fuel and use real time and historical vehicle and driver performance data to monitor fuel use. Trucks are getting better on fuel all the time. Our Scanias are good, though they are still relatively new,” Glen says.
“We are encouraged by what we have seen so far. We ran a demonstrator for a while which suggested we would get good fuel.

“Fuel is one of a number of criteria we use when considering new acquisition: support and whole of life costs are also key ingredients. It is a very competitive market, but based on our experience, Scania should be part of that mix,” he says.

“Glen is fanatical about his vehicles,” says Dean Dal Santo, Scania National Wholesale Manager. “Or maybe that should be fastidious. He certainly takes a lot of care to ensure they are correctly specified and that when in service they hit their anticipated performance criteria.

“We enjoy working with the Glen Cameron Group, because they know what they want and we are able to show we can deliver it. Our demonstrator programme impressed them with its fuel use and our low emission, high efficiency engines helped gain us entry into this fleet. While the Glen Cameron Group sees itself as a medium-sized player in the logistics market, we like to see it as a high quality player. The vehicles are always well presented, which means the drivers take care of them, and that also helps reliability.

“Glen ensures his drivers know how to operate their vehicles correctly too, which means he gets the most from them. This is a philosophy we also share at Scania. We want our customers to be able to extract the maximum advantage, maximum uptime, out of our trucks, which helps reduce their operating costs, boosting their profitability.

“We are very confident the new G 440 EGR trucks that will pull the Masters trailers will deliver for Glen, allowing him to deliver great service in turn to his customer,” Dean says.

And Glen? Despite – or maybe because of – leading a team of 560 people and more than 300 sub-contractors, he is still dedicated to the old motto: “One team, one goal. We want to provide quality services at a reasonable price and excellent customer service – and in the same breath look after our most valued people, our staff,” he resumes. “Our goal? Continued growth. The past years have been good years for Cameron – due to our regard in the industry. We’re recognised as being a quality operator at a reasonable cost; and we intend to maintain rapid growth.” Contracts like the recent Masters job will certainly add to that goal.

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