MAN of the Hour

Notwithstanding some continued good fortune, Kelvyn Fuller, owner of K&S Fuller Transport, suspects his new 580hp MAN trucks, given their charmed run and reliable output, are just better.

K&S Fuller Transport is a family-owned business with over 50 years of experience in the industry, providing cost-effective, safe, efficient and reliable transport services.

The operation manages small deliveries through to bulk commodities.

It also specialises in moving temperature-sensitive goods. Kelvyn Fuller established the transport company in 1966 in western New South Wales with his wife, Shirley, under the name K&S Partnership.

“Shirley used to do all the paperwork once upon a time, writing it down with paper and pen, but it’s a bit different in the world now,” he says. “With all the regulations we’ve got these days, I think we’ve got three or four people in the office now.”

They had a field depot with garden stock for a while in a little town, with a population of just over a thousand people, called Peak Hill. By this stage Kelvyn and his wife had two children.

This lead to him re-evaluating their situation in 1974. Kelvyn feared the kids might struggle to find a job in the town after they graduated given its small population, so he recommended a move interstate to better set-up their futures.

“I said to my wife, ‘you know, our kids are never going to get a job here when they leave school, so we should either move to Melbourne or move to Brisbane, one of the two’,” he recalls.

At the time the Fullers had some friends living in Brisbane, so they decided to relocate the business closer to the Gold Coast and have remained there ever since.

The move prompted Kelvyn to pursue additional interstate work for a time until he settled on local distribution so as to reduce time spent away from home which he found he was sorely missing.

“I wasn’t majorly impressed with the interstate work because I was never home,” he says. “I just started doing regional stuff up here, and I’ve been basically doing it ever since. I just carried on doing that for the rest of my life, basically.”

Based out of Hemmant, the location gives K&S Fuller good coverage of the wider Brisbane area. Just ten minutes from the port, the main depot is only a few kilometres from the newly announced Penske Australia dealership in Lytton which naturally pleases Kelvyn and his team. Over the years, Kelvyn has seen many trucks go through his fleet.

In the early days he operated a few different International trucks before switching, in the most part, to Kenworth. More recently the company has invested in cabover vehicles with some new MAN units delivered earlier in the year. To date, Kelvyn indictes, he is very happy with how they are performing.

Two new MAN TGX 580 horsepower commercial vehicles with XXL cabs have acquitted themselves above expectations, along with his existing MAN TGX 580 with an XLX cab, which was delivered in April, 2019.

Both are fitted out nicely according to Kelvyn who drove one for a week.

Kelvyn Fuller with his new MAN TGX prime movers.

“I’m happy with the style of them and the ride of them,” he says.

“We’ve got one that’s already done half-a-million-plus kilometres, and it hasn’t caused us any heartache. We’re pretty confident that they’re going to be good trucks.”

According to Kelvyn, he hasn’t experienced any major problems with his MAN trucks, as he explains other brands in the past have had ‘silly little things’ go wrong with them.

“With our trucks we’ve had a lot of different stuff coming up in the dash and telling you something’s wrong when there’s nothing really wrong at all,” he says. “You can’t ignore it. You’ve got to take it back to the workshop to get it checked out. But we haven’t had any of those dramas with the MANs. I don’t know if we’re just damn lucky or whether they’re just better trucks. I think they might just be better off.”

Flexibility for the task or multiple tasks, as the case may be, is a salient consideration given the work involved.

“We do whatever we can with them,” Kelvyn explains. “If we’ve got to, we’ll pluck them out of the air and send it somewhere else. They’re very versatile to do whatever you want to do with them, really.”

One of the 15-litre MAN TGXs is currently running from Mount Isa to Townsville, via Tully and changed over at headquarters.

The other operates Brisbane to Cairns, return. The new MANs aren’t currently required to travel across the border due to difficulties in organising backloads.

The focus, according to Kelvyn, is on their loyal customers in Queensland.

“We just stick with the major players in North Queensland that look after us, because we look after them as best we can,” he says. “They try to load us back every week from there, which works pretty well for us and I dare say it works fairly well for them as well.”

K&S Fuller Transport operations remain, at least logistically, the same as it did 50 years ago, save for the inconveniences caused by the COVID-19 situation.

“We’re still doing everything as normal,” Kelvyn says. “Although we’re lucky that we’ve got enough equipment to cover it with something else. The only drama we’ve got nowadays is like everyone else, getting workers. We’ve been advertising for drivers for three or four months. We need a couple extra drivers, and we’re just getting no response basically at all. It’s just an ongoing thing for everyone.”

Due to supply chain pressures, the business is also having to overcome difficulties in getting trailers moving.

And Kelvyn believes it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon.

“It’s a bigger drama now than what it was before,” he says. “We’re having trouble getting breakdown parts. We’re shifting out of our old depot into a new depot, and we’re trying to get some modifications done. Anyone that I know that’s looking for trucks at the moment have got a big wait on their hands.”

Options at the minute are limited when it comes to purchasing prime movers Many companies are lucky to get their hands on anything — whether new or old.

“With prime movers, you’ve got to take whatever’s available,” he says. “You just can’t pick and choose. You can’t say, ‘look, I want to buy a Dodger or a Kenworth or this or that’ because the stock is not there.”

One of Kelvyn’s suppliers who he ordered a truck from nearly 12 months ago recently, after some prompting, informed him it had been delayed another three months.

However, it’s not an issue Kelvyn has experienced with MAN trucks, with Penske Australia having ordered ample product over a year ago.

“I know another brand we buy, if you order one now you won’t get it until the year after next,” Kelvyn says. “That’s how big a waiting list they’ve got. They’ve got the same problem as everyone else, they’re getting held up with parts. They can get them 95 per cent built but can’t quite finish them off.”

Life in road transport for Kelvyn, as is the nature of the business, comes with many highs and lows.

“We’ve had some good times,” he says. “Every week’s different in this game. You can’t go to work Monday morning and say, ‘Oh, we’re going to have a fantastic week this week’. Something will come along and put a spoke in the wheel somewhere. We’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Since the late 1960s to be more exact. There are always challenges and solutions to those challenges that need to be discovered.

MAN, in this instance, have provided a fix Kelvyn hopes will be longer term.

“The only thing I don’t have a solution for is we’re getting old,” he says, “That’s something we can’t stop.”

Send this to a friend