Rock Solid

Central Queensland-based Tandy Group is a diversified concrete and raw material business with multiple revenue streams including a transport division which is integral to its operations.
UD Quon truck and dog.

Established in 1968, Tandy Group, a Central Queensland-based company that moves sands, aggregates, agricultural lime, and concrete, as a finished product, runs a fleet of 45 company trucks.

The business has a strong presence in the Central Queensland region with sites across Rockhampton, Airlie Beach, Marian and Yeppoon.

Its concrete operations cater to all three of the commercial, industrial and residential market segments. In addition, there is a raw material division known as Mackay Sand and Gravel Sales.

To support this interest, Tandy Group operates a quarry in Mackay and a number of separate sand plants notably in Bowen, the Pioneer Valley and Rockhampton.

Kennedy Creek Lime is another sub-vertical in which the company mines and processes lime for agricultural and aquaculture purposes as well as animal food supplements.

Then there’s a bulk potable water business, Clark Drinking Water, for both domestic and commercial usage, which relies on three truck and dog water tankers.

That is further complemented by a business called Queensland Poly Products. It produces waffle pods, a lightweight expanded polystyrene under-slab solution.

“We produce the waffle pods and resell the reinforcing steel and then we supply the concrete as a package,” says Mitchell Flor, Tandy Group General Manager.

Tautliners are used for the waffle pods, low loaders for transporting the earthmoving gear between sites, flat tops to cart reinforcing steel and there’s a B-double cement tanker.

However, the majority of equipment is represented by a total of 32 agitators and six truck and dog tippers.

The aforesaid truck and dog water trucks are augmented with semi-tankers for the potable water business.

UD Quon 8-litre agitator spec.

They range from 12,000 litres for a body truck, 26,000 litres for a truck and trailer and 32,000 litres for a truck and quad. To help complete the broader picture, there’s also several sub-contractors employed on top of this.

The fleet is mainly mixed with vehicles from the majority of the major OEMs. In recent years, the UD marque has become an increasing sight within the fleet.

The nascent partnership with UD started to hit stride in 2020 and Tandy Group have been adding UDs in increments ever since. They are currently up to 11 units.

“We started buying a number of UDs over the last four years, mostly the Quon in an agitator spec, prime mover spec and truck and dog spec,” says Mitchell.

“Previously, our experience with the UD product had been good and that was one of the primary reasons we took it on again.”

Prior to 2020, Mitchell says some older 445hp UD 206s had acquitted themselves well as “good honest trucks” in a truck and dog application.

“UD were pretty good with their supply chain particularly through the COVID period,” recalls Mitchell. “They were actually able to trickle trucks through to us during that turbulent time and we were quite grateful for that.”

The latest generation of UD Quon specs up well with the various needs of the Tandy Group core interests.

In March, they accepted delivery of two new UD Quon 8x4s. Before Christmas they introduced an 8-litre Quon with Escot AMT that was a showpiece at the Brisbane Truck Show. It’s working as an agitator unit out of Rockhampton.

Rex Saywell, Tandy Group Fleet Manager is impressed by the performance of the newest UDs in the fleet.

“The power on offer is exceptional and they all have AMTs in them which is a major plus,” he says. “They’re probably quieter inside than a car and they’ve been accepted pretty well here.”

The layout of the dash, he notes, is user-friendly and reduces the distraction of operating the vehicle unlike some other brands.

“There’s enough warning lights but not too many gauges that our drivers aren’t forced to look at it every five minutes,” says Rex.

“You can actually read all the gauges and all the switches while you’re driving. If you wear reading glasses in some of the other trucks you have to put them on to find out where the wiper switch is and where the air conditioner control is.”

He adds, “The Quon makes these things easy to read.”

UD Quon truck and dog in Mackay.

Drivers have more than enough room to store clothes, a lunchbox, a large backpack or a fridge. While the comfort and vision from inside the cab meet Tandy’s high operating standard, the Quons leave in no doubt, they are engineered with the task in mind.

“Because they’re a short truck they have a good turning circle and that makes them very accessible at a concrete plant,” says Rex.

“One of the things we’ve found from the drivers is they’re easy to get in and out of. Which is important in agitator work because they’re in and out of them regularly.”

It’s not all repeated hours between job sites and concrete batch plants. Some of the truck and dogs are pushed great distances on highway.

The trip to Emerald is four hours each way. In Emerald they pick up exposed aggregate.

Some of the lime deliveries also involve covering hundreds of kilometres.

The trucks will also cart product to mines. Calcium bentonite clay is often used to rehabilitate mine sites at the end of their life cycle.

It’s considered a soil ameliorant for the reclamation of land and is used in agriculture and aquaculture for PH adjustment.

Tandy Group have undertaken several recent upgrades across its existing assets. One of its hard rock quarries has just transitioned from a mobile crushing operation to a fixed plant.

That arose according to an ongoing capital expenditure blueprint.

“We were out of capacity with our current equipment, and we determined that by all the calculations it was a massive reduction in our fuel burn,” explains Mitchell.

“That was the primary purpose behind that strategic move, but it saw increases to production as well.”

The batch plant at Airlie Beach was also upgraded. These sizeable investments were prompted in part by the necessity for expansion but also a replacement schedule for older equipment.

“It’s a real reset at the moment to make sure we’re operating efficiently. Business has changed over the last few years in relation to supply chains and different challenges facing industry,” continues Mitchell.

“We’re putting the microscope over everything to ensure that we are operating effectively.”

Tandy Group is now running a couple of hybrid excavators given the improvement they offer in diesel usage.

The reduction in fuel burn, per tonne of material, is significant according to Mitchell.

“We’re always looking for efficiencies because that is part of being in business,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons we did the upgrade.”

Late model trucks also fall under this category. Associated additional costs when it comes to some of the emissions standards such as AdBlue and DPFs are considered a necessary part of life.

Having trucks with the latest technology and safest emissions are at the forefront of the decision-making tree for Mitchell.

“For us it’s a continuous improvement process and that flows through to people as well,” he says.

“People get more satisfaction operating something late model given the added reliability. All those aspects are part of running a productive business nowadays. We’re looking for the most effective, efficient method of business. At the end of the day, it’s about your customer. As long as you’re supporting your customer and what their requirements are that’s what keeps you in business.”

One of the 32,000-litre potable water combinations turns into the depot.

The widespread adoption of the automated manual transmission can’t be overstated according to Mitchell, who believes it represents a major development in the heavy vehicle industry and one that has helped it secure new drivers but not at the expense of experienced operators.

On the whole utilisation of the truck fleet is measured at around 95 per cent.

That can vary given the external factors at play in the environments they primarily operate in.

In North Queensland, for instance, wet seasons early in the year can be problematic for vehicle deployments.

“Generally, the wheels are turning,” says Mitchell.

“We have a motto: ‘we aim to be first choice’ as our vision and that’s what we strive to do as an organisation from the executive right through to the front line.”

Western Truck Group, with its strong regional Queensland presence, supplies Tandy Group with its UD, Mack and Volvo product. Its acquisition in 2021 of Crokers Truck Centre in Mackay certainly helped to strengthen the partnership.

“They cover most of our geographic now which is good from our perspective because you’ve got consistency in the people you’re dealing with,” says Mitchell.

“Western Truck Group really supported us through some of the supply chain challenges which is a credit to their culture. Head office started in regional Toowoomba, and we are regionally based. There’s a lot of compatibility with their culture as well.”

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