The regional city of Goulburn in the New South Wales southern tablelands is home to Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage, a major contributor to the employment and the economy of the region.
It is a family run company with an interesting history. John Divall owned a property on the outskirts of the city and developed a small quarry meeting the needs of local businesses through his company Goulburn Sand and Soil. With the changing face of progress on the Hume Highway, his sons Andrew and Michael saw potential opportunities in growing business activities through servicing the requirements of massive road building projects, particularly the Goulburn by-pass.
In 1991, Andrew and Michael commenced Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage, incorporating Goulburn Sand and Soil, and invested heavily in the purchase of equipment and the expansion of the family quarry at Carrick Hill at the side of the Hume between Goulburn and Marulan.
There was an obvious need for a truck to undertake cartage from the quarry and the duo bought a Kenworth L700, interestingly now on display at the Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. Through a commitment to customer service, expansion was rapid and the trucking sector of the Divall business became an increasingly important part of operations.
That first truck to go into service was almost permanently engaged in the haulage of road base for the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority from the quarry to sections of the Goulburn by-pass construction sites. Along with that first truck, a new Caterpillar bulldozer was bought to meet the demand for resources. And like the truck, this piece of equipment is proudly displayed for all to see as it graces the entry to the Divall offices at Carrick Hill.
From strength to strength
As truck numbers increased, a quest for high operational standards became imperitaive, and this has seen the company establish a reputation for impeccable safety practices through vehicle maintenance, driver training, well managed scheduling and close attention to every aspect of its truck operation.
“We are respected for what we do,” says Divall’s Bulk Haulage Transport Manager, Troy Cooke. “We are extremely proud of our reputation as a safe operator and our involvement in TruckSafe and NatRoad, as we go about not only maintaining that reputation but furthering it in every way possible.
“It is really all about concentrating on every aspect of our operations and that includes the little things that contribute to safety for customers, drivers and other road users. It is vital to consider every possible activity we undertake to ensure we remain at the top,” he adds.
Commenting on the little things that make a difference, Troy points out that at the end of each day, the trucks are lined up near the base workshop and should any vehicle require attention, regardless of how big or small, that particular truck is parked in the line facing the other way.
“Some people laugh at this practice but it immediately points out to maintenance staff that something is amiss and needs attending to and it can be rectified. It could be something as simple as a light out but it is a very effective way of ensuring everything is repaired immediately,” Troy says.
Maintenance is very high on the priority list and the well equipped company workshop is committed to ensuring every piece of equipment is in peak operating condition, regardless of its role.
The company is extremely proud of its staff and the manner in which they carry out their duties regardless of position – and the drivers are held in the highest regard.
Divall’s company principal, Jodie Divall explains, “Our drivers do an amazing job. They are the front line of our business and are very professional people dedicated to delivering the best in service for our customers. We are currently putting them all through Certificate III in Transport and Logistics and getting rewards back.
“They are more than truck drivers and acutely aware of customer needs coupled with the highest levels of safety and compliance with all regulations applicable to our business. One example is overloading, this will simply not be tolerated in our operations and if we do happen to receive a fine for being overweight on an axle or axle group, and this is usually the result of load shift, it is immediately challenged as we do our utmost to run legal 100 percent of the time.”
On the subject of overloading, the Divall’s Bulk Haulage headquarters is in close proximity to the Marulan weighbridge and Troy states that one transport operator commented this would work in their favour as the trucks are known and people on the bridge would ‘go easier on them’ should a breach be detected.
“This is far from the case, in fact if anything, they are harder on us because it is known that we are so particular about our operations and strive to be the best,” Troy remarks.
Monitoring the fleet
Entering the company offices, attention is immediately drawn to a screen on the wall detailing the exact location of every vehicle in the fleet, allowing complete control of every truck movement and providing detailed information on every aspect of its operations.
Jodie says, “All vehicles are satellite tracked so we know exactly where every truck is at any time and this has been well accepted by drivers as an integral part of our processes and procedures. They are not scared of change as we implement new ideas, they are aware of the need to be on the front foot all the time and put things into place to maintain our reputation.”
Communication is extremely important and weekly meetings are conducted giving all within the company an opportunity to put their ideas and suggestions across.
“Drivers have as much input into the business as anyone else, actually they take ownership of the company which is something we encourage as it leads to higher standards and levels of service.
“It is important we recognise the role played by their families. We firmly believe the guys are only as good as their wives, so we make sure the whole family is involved which equates to one big family business. We go out of our way to employ people from the local area and this has resulted in a large number of people from families involved including fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews and nieces and even partners across all areas of operation from management down,” Jodie points out.
Training for its 100 employees is an ongoing process within the company and it has produced a DVD for induction that goes outside the norm. It includes information on as many customer sites as possible and is focussed on correct procedures and the highest levels of safety.
“We have also set up geofences on many customer sites in the interest of safety,” says Troy. “Often a driver has to work on his own and this requires a person to log in with the date and time and then log out so we know everything is okay. The system is operated in addition to the GPS tracking system and offers protection and assistance should an accident or incident occur.”
Diversity of operations
While Divall’s Bulk Haulage operates in a mainly localised area, it also extends services to anywhere in New South Wales and in more recent times has entered into the haulage of fertiliser from Victoria meeting customer requirements and valued services.
It also has 35 mobile crushing plants that are utilised throughout NSW and is on call to handle a myriad of tasks for customers, particularly vital in road building across the state.
“Diversity has been the key to our success in many ways and provides services customers require, offering a total package designed to deliver peak efficiency and productivity,” Troy explains.
“Our truck fleet has been specified to meet numerous transport tasks and the fleet includes B-doubles including side tippers, single trailers, 6×4 and 8×4 rigids and dog trailers, floats, tilt trays and water tankers. Management and staff work closely with customers to ensure we are in a position to meet requirements within the required time frame and budget, and should this not be possible other options are discussed and most times a solution found. We are not in the business of making promises we cannot meet.”
The company continues to investigate ways to improve every aspect of its operations, whether it is in the quarry or on the road, and this aim is regarded by all as being of major importance to the continued success of the business.
“We do not try to reinvent the wheel, it is already rolling, rather we look at how we can do things better through every stage of our operations. There is always room for improvement, you cannot be complacent at any time, so we all note where even a slight change to our activities can better our service, safety and efficiency,” Troy explains.
“We have a team acutely aware of the need to keep at the forefront of developing new ideas to achieve this and things can be quickly put into place and initiated. Again this gives our people input and ownership they can be proud of.”
A tour of the Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage site reveals close attention to detail when it comes to safety from the time one enters the gate to departure. Every aspect of person, plant and vehicle movement is monitored and clearly signed with procedures to be strictly adhered to including speed, direction and even stopping areas.
“Safety is vital, no ifs, buts or maybes,” Troy says. “When our people come to work, we want them to go home, when our trucks are on the road, we want them to return without incident and everything is done to ensure this is the case. Everybody works hard to achieve this aim and we have a safety record to be proud of and this will not be compromised.”
Jodie Divall has the last word on safety, pointing out the company became TruckSafe accredited in 1999. “We took some time before deciding to go with TruckSafe but now we are extremely proud of what that has done to our business, we are certainly reaping the benefits. It has contributed greatly to our being respected for what we do in the road transport industry,” she says.
Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage intends to continue to develop new strategies to improve its business across the board and remain a rock solid participant in trucking, earthmoving and plant hire.