The secret to Region Peak’s success

Walk into Region Peak’s head office in the Melbourne suburb of Somerton, and it is immediately evident this is a company offering that little extra to every client. The attitude exhibited by everyone, from Director Brian Harper down to service staff, is one of passion for what they do, which is offering individual distribution solutions that exceed expectations.

The fleet of Western Star trucks, coupled to custom-made Vawdrey B-Double combinations, the squadron of local distribution vehicles and even the Melbourne depot as a whole are in an immaculate condition.

Wander upstairs into administration, and you are greeted by live images of every depot, the screens revealing exactly what is happening at each location. Hence, it is safe to say that Brian Harper is an operator who is extremely hands-on – not only because he is constantly in contact with his people around the country. What makes him different is the fact he is not one to wear a suit and tie, but work gear as he continually monitors not only what is happening in the Region Peak company, but also at his customer’s facilities.

“I go out in the trucks very often to do pickups and deliveries myself. I get to know the store men but don’t tell them who I am, rather I observe what the requirements of various companies are so we can tailor our activities to suit needs perfectly,” Brian says.

“Doing this allows me to see where we can improve both our and the customer’s efficiencies. As a result we establish firm partnerships with our clientele that allow us to assist streamline all areas of operation and provide the best in distribution.

“On many occasions I have visited those companies and met with management, gone down onto the floor and the store men have realised who I was from a past delivery. I run Region Peak with some surprising results, but in taking that approach to how we run the business we become increasingly better at servicing our customer’s requirements,” he smiles.

Brian and wife Janene founded their transport business with a 1710 International Acco rigid, carting for James Hardie, delivering Spicers Paper products. Gradually the fleet grew to five vehicles when the transport arrangements with that company changed and the couple was advised to form a company. He sought direction in the matter and was offered a list names for the business and one stood out.

“There were a number of possibilities on that list, but Region Peak was decided on because I considered the name summed up what we were all about – covering all regions and always at our peak. It was perfect and then it was a matter of selecting a colour scheme that would be noticed and our grey, pink and white livery was born, albeit in an unusual manner,” Brian tells. Again, the story is somewhat out of the ordinary.

Back then, he was discussing the matter with a sign writer who noticed the Reebok runners Brian was wearing. The colours on the shoes were definitely a stand out and as a result, the familiar koala grey, hot pink and pearl white now adorn all Region Peak vehicles seen on the road.

“It is an immediately recognisable colour scheme. Actually we do not have satellite tracking in any of our vehicles, we really don’t have to as it is usually our customers who tell me where the trucks are at any given time,” Brian laughs. “Obviously we are always in contact with the trucks but it’s nice to know the people we carry for are interested in the trucks we operate and proud to have their goods on board.”

Region Peak operates 19 B-Double units on interstate line haul, 18 of those pulled by Western Star prime movers. All trucks are powered by Detroit Diesel and exclusively pull Vawdrey trailers.

The PUD fleet consists of 26 trucks – 20 Isuzu, four Mitsubishi and two Iveco – all of various sizes to suit the transport task in each state. The company also maintains strong relationships with suppliers including fuel, tyre and wheel alignment providers.

Brian and Janene have undertaken some interesting transport tasks during the growth of the company. At one time they had a strong relationship with one of the largest shelving companies in the country and say they have been involved in the building of every Target store in Australia.

“We provided logistics solutions which involved transporting shelving right across the country. At the time we were using eight tonne rigids towing pig trailers on long distance runs, including runs to Cairns and Perth. We would be responsible for the placement of the shelving and once unloaded, placed the pig trailers on the back of the trucks and went home in order to do it all again.

“At one time we also loaded rail containers in a shed, but the problem was once they were placed on the truck they were higher than the doorway, so we had to let tyres down, drove the truck out and then had Beaurepaires on-hand to re-inflate the tyres and the loads were on their way,” Brian says describing some of the necessary actions required to keep goods moving.

It is this commitment to customers that has seen Region Peak grow from a small operator to the business it is today. According to Brian, companies grow at a rate of between 15 and 20 per cent each year and his company has expanded in a similar manner.

“As companies grow you have to grow with them and have a team of good people able to recognise what is required of them to not only maintain, but grow the service we offer clients to reach successful goals,” he says.

“We don’t quote on work, rather a customer asks us if we can do a job and we always go out of our way to say ‘yes’, we can, and deliver on our promise. People have faith in Region Peak and that has been one of the secrets to our success, it is a matter of doing everything right the first time with a can do attitude.

“For instance, one of our clients is a company producing stainless steel products that we have had for 21 years and over that time have become the preferred carrier for every division of the firm in Australia. They required re-location in a short time frame and asked if we could handle the job, something we completed on time after moving 482 semi-trailer loads between November 16 and December 16.

“We take pride in everything we do and that re-location was a matter of putting equipment into service specifically for them. I tell companies to go out and sell their products and we will look after all of their distribution needs,” Brian states.

But the line haul activities of the business are not only structured around the client, but also around the driver. Fatigue management is at the very top of the safety list and if a driver has to be held over at any time Region Peak ensures that person is at home rather than interstate. Each driver is given as much time at home as possible with all long distance services designed around the person behind the wheel.

“No driver is held anywhere around the country apart from where they live and it is extremely rare for any line haul driver to do a delivery or pickup. Our people are the backbone of the operation and we do everything we can to ensure they are looked after and happy with what they do.

“The trucks, all of our equipment, are meticulously maintained. We have two full time mechanics for all routine repairs and maintenance and other work required sees the trucks go to the dealer,” he says.

Brian’s fleet is powered by Detroit Diesel, with both DD13 and DD15 engines under the bonnet; and every prime mover is as much a part of the couple’s extended family as are the drivers. Today every truck bears the name of a family member, but the initial decision to opt for the Western Star brand leads from the first truck Brian purchased, named ‘In Memory’.

That truck was bought in memory of the late Ted Hamilton, a close friend who passed away. Ted was very much a fan of the Western Star product and was an owner-driver who operated one of the make. When Ted passed on, Brian and Janene bought their first Star – and the rest is history.

“Ted was more than a friend and we bought the first unit in his memory and that started our relationship with the make that has seen us continue to buy and operate the trucks in our fleet. We have had an extremely good run from them and as our business grew, we bought more to meet our B-Double operational needs,” Brian relates.

“The first truck joined us in 2007 and from that time on we have dealt with Western Star. The trucks are very driver friendly, have a great driveline and stand up very well to the Australian road conditions. We operate under a one-driver-one-truck scheme and they take an enormous amount of pride in what they drive. The Vawdrey trailers have also given us exceptional service and we work well with that company to ensure what is on the road suits our needs perfectly. We receive excellent backup service from Western Star, Detroit Diesel and Vawdrey Trailers right across our operations. While the trucks are operated by one driver, the trailers are quick-hitched to meet our scheduling requirements.”

While Brian talks about his company, the phone is rarely silent as he directs attention to operations. He takes pride in the fact customers can call him directly with any query or concern, and he is always in touch with every sector of the business.

“As I said we don’t advertise, all of our successes are based on our reputation. Our sales reps are our con-notes, it’s how we sell the business, and it is all about what you are doing and how you are doing it – and we do the very best for our customers at all times.”

He is also keen to promote the industry as one offering career paths to young people. Region Peak trains from the floor up and all staff have been offered training from day one with the business.

“A driver might come to me seeking employment but it doesn’t matter what experience that person has. The driver will start in a four tonner and grow from there, moving up a larger truck when they exhibit expertise and professionalism. Our people have all been with us for long periods of time and newer employees indicate they look at a long term career with Region Peak Transport,” Brian tells.

“One of the reasons for that is our philosophy. Region Peak offers customers a complete package so they can get on with their business while we look after transport and distribution needs on a very personal basis. We do what we say we will, and if it is something we cannot do we tell people upfront, it’s that simple.”

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