Tipping the Scale

A relative newcomer to the freight-forwarding segment, CRL Express is looking to build its brand as a dynamic mid-tier business “large enough to handle,” as its motto goes, and “small enough to care”.
Krueger curtainsider.

Founder and Managing Director Roy Kazamias endured a few false starts before he got his company, CRL Express, where he wanted it.

That would be, at least for the moment, as an agile and efficient 3PL provider on an imminent growth journey.

The business has officially been trading for a little over a year, although it was registered in 2018, while Roy, who had found demand as a logistics consultant, set about putting the pieces in place, initially as a niche linehaul operation during a time of great upheaval in the industry not typically conducive for launching a transport start-up.

The first delivery for a customer in Newcastle occurred in September 2019. That all ultimately amounted to stalled but real progress.

CRL Express (the first two initials in the name derive from Roy and his father Con, who serves as 3PL Manager) offers door-to-door services, break bulk pallets, accommodates storage, ecommerce and provides niche transportation in dangerous goods shipments and difficult-to-move, fragile or oversize freight that doesn’t fit the purview of a carton or standardised pallet.

This remains an area of targeted growth while the general freight services continue to tick over according to Roy.

“Right now we’re seeing rapid growth,” he says. “While some of that is unexpected, we have real provision to manage and encourage that trajectory.”

Proof of that can be seen in Dandenong South where CRL Express only recently opened a brand-new facility.

The 11,500m2 facility features over 7,000 pallet bays of racking and a 2,500m2 super awning to facilitate all-weather cross-docking and operations. For the next six months Roy will travel between Melbourne and Sydney while that location is brought up to speed.

Speed, after all, is key. It underpins not only the expansion of the services offered but also its mounting portfolio of customers.

In a relatively short space of time the business has attracted major partners including Krueger, TransVirtual, BP, Ampol, CartonCloud and Snap.

Oversized bulk deliveries for the B2B sector have fast become a major income stream for the company particularly in the specialised cargo distribution for bicycles, bathroom vanities and textiles.

“That’s something we are doing a lot of, and we do it well,” says Roy. “No one really wants to handle these items given they can’t be delivered on a skid or a pallet.”

The business also offers express deliveries around Australia in standardised pallets.

“As we grow, in order to find economy of scale and efficiencies within our own network, you’ve got to really stick to what you specialise in,” says Roy. “No longer can you be an all-in-one transport company. I think the market has also changed drastically. There’s a great gap in between your top tier companies like your Tolls and your TNTs and then your mid-tier companies.”

That gap, according to Roy, is why customers are increasingly preferring a more personal service.

“They’re not chasing someone through a call centre in Singapore,” he says. “Their data doesn’t get leaked around the world and the potential threat of cyber security attacks is not a major concern.”

There exists a fine line, at least in the top tier, between transport companies that haven’t sacrificed that personal service on the altar of growth.

“That personal service really comes down to what you specialise in and how you set up the business itself,” Roy says.

CRL Express, at present, employs 35 people directly in addition to using the services of around 80 contractors. It currently oversees 2000 consignments a week.

Delays across the supply chain, which became endemic industry-wide even before the business attempted to grab a foothold, forced its hand and a decision was made to focus on controlling the network and outsource mobile assets, where possible, to third parties.

Roy cites his business is a mix between company assets, owner-drivers, contractors, and agents.

The agency network covers other areas like Perth, Brisbane, and Adelaide, so that CRL Express is represented in all the major cities recognised for freight-forwarding on the eastern seaboard.

“I have a strong belief that if you focus on trucking itself the logistics department falls down,” says Roy.

“You take away attention from logistics. You’re not focusing on how you grow that service. The focus then becomes about replacing contractors with company-owned equipment.”

 

Roy Kazamias, Found and Managing Director CRL Express.
Roy Kazamias, Found and Managing Director CRL Express.

That said, the fleet does currently have five prime movers on order. These consist of four new Kenworth T610s and one Volvo FH540. They will pull either B-double double drop deck or single drop deck mezzanine trailers.

The most prolific application in the fleet is the 4-tonne curtainsider. In locations where access for a standard rigid is prohibitive, they have contractors who pilot smaller vehicles.

These circumstances, however, are the exception rather than the rule.

“We are committed to further enhancing our company’s assets through the procurement of new Kenworth T610 trucks, expected to be ready for operation in 2024 and 2025, complemented by trailers from Krueger and Vawdrey,” explains Roy.

“As part of our strategic fleet management approach, we aim to achieve a fleet ratio of 60 per cent company-owned vehicles and 40 per cent contractor-operated vehicles, aligning with our long-term objectives.”

The more recent investment in modern equipment reflects a renewed dedication to maintaining a robust and reliable fleet. Roy believes the aim of which is to enable CRL Express to deliver superior services to its clients while optimising operational efficiencies.

To strengthen its management structure, the business has recently welcomed a leadership team as it looks to enhance financial capabilities and overall performance.

In support of this move, the company is actively recruiting multiple account managers to reinforce its sales and customer engagement efforts that it anticipates will sustain the ongoing success of the business.

“By expanding our team with qualified professionals, we aim to further improve our services and provide enhanced support to our valued customers,” says Roy. “Our vision is to provide unsurpassed service in the logistics sector and offer our staff members a workplace like no other.”

He adds, “We’re determined to realise that.”

Freightliner Argosy.
Freightliner Argosy.
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