Based on a design created by a frustrated engineer and the inability to access small quantities of concrete out of hours, the Concrete Taxi system was first set up in Perth, Western Australia.
Since then it has extended to other areas of Australia including Brisbane and Sydney through the implementation of a franchise system. Concrete Taxi isn’t like a normal agitator truck which delivers concrete in a pre-determined quantity sourced from a batching plant.
The unique concept of Concrete Taxi involves custom mixing of concrete on site using aggregate and water carried on the truck along with the appropriate amount of cement to achieve the concrete strength each client requires.
The Concrete Taxi concept has numerous advantages for smaller jobs involving concrete, including a cost benefit which outweighs the cost of buying bags of cement and gravel, transporting to a job site, and allocating time to mix the concrete.
The alternatives are either mixing, using a small portable mixer or getting a big agitator truck to come to the site. The Concrete Taxi service also eliminates associated problems such as disposal fees and wait times.
A miscalculation in the volume required does not present a problem if it falls short. By this same token, wastage is happily avoided if too much concrete has been mixed.
This leaves tradespeople on site to concentrate on other, productive tasks, more suited to their own skill sets.
A mixer unit attached to the back of truck is a Concrete Taxi proprietary design made in Brisbane to the company’s specifications and drawings and is specifically designed to fit on a Hino 500 Series FC chassis.
Over time, developments in equipment have led to a more optimised service which has resulted in steady growth with 23 trucks at present operating nationally and an additional four new Hinos currently under construction. Concrete Taxi is, currently, seeking more operators for the Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, and Adelaide markets.
“The growth is due to offering our key value propositions to our customers through a strategic market approach, whilst making the service more tailored to our customers as the service becomes more known to tradespeople,” says Jarrod Coleman, Concrete Taxi’s National Marketing Communications Manager.
“Jobs like fences, driveway extensions, patio or shed slabs also increase the property value so doing these smaller jobs around the house goes a long way to adding value.”
Trades and DIY are the two major market categories Concrete Taxi at present aims its service. The split is approximately 60/40 to trades such as carpenters, concreters, plumbers, and pool installers.
“The two markets are very different,” says CEO Paul Cherniakov.
“Tradespeople are very transactional and they like this service because it saves them a lot of time. They can just get the job done for their client and then get out. It’s a convenience thing which saves them time. It’s a major convenience for the DIY sector as well because home renovators don’t want to be doing the whole process themselves.”
Due to the Concrete Taxi operators performing such tasks every day, they can provide advice and expertise as well as assess the job to estimate the quantities required.
“A lot of our operators come from the transport or construction industries, and some from the customer service industry,” says Paul. “Operating our machines is not very difficult from a technical point of view.”
Conventional agitators mix, deliver and pour. Concrete Taxi operators take the time with their customers to explain what they need and allocate time on site inclusive of the price to provide a higher level of customer service.
“More than ever, once people use the Concrete Taxi service, they never ever consider mixing concrete again,” says Jarrod.
“In addition to the time and convenience factors, we allocate specific amounts of time on-site according to the size of the job, which is at no additional cost to our customers. Also, our mix on-site service allows us to mix to our customers’ desired requirements, eliminating the need for disposal fees.”
The trucks are based on the Hino 500 Series FC 1124 model which has a Gross Vehicle Mass of 11-tonnes which suits the application perfectly as it allows the trucks to carry the necessary ingredients to make approximately two cubic metres of concrete, although most of Concrete Taxi’s jobs are less than that.
“This is a perfect model size for us”, says Paul. “We have generally found Hino to be very reliable trucks and have a 2004 model still on the road and a couple of 2006 Hinos and they have given us very few problems over this time.”
The older models are at the moment being replaced with newer versions.
“Keep in mind our trucks operate in very tough conditions and they are generally fully loaded at all times,” explains Paul. “They have to cope with hot conditions, suburban hills and rough worksites, yet they never let us down. I am genuinely very happy with Hino as the choice of chassis.”
Trucks are designed so axle loads are not exceeded. The chassis is shortened at the rear as part of the fitment of the patented mixer unit which is hydraulically operated from a pump driven by the gearbox’s PTO.
Rust is a common problem encountered by conventional concrete agitator trucks, but not with the Concrete Taxi design.
“Our ingredients are dry and we’re not getting water all over the chassis,” says Paul.
As a part of the overall package, franchisees are provided with a fully fitted out vehicle. Ingredients like cement and aggregate are sourced using local businesses such as landscape supply yards.
“Because we don’t operate out of batching plants, we can easily have the products on board our trucks and we fill up each afternoon and have it ready to go the next morning,” says Paul. “It doesn’t go off because it’s dry.”
Brisbane-based franchisee Wayne Andrews moved away from a career as a bricklayer around five years ago.
“I researched everything for three to four months prior to committing to a franchise,” he says, notably impressed with the business model.
“As an owner-driver you can do quite nicely out of it and if we’re on the road all day every day they’re making good money too. Anyone who’s keen can hook in and do quite well out of it, especially if they’re prepared to work extra hours and Saturdays.”
The nation’s building boom means occasionally Concrete Taxi operators are doing bigger jobs because people are desperate to get concrete.
“I can’t see that changing in the near future with the Olympics coming up here,” says Wayne.