To mark the 75th anniversary of the iconic Freighter badge in Australia, we caught up with one of the brand’s most loyal supporters, Ross Transport in Port Kembla, to find out why the trailers have been such an integral part of their business over the years.
Port Kembla-based Ross Transport is in its 46th year of operation. It was founded in the 70s by MD Alan Ross’s parents Reg and Frances Ross who bought their first Freighter trailer in 1977.
Alan, who was 14 years old at the time, remembers painting the trailer himself.
“My dad bought it without wheels and tyres, and it was unpainted to keep the cost down. I painted it for us, and we fitted our own wheels and tyres,” recalls Alan.
“We got our first few trailers that way. Forty years on, I’m still buying from Freighter. It’s a relationship that has stood the test of time and I can’t see myself ever going to any other brand for Flat Top and Tautliner trailers.”
“Once my dad left the business in 1988, I took over and we went from 10 trucks to now having a fleet of over 120 trucks and trailers. The plan was ‘50 at 50’, and I made that goal and here I am not 60 yet and we have well over 65 trailers. Close to 95 per cent of my trailers including flat tops and tautliners are from Freighter.”
Alan considers himself very fortunate to have three generations of the family working in the business.
Frances, who turns 80 this year, still comes in to do the mail and a few other things around the office.
His daughter, True Ross, joined the business seven years ago when she was still at uni and now she is helping Alan manage the business.
“I didn’t think True would take to transport but she hasn’t looked back since she first started. She’s a current board member of Transport Women of Australia Limited.”
Ross Transport operates an interstate fleet, carting steel on flat tops running between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, in addition to other freight including timber, building materials, grain and fertiliser.
“I appreciate that Freighter trailers are Australian-made. I have seen imported trailers and they just don’t compare with Freighter trailers. We have tried other brands of trailers as well but some issues with those made us come back to Freighter.
“Honestly, I’ve had very limited trailers built anywhere else, all our new trailers are from Freighter. I sold a 1995 model trailer the other day and it was still like a brand new trailer except for maybe a bit of paint work,” said Alan.
“Even today they continue to have the original characteristics of the trailers that were produced in 1977. I feel they still are the best-looking trailers on the road. They stand out from the rest and have their own identity as a Freighter trailer.
“Freighter was the first one to come with aluminium floors which made the floors tougher for carting steel. While Freighter trailers do run on a production line, I feel their production line is very diverse to tailor to custom built trailers.
“We have had many custom specifications over the years – from lighting, to toolbox design and placement, timber racks, aluminium floors and unique paint work. The paint job they do is excellent; their sandblasting and painting techniques are best in the market. I feel there’s only so much you can do on a trailer but Freighter has everything covered and still has a practical cost to it.
“We have been buying from Freighter since they used to have sub-dealers in Sydney. Now they sell under their brand banner MaxiTRANS and the customer service and sales experience is just as excellent.”