Smooth sailing for family run seafood transporter

Having spent 27 years in warehousing and distribution, Craig Claridge was ready to take the plunge and go out on his own.

“I wanted to work for myself and build a family oriented business so I could give my children and grandchildren the opportunity to work in it if that’s what they wanted to do,” he said.

So he did just that and purchased Total Tasmania Marine (TTM) Logistics Tasmania eight years ago. With depots in Hobart and Melbourne, the business specialises in transporting marine products, including wild-caught fish, oysters and frozen seafood throughout Tasmania, Victoria and NSW. 

Tasmanian seafood is sent across to the mainland by sea in TTM’s own refrigerated trailers – sometimes it’s just the trailer and other times, the prime mover goes along for the ride too.

Craig’s son Rodney Claridge manages TTM’s Melbourne distribution centre in Williamstown.

While Craig, now aged 60, runs the Hobart depot, his son Rodney Claridge heads up the Melbourne site, which is in Williamstown. Rodney has been by his father’s side since day one. Craig’s nephew Nathan King, who works as a truckie, has also been there from the start.

When Craig took over the business, he had just two prime movers and six trailers. But, continuing on a trajectory of growth, he now runs a fleet of nine prime movers, 16 trailers and a selection of smaller vehicles too.

He credits this to growing his customer base and having to add more vehicles to keep up with demand. “I’ve built the business up without having to advertise, it’s grown from word of mouth. We’ve built a good relationship with our existing customers, all of the oyster growers on east coast and the fisherman,” added Craig.

The most recent addition is an MAN TGX 580hp, which is based in Melbourne and joins two other recent purchases, an MAN TGS 540hp and MAN TGX 640hp. It’s been fitted out with additional gear including a Dometic electric cab cooler for driver comfort, which is powered by an independent battery source.

“With Victoria and NSW being the size they are, those trucks have to travel the furthest, so it makes sense to keep the newest trucks over there,” said Craig.

“Within the next 12 months, the plan is to eventually upgrade all of my prime movers, taking the oldest ones offline first and bringing in new ones.

“I don’t like buying second-hand trucks. When you buy second-hand, you are basically buying someone else’s problems. That’s why I’ve chosen to buy brand new equipment.”

The three new MANs are based in Melbourne and are the newest additions to the TTM fleet.

“The TGX 640hp that I took online early November last year has already run around 300,000 kilometres. The other MANs have clocked around 180,000 kilometres and those two have never let me down. That’s why I decided to purchase a third one,” said Craig.

The ease of driveability and manoeuvrability with the MAN 12 speed TipMatic automated manual transmission is something Craig says his drivers have taken a liking to.

“A lot of the older drivers don’t like fully automated gears, but I think it’s better for the drivers given the distances we are driving around. They quickly change their minds after a long trip not feeling fatigued.

“My drivers have found the fully automated gears to be very comfortable, especially when driving in heavy traffic in Sydney and Melbourne.

“The other thing with the MAN is that being a cabover truck, they are a lot easier to get in and out of. Overall, they are ergonomically safer and that is another feature that my drivers like.”

When it comes to servicing, Craig chooses a proactive approach. “All of our prime movers are scheduled for service at earlier intervals than recommended. I’ve been told that that’s too regular but I’m the one paying for oil and filters and I believe oil and filters are a lot cheaper compared to engine rebuilds so I’d rather have them done more regularly.”

Looking ahead, Craig hopes to continue growing TTM. “I want to pretty much maintain the service we currently supply to our customers and keep things going as they have been. We were quite affected with Covid in the early stages, but given the nature of service and the product we carry, we’ve managed to survive that and grow the business further.”

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