Merger just the tip of the iceberg for Adelaide fleet

Just over 12 months since two Adelaide transport operators merged, the company’s general manager says the future is looking bright.

In October 2021, Eades Transport purchased Adelaide Refrigerated, merging the two refrigerated businesses to form AR Logistics.

“The customer profiles were very similar, the legs were very similar, so there was a lot of parity and synergy in there,” explained AR Logistics general manager Taiira ‘Moz’ Rivers. He joined the business about six months ago, having previously worked as state manager at Visy Logistics.

“They were looking at some of the same customers. Eades took one of the major customers from Adelaide Refrigerated, so they were basically fishing from the same pond.”

Through the merger, two depots were closed, and the company now runs out of its facilities in Adelaide and Sydney. It provides refrigerated transport services between Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

“We’ve got really wide coverage and the market is only growing. Two of the depots were closed because of the scale of the business, with the Eades depot being leased out now, but the scale of operations has grown four times larger,” explained Rivers.

But despite not retaining all of the depots, he says job losses were minimal. “There were job duplications across both businesses, but that applied to less than half a dozen employees. Many staff were retained, some didn’t like the change. There’s changed management, changed structuring and we’re purchasing a new fleet.”

Prior to the acquisition, Eades ran a fleet of approximately 25 trucks and 40 trailers. After joining forces with Adelaide Refrigerated, the newly formed AR Logistics business now runs 60 trucks and 150 trailers.

AR Logistics recently put 20 prime movers under the hammer with Ritchie Bros., as it works to modernise the fleet. Those that were sold ranged from 1988 to 2021 model Kenworths, DAFs, Scanias, Volvos and Macks.They will be replaced with 15 V8 Scanias.

“We’re going into a different business model. There was the maintenance of the older fleet and there’s driver attraction as well. They all had manual gearboxes but there’s drivers these days that don’t want to drive a manual anymore,” said Rivers.

“The model will probably adopt a similar operational model to what Europe is doing with their contractors. Australia hasn’t really taken that up yet. We’ve started that process now. Drivers are always the issue – it’s not just attracting drivers, it’s attracting quality drivers who are willing to train and take on new technology.”

That includes adopting Guardian Seeing Machines across the entire fleet and plans to move across to electronic work diaries.

Despite some hiccups following the merger, according to Rivers, “the future of the business is enormous.”

He said, “We’re having to turn work away at the moment. Getting the right staff has been difficult but I’m recruiting outside of the transport sector. We now have a registered nurse, a plumber, someone who came from a management role in McDonalds. All things can be learnt if you have a willingness to learn. But transport isn’t just a willingness, it’s an attitude.

“There’s been organisational change. Flattening out our systems is working and our staff love coming to work. I’m really optimistic with where we’re going and with the market. I’ve employed financial analysts too, so we’re restructuring and breaking down every aspect and component of our business.”

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