From humble beginnings in 1979, Killen Transport has grown quickly in recent years, with the latest truck purchases bringing the fleet up to 40.
Now owned and operated by Jay Killen, the business was started by his father with just one International truck.
The second generation family business continues to go from strength to strength.
In 2015, the business moved its whole operation from Victoria into NSW when its main client, Mars, relocated their factory that same year.
“We do probably 70-80 per cent of our work with Mars and the week after we moved up there, the bloke who was running the local transport operation shut down, so we took over the lot. We had to scale up pretty quickly and recruit drivers locally, and we went from seven trucks to 14 in a month,” said Jay.
Today the fleet sits at 40. The most recent additions were three Mack Anthems.
Specialists in transporting meat by-products, Killen range from Adelaide to Melbourne and up to Sydney, supplying the materials for pet food and fertilisers.
“This business is very dynamic, and there’s no shortage of opportunities out there,” said Jay. “My dad always used to say ‘You’re on wheels son, you can go anywhere,’ and that’s a motto I’ve taken to heart.”
The new Mack Anthems were chosen to haul refrigerated single and B-double trailers from Bendigo to Sydney. They’re the ideal fit for Killen’s length and fuel economy requirements.
“We have to fit into 26 metres and with the refrigeration unit, the Super-Liner is just a bit too long. VGA proposed a cab-over, but I wanted a bonneted truck, so we gave the Anthems a go and we’re very happy with them,” said Jay.
The Anthems join a mixed fleet that also features four Mack Super-Liners and a Trident.
“Andrew Thompson, the local CMV dealer, came over a few years ago to demo a Super-Liner for us. It was a super-heavy rig set up for road trains, but I got in it and had a go, and when they looked at the telematics I’d got an all-time high score for fuel economy of 98.99 per cent. When we saw those fuel figures we bought our first Super-Liner, and then three more in quick succession.”
This fuel-efficiency was reinforced on a recent road trip Jay took with Andrew.
“On the highway we passed one of our Anthem B-doubles heading for Sydney. I wondered aloud what its fuel economy was like, so Andrew looked it up right there on his phone, and that truck was getting 2.73 kilometres to the litre. That’s phenomenal.”
Along with fuel economy, reliability was also important – and Jay’s experience with his Trident reinforced that Mack was the perfect fit when adding to the fleet.
“The Trident we’ve got has done half a million clicks going to Adelaide two or three times a week and we’ve never even put a spanner on it. It’s a dream truck, the driver basically lives in it, and the bones on the Anthem are the same.”
Jay says his drivers enjoy the ease of driving the Anthem with the mDRIVE automated manual gearbox.
“Our younger drivers haven’t been brought up on a Road Ranger manual transmission, so they find the automatic far easier. Really, it’s like driving a car and pulling that off in a heavy vehicle is quite an achievement. At first I wondered whether the Anthem’s 535hp engine would have enough pulling power, but Mack have got it fine-tuned with the mDRIVE and it works beautifully.”
Vice president of Mack Trucks Australia, Tom Chapman, said the Mack Anthem was far exceeding expectations across a range of industries, particularly for businesses focussed on improving fuel and running costs.
“Since its launch in 2021, there’s been no shortage of fantastic feedback on the Anthem. Driveability, comfort and fuel-efficiency are the consistent stand outs, making it a favourable choice in the B-double and general freight application,” he explained.
“The Anthem delivers a new era of technological advancement, combined with the inherent durability our trucks are renowned for. We’re thrilled to see it delivering value to our customers.”
With the Macks ticking the boxes for Killen Trucking, there may be more of them on the horizon. With the recent collapse of some competitors in the refrigerated space, Jay sees plenty of opportunities and has just ordered a fourth Anthem to handle the run to Melbourne.