Starting as a single truck and tanker operation, Scott and Regina Harvey have grown SRH Milk Haulage into a major player on Australia’s dairy transport scene. Just last month, the business received the TruckSafe John Kelly Memorial Award, as part of the ATA’s National Trucking Industry Awards.
With an immaculate fleet of 110 tankers and 63 prime movers – mainly Volvo FHs and FMs, with several Kenworths also added into the mix – SRH Milk Haulage transports a whopping three million litres of milk a day, operating across NSW, Victoria and WA.
SRH has been TruckSafe accredited since 1998 and Scott and Regina were extremely honoured to receive the prestigious TruckSafe Award. Usually presented during a glitzy black-tie event, this year the National Trucking Industry Awards were livestreamed as part of the ATA’s first virtual trucking conference.
Scott and Regina ventured into the transport game back in 1996 when they secured a contract with Dairy Farmers (now owned by Lion) – a contract SRH still holds to this day. They ran their business from their family home up until 2001, when they secured a facility in Rutherford, NSW and built their first shed – and that too is still used today. And this seems to be a common thread in the company’s success.
Despite the exponential growth of the business Scott and Regina founded all those years ago, there are many things that haven’t changed at all. People and relationships are among the hallmarks of SRH. Couple this with a modern fleet and a preference for the latest in innovation and safety technology, and you have their recipe for success.
SRH expanded into WA in 2012 after securing a contract out west with Lion, followed by another contract with Brownes Dairy the following year. In 2017, the Victorian operations began when the business scored a contract with Parmalat in the Gippsland region.
The business directly employs around 150 staff, 140 of which are drivers. “All of our staff are permanent. The only casuals we have are those who have worked for us in the past and are now semi-retired,” says SRH Operations Manager Blair Harvey – Scott and Regina’s daughter.
Blair started working in the family business when she was 16 years old. “And I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I love trucks and I loved going in the truck with Dad growing up. Back then it was a big deal for a young girl to be involved in the transport industry. Once I began working with the business, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she says.
Starting her transport career in compliance, Blair moved across to logistics and has worked her way up into her current management role.
When asked about SRH’s success, Blair says a lot of it comes down to its people. “I really think it’s our staff. We don’t have much staff turnover, from the management team through to our drivers, and without them, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today,” she says. “Our Logistics Manager Jim Ridley retired just last month, and he was there with my parents from the beginning.”
SRH replaces its trucks every three years, and Blair says that’s the way it’s always been. “Dad likes the new trucks and we’ve found for us, we’ve never had a problem with them within that period. With regards to maintenance and downtime, replacing equipment regularly has been the best thing for the business. At the moment, we’re doing a trial to run them out to four years to see how that goes.”
Since last year, SRH has been implementing Guardian Seeing Machines in all of its new trucks, with the technology now fitted to about three quarters of the fleet. “At first, our drivers were a little unsure about it, but once we showed drivers the actual footage, they came around. It’s been a real reality check for many of them, who are now starting to recognise their fatigue a lot more now,” Blair says.
In recent years, PBS approved combinations including 20m B-doubles and 26m A-doubles, have also joined the fleet of single and B-double tankers, with all of SRH’s tankers built by Tieman and Byford. “Victoria is Australia’s milk hub, so we run A-doubles there. It’s a lot more work initially to get them up and running, but when you look at the payloads, it’s worth it. We can also get into a lot more places with the A-doubles, so there is definitely a benefit there for us in the long run.”
Despite how much the business has grown over the years, Scott still doesn’t shy away from getting behind the wheel when the opportunity presents itself. Along with Jim retiring, Blair has also just had a baby and is on maternity leave. This, coupled with COVID-19 restrictions, have resulted in some big changes for the business. Thankfully COVID-19 hasn’t affected the demand or supply of milk, though it has restricted Scott’s ability to be as hands on as he would like. “There have been a lot of changes in recent months, so Dad has been in the office a lot more than usual. He’s very active in the business, so staff always see him around. Even though we’re getting bigger, Dad still likes to pop his head into all of the depots, but that’s become more difficult now with COVID,” says Blair. “Whenever we start a new contract, Dad always goes out and does the runs himself, and goes out with his drivers to make sure things are done the SRH way, so we get consistency across the business. With COVID now, he’s been stuck in NSW, so he hasn’t been able to get things done as quickly as he’d like to. It hasn’t affected loads, but it’s more in the way we’ve had to deal with different situations.”
Though 2020 has been a challenging year, it’s also been one for Scott and Regina to celebrate. Their recent TruckSafe Award win is credit to the way they run their operation. “Dad joined TruckSafe very early on. Initially it was because he was new to owning his own business. He was an owner operator and then as he started getting bigger, TruckSafe gave him reassurance that he was doing the right thing. Now it’s just become a part of the business. We find having that accreditation and the regular audits are reassurance we’re doing the right thing for our business and for our staff,” says Blair.
“When you look at the TruckSafe member list, there are some amazing companies involved, so winning this award was a real honour and reassures our customers we are doing the right thing by everybody.”
Asked what the future holds for SRH, Blair says, “At the moment, we’re chipping away at the states that we have and looking to expand there. Next year marks our 25th anniversary. Dad likes to have a party whenever he can, so there will probably be a celebration to mark that occasion too and celebrate the achievements of our staff.”