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Peter Stoitse Transport’s final milk run

Peter Stoitse Transport (PST) – the family trucking company that collects 20 per cent of the milk from Victorian farmers is quitting the milk business.

PST Chief Executive Officer, Mike Munday said the company was making good progress to protect its people and the industry by transferring the operations and equipment to McColl’s Transport.

“That is our immediate priority. For half a century, the family has always looked after their people and customers. They want to finish as they started. We hope there will be good news for everyone in time for Christmas,” Munday said.

PST’s public relations liaison, Michael Smith said that McColl’s Transport had agreed to take on most of the PST employees, but were waiting on final confirmation from one supplier.

“There’s still one supplier that hasn’t agreed to switch contracts yet, but we’re hoping that will happen soon,” said Smith.

PST has 276 employees and 94 milk trucks based at Leongatha, Welshpool, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Drouin, Maffra, Albury and Wallace, while the continuing General Freight Division has 20 trucks based at Hallam and Welshpool, which is company headquarters.

Milk is 85 per cent of the company’s business and those staff not redeployed elsewhere will be absorbed by the remaining divisions.

“Stoitse will keep some, because it’s going to continue the general freight and blood divisions,” Smith added.

Peter Stoitse Transport Pty Ltd, formed by Australian Road Transport Hall of Famer Peter Stoitse 51 years ago, collects 1.2 billion litres of milk a year from more than 500 Victorian farmers.

Steven Stoitse, son of the late Peter Stoitse, said it was difficult to walk away from an industry that his family has loved all their lives.

“We are determined to honour Dad’s legacy by doing so with compassion for our people and the industry. McColl’s is being extremely helpful to achieve that result,” said Stoitse.

Munday said the company had been operating under challenging customer contracts, making conditions very difficult in recent years and were unable to invest in new equipment in a highly competitive market.

“Then COVID could not have come at a worse time. The pandemic added $500,000 to annual costs as well as other uncertainties. It became more difficult to recruit drivers,” he said.

“The company has suffered losses for three years. We have been unable to invest in innovation which gradually erodes our competitive position. An orderly withdrawal now is better for farmers and employees than trying to hold on and perhaps coming to a crash landing.”

The company is owned by Norma, her two sons Steven and Terry and daughter Sandra. Seven family members have a total of nearly two centuries experience in the business.

PST will make its last collections on 31 January and hopes to complete agreements for McColl’s to begin collections on 1 February. Almost all the milk processors have agreed to the transfer of contracts.

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