In terms of both geography and trucking applications, there are few more diverse places in Australia than the East Gippsland region of Victoria.
From the southern fall of the Great Dividing Range through to the forests and farmland and down along the southern coast, trucks are employed on haulage ranging from logging to livestock, market freight, linehaul and tippers to name a few.
Servicing and maintaining trucks and transport equipment around the East Gippsland region is the role of East Vic Trucks (EVT), which operates out of an impressive facility in Bairnsdale, with the business also acting as an agent for the Volvo/Mack/UD truck brands.
Heading the EVT team is Mat Van Dam, who took on the operation in 2020 as a means of diversifying his commercial interests, which were at the time centred around his Boss Logging timber harvest and haulage business which had its beginnings in the nearby town of Bruthen.
“There is tri-agreement with Volvo and CMV Truck and Bus, which we took over when we bought the business off Michael and Amy Cashman and signed over the agreement, so we do a lot of their warranty work, and we are the agent here for Mack, UD and Volvo,” he explained.
“Our main partner is CMV in Traralgon and from around Sale and Stratford up we take care of the area to the Vic/NSW border.
“The EVT business fits in well with our logging company and serves two purposes; it diversifies us away from forestry, but it also assists with our forestry equipment maintenance which of course go hand in hand.”
The EVT workshop is well set up to handle all manner of heavy diesel repair and maintenance, tackling everything form engine rebuilds through to general service/maintenance, welding and truck roadworthy inspections.
Currently the operation has 13 technicians, including three apprentices, and runs a heavy breakdown service truck along with three smaller units to provide a 24-hour coverage over a wide area.
“We have a good service manager here in Jamie Cowan, he has come from a background of logging and his parents were the Mack dealers in Bairnsdale back in the day (Cohen and Patterson). He knows his job well – we are lucky to have him,” said Van Dam.
The Mack-Volvo connection runs through into the other half of the Van Dam business, with Boss Logging running a number of Super-Liners and an FH 700 on timber haulage.
Mat Van Dam started out in the timber industry over 30 years ago before taking on contract harvest and haulage work in 2004, and today Boss Logging is a diverse operation.
“We harvest and haul, traditionally with a hardwood background, we did some softwood fire salvage around Bombala after the fires, but we are back doing native hardwood logging again. We have 11 of our own trucks and as many contractors and three harvest crews working, two in NSW and one in Victoria, so we still have a bit going on,” he said.
“You need to keep an eye on everything. We have got some good people in place. Everything is not perfect all the time but that’s the nature of the beast when you are spread out over two states.”
The fleet of trucks is working anywhere from the Central highlands to Gippsland to the NSW Riverina, hauling both hardwood and softwood timber to mills in Benalla, Corryong, Tumut and Eden.
Needless to say, reliable and dependable trucks are a necessity and Van Dam reckons the Macks have been a good investment.
“They work in extreme conditions in very harsh environments. The roads try the trucks out and pretty much they stand up well to some of the conditions they have had to work in. Mack have been good with their back-up and the trucks have been very reliable considering; we have been happy with the trucks.”
With East Gippsland home to a wide range of primary and secondary industries there is plenty of requirement for transport and the ancillary services that are required to keep things moving, and Van Dam sees plenty of scope for future growth of the EVT business and the relationship with CMV.
“Trucking might not be as big as it is over the other side of the divide on the Hume, but we still have a lot of movement. It is very busy sometimes and I take my hat off to Jamie and the boys as to how they handle it. He has a big task, but he does it very well. CMV are also very good company to be involved with, even though they are a large company they have small company values,” he said.
‘Service Matters’ is the slogan that is on all the EVT signage and vehicles, and Van Dam concluded with how this simple mantra has helped build and maintain a growing clientele.
“We pride ourselves on service, and I believe that if you provide good service at a fair price your business will keep coming back. Sometimes you do not always get it right, that’s human nature.
“There’s always a challenge or two but that comes with the territory but it’s always nice to see our regular customers and we get to deal with a lot of good people.”