Ireland Bulk Haulage: Doing it right
- Posted on Friday 2nd, September 2016
Husband and wife team Rob and Sam Ireland have turned negatives into positives while building their specialist bulk transport business in the NSW Hunter Valley.
Robert Ireland always wanted to be a truck driver, and during his 27-year career in the transport industry, he has worked for a number of large and small transport businesses in the Hunter Valley region to live his dream. But it was a workplace accident that made him realise that there was even more he could achieve in his industry of choice.
It was the failure of a valve on a loading gantry at a fuel terminal that seriously injured Rob’s arm around 2010. He had to undergo surgery, followed by a long period of rehabilitation in relation to the nerve damage he suffered. The injury took Rob off the road and back into the office for about a year, where he realised his talent for logistics would take him a lot further than just driving.
As a result, he went on to obtain his own truck and dog trailer and set up his own business – initially with a couple of partners, but eventually on his own. “There was nothing wrong with the partnership – they were good guys,” he says today. “I just wanted to be the master of my own destiny.”
Due to his many connections in the industry, Rob managed to get plenty of work with his first Kenworth T600 – including a contract with AbiGroup during the construction of the Hunter Expressway. Robert’s logistical abilities saw his own rig complemented by up to 17 sub-contractors on the highway job, promoting his brand enough to generate additional growth opportunities beyond the project. To cater to the spike in demand, Rob and his wife Sam formed Ireland Bulk Haulage (IBH) in 2012.
Rob says that the transport of agricultural products can be as seasonal and as weather-affected as working in the quarry and construction domains, so he ensures that there is a constant balance of sources of work to keep the trucks busy. “Bulk haulage can involve grains, proteins, fertilisers, mill runs, sand, coal and gravel – just to make sure weather won’t bring everything to a standstill. It’s been a conscious decision to have that balance so that the business is operating at peak efficiency when others may be slowing down,” he says.
Rob acknowledges that when he was younger, he used to chop and change jobs to get a range of experience in different aspects of the transport industry. The sum of those varied experiences – including the not-so-good ones, the injuries and the inevitable set-backs life has in store for all of us – led to the creation of a successful business that is almost immune to seasonality due to smart management.