Nestling in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, the Melbourne suburb of Bayswater is benefiting from – or becoming a victim of – the unceasing urban sprawl creeping ever closer to the once impenetrable rainforest. Not so long ago, the area was a distant drive from a decent freeway, but with the addition of the fast-flowing EastLink toll road, Bayswater is now conveniently located and plugged into the ring road hub.
In 1974, such metalled superhighway interchanges were far from the mind of a young Glen Cameron setting up his fledgling taxi truck business. But as he has developed the enterprise into a successful multi-discipline national logistics operator, devoted to servicing the needs of a multitude of customers around the country – some exceptionally high profile – he has never moved away from the determination to provide the best possible service.
“We pride ourselves on delivering a level of service our competition can’t offer,” he says. “It’s simple, really. We take responsibility for our actions and do what we say do. That kind of accountability has an enormous power if you live and breathe it consistently,” he says – referring back to the company’s humble beginning in a summer night almost four decades ago.
Back then, British company Mitchell Cotts laid off young Glen Cameron just before Christmas, bringing his career to a sudden stop. Raised in an environment dedicated to the transport industry, Glen, then aged 22, didn’t wait a day to bounce back and established a ‘taxi truck’ company supplying the Melbourne metropolitan area.
“I had a choice – to give or to keep going, so I decided to use what I’ve learned and try to make a difference,” he says. “In the beginning, our fleet consisted of one eight-tonne tray owned by a sub-contractor, and the main method of communication was an old, red phone box just down the road from the first depot in Bayswater, Victoria.”
Inspired by his father Ed Cameron, an acclaimed pioneer of Australia’s commercial road transport industry and importer of the first Kenworth trucks into Australia, Glen went to great lengths to make the start-up grow, utilising the experience gained in the old family-owned company. “I worked for Dad’s company since I left school in 1970, so I knew the business,” he says. “The company, at that time, was an interstate line haul business, predominantly supplying the area up along the eastern seaboard. While I went into a different line of work – metropolitan trucking – the basics were very much the same – look after your people and use safe equipment.” Ever since, success proved Cameron Jr. right.
The turnover for the opening year was in the vicinity of $160,000. Today, the business runs 850 trucks spec’d with the latest in safety technology, as well as a new ERP system that will roll out from now until the end of 2017. “We've made a significant investment into the new system which we think will put us out in front of the industry in terms of real-time data collection,” he adds.
The company now also employs more than 600 staff and 400 sub-contractors – including the very first sub-contractor he hired 42 years ago. Glen himself, however, is still just as involved in the business as he’s ever been, with his layoff still fresh in mind today. “We want to provide quality services at a reasonable price and excellent customer service – and to do so, we need to look after our most valued asset, our people. If we have their collective back, they will have ours.”
Due to that unique commitment to growing people and fostering a culture of safety, Glen was voted the trucking industry’s ‘personality of the year’ at the 2015 Australian Freight Industry Awards. To him, however, it’s not about the glamour. “The trucking industry has given me a lot, so all I do is try to give back. As long as we can make a difference for our people, everything else will fall into place.”