As much as it is known for slim profit margins and intense competition, Australia’s food and beverage industry also has a reputation for setting some of the strictest health and safety standards in the world – challenging transport businesses to operate both efficiently and with the utmost professionalism.
South Australian family business, Adelaide Refrigerated, has made a name for itself by not just adhering to, but actively trying to lift these standards to a new level. Owned by husband and wife team, Kelvin and Anthea Armistead, it can draw on a rich history in road transport, with Kel having worked as a truck driver just like his father before him and Anthea stemming from a trucking family herself.
Together, they started out operating from a 26-acre farm near Murray Bridge before relocating to Adelaide in 2007-08 as their business slowly grew in size. The couple decided early on that they would concentrate on refrigerated transport, as there seemed to be more work available in that segment and they preferred to be a successful niche operator than “being stuck” in the competitive grind of general freight.
With the pledge to refrigerated transport also came a commitment to the highest possible operating standards, says Kel, explaining that in addition to first-class equipment and great staff, the two key principles for success in his chosen industry are temperature control – the company specs Carrier Vector 1950 units for much of its 42 trailers fleet – and hygeine.
In line with that, cleanliness is of the utmost importance for the Adelaide Refrigerated business, with Anthea saying dirty trailer interiors are “just not acceptable”. The on-site wash bay is therefore permanently staffed by two hygiene experts who ensure that the trailers are perfect inside and out.
“I’ve always wanted to do things by the book,” Kel says. “It may cost extra but it always pays off. It’s important to have the records we need such as safe driving plans, log books and satellite tracking to ensure our drivers are consistently doing the right thing and that our clients’ goods are delivered on time and in perfect condition.”
Word about Kel’s commitment to “doing business the right way” quickly spread and spurred further growth.
A key customer group are seafood suppliers along the South Australian coast delivering products such as oysters; but the company’s net is widening constantly and now sees it cart pastries from bakeries in the Barossa Valley and gourmet meats and apples from the Adelaide Hills.
As it grows, Adelaide Refrigerated is constantly re-setting the benchmark in the local refrigerated transport scene. “With reliable, fit-for-purpose equipment handled by reliable people and the right processes in place, there can be growth opportunities even in the most complex of industries,” he says. “The only limiting factor is yourself.”