It’s hard to believe that Dutt Transport has been around since 1986, given how young and nimble the Kilsyth-based company still comes across today. Despite a long and proud history, Dutt has remained a refreshingly flexible business that is still just as willing to go the extra-mile as it was when it first started off nearly 30 years ago.
With branches in Sydney and Brisbane, complemented by depots in Adelaide and Perth, the company has become a truly national business. What sets it apart is its decision not to compete in the tough general freight market, but to focus on a small niche instead that requires a whole lot of flexibility, expertise and patience.
“We don’t just load pallets on and off and that’s it,” says Managing Director, Peter Davies. “Ninety-five per cent of what we carry is time-critical, fragile freight like shop fittings and fixtures. You have to be extremely flexible to be successful in that market segment, but I believe we have the right set up to meet that challenge.”
The nature of retailing demands means that much of Dutt’s work has to be performed well outside normal business hours. As a result, the company is geared to provide 24-hour service seven days per week, with much of the work carried out at nighttime and on the weekend. To maintain an edge in such a complex and demanding segment of the market and avoid becoming complacent, Dutt relies on modern equipment, a set of clearly defined processes and a young and enthusiastic management team.
Having the right people is especially important in that context, says Peter, as the job requires a high level of motivation and flexibility. The managers in Sydney and Brisbane are both under 35 years of age, and most of the people in operations are in their mid 30s as well – an unusual set up for a trucking company and a sign that Dutt is doing things a little differently than the competition.
Historically, Dutt Transport didn’t have to employ sales staff as most of its work was generated through word of mouth, but to boost business in the booming southeast Queensland region, management has recently moved to hiring a sales specialist too.
“Regardless of the role, our staff is chosen for their personality and not necessarily for experience,” Peter explains. “They are our frontline staff and represent the business, so we need to make sure they have the right attitude. We can train them and help them grow professionally, but we need the right basis from a mentality point of view.”
According to Peter, that mentality has to be in line with Dutt’s “whatever it takes” approach to doing business. If necessary, the company will even deliver urgent componentry from Melbourne to Perth in a rigid truck with two drivers aboard, for example.
To ensure both loading and driving staff are able to find the right work/ rest balance, Dutt Transport has a three-bedroom apartment located on-site at the Wetherill Park depot in Sydney. A similar service will soon be available at the Erskine Park facility, which is currently under construction. Back in Melbourne, the next stage of the expansion of the Kilsyth site is also underway, with an additional 7,000m2 of warehouse space to come.
On the equipment front, Dutt is equally determined to maintain a high profile. All prime movers and rigids doing high miles are changed over every three years, while rigids covering lower distances are traded in every four or five years.
Dutt Transport exclusively uses Vawdrey trailers in a variety of configurations – including 45-foot curtain-siders and drop decks equipped with mezzanine floors for added flexibility. Air ride suspension is the norm to ensure no damage occurs to fragile shop fittings and electronic componentry. Dutt Transport also uses a Navman GPS fleet management and tracking system to monitor all vehicle movements and provide an accurate estimated time of delivery.
For supermarkets and retail stores, Dutt would transport everything from the whiteboard in the staff lunchroom to the cash register – loads that can range from one to 130m3 at a time. Only recently, the company helped refurbish the more than 500 branches of a national bank, delivering three to 10cm3 of fittings per location – ranging from gondolas to hold the brochures to new “please wait here” signs.
And, given Australia’s on-going love affair with shopping, Dutt Transport’s reputation as a retail expert means that won’t change anytime soon. A newly constructed supermarket requires up to 12 B-double loads per location, for example, and all major supermarket chains have announced additional store openings in 2015-16.