Trailer Magazine

Delivering the Deere

  • From the May 2020 issue.
Delivering the Deere

For nearly 40 years, B.J. Matthews has maintained a contract carting farm machinery from the Port of Brisbane to various regional Queensland dealerships. Central to this operation is a trio of O’Phee 45-foot drop deck trailers.

B. J. Matthews Transport was established in 1972 by Brian Matthews, who started the business in a fairly typical manner with a single truck hauling interstate freight.

After doing this for a number of years and gaining a foothold in the industry, Brian began to expand his fleet.

His hard-won reputation for reliable and honest freight services led to him being highly recommended by his clients to other prospective clients.

Brian started servicing the wharf cartage needs of clients back in the mid-1970s. This was the pre-container era when the freight was picked up from a large pile in a shed, sometimes taking a few days to get the total consignment together.

In the very early 1980s, B.J. Matthews Transport started a long and proud association with John Deere farm and industrial equipment, and to this day the company still carts most of the John Deere machinery and all of its container freight from the port of Brisbane.

Toyota Australia is another valued client with which B.J. Matthews Transport has a strong connection, having taken care of the company’s container cartage for the past 15 years.

Today, the company offers standard trailer cartage as well as side loader trailers and a body truck fleet dedicated to less-than-container-load (LCL) haulage as well as all facets of airfreight cartage.

In the broader scheme of things, each of the company’s diverse range of vehicles is equipped to cater for specific aspects of the business including oversize transport, sea and airfreight industries.

Having risen through the ranks over the last 25 years, Brian’s son, Tony Matthews, now steers the company, building on the tradition created by his father.

The company currently employs 22 people across the diverse operation including the long-standing contract with John Deere, general container cartage, side loader movements and a customs bond store which involves the unloading of goods from containers in the company’s warehouse under strict quarantine conditions enforced by Australian Customs.

Turning to the trailing equipment that’s critical to the entire operation, the company owns an O’Phee skel and a 45-foot O’Phee flat-top with twist locks for container cartage and three O’Phee drop-deck trailers for transporting the oversize John Deere agricultural machinery from the Port of Brisbane to regional centres across Queensland.

John Deer dealers in Bundaberg, St George, Goondiwindi, Roma, Chinchilla and Toowoomba are among the regular drop-off points for B.J. Matthews Transport.

A family-owned company established in the late 1980s, O’Phee Trailers’ reputation was built on the values of quality, reliability, service and ethical practices, and has become a trusted name in semi-trailer manufacturing.

The Drake Group acquired O’Phee Trailers in 2015 and has continued to build on the O’Phee reputation for excellence.

The company offers a one-stop-shop from design to final product and continues to search for new and better manufacturing techniques, while investing in new tooling and technology to keep its products at the cutting edge.

It’s a formula that resonates with Tony Matthews, who believes the combination of sound design, outstanding build quality and excellent customer service has produced trailers that are ideal for the company’s applications.

“We have three O’Phee drop deck trailers, one fixed deck and two wideners,” Tony explains. “The new widener we recently purchased ticks all the boxes for us. It has bi-fold ramps and widens to 4.3 metres, which is perfect for the John Deere harvesters with dished out wheels that we transport.”

Tony proceeds to tell the intriguing story about how he came to purchase his first O’Phee drop deck trailer – straight from the O’Phee Trailers stand at the 2009 Brisbane Truck Show. This was the final BTS held at Brisbane’s fabled ‘Ekka’ showgrounds, the event subsequently held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. 

“I put a deposit on it on the Saturday morning and when I came to pick it up Mick O’Phee (then Managing Director of O’Phee Trailers) told me he could have sold it 10 times over, judging by the level of interest from show attendees.”

As the topic of conversation returns to the latest widening drop deck purchased from O’Phee, Tony elaborates on a number of features he appreciates about the latest unit.

“I like the positioning of the key start for the powerpack on the gooseneck– it’s in a really convenient spot and the top ramps are a lot quicker and easier to slide out of their travelling pockets and install compared with the earlier units,” he says.

“The latest 45-foot unit is ideal for rubber-tyred machinery which makes up the bulk of what we transport – it really suits our needs with carting the agricultural equipment.”

Adding to the versatility, the trailer is fitted with twist locks on the lower deck enabling 20-foot containers to be carried.

Tony also explains that the other two O’Phee drop deck trailers in the fleet are fitted with three-way container pins and extension pedestals for the lower deck, allowing the cartage of 40-foot containers.

All up, the O’Phee 45-foot drop deck widening trailers operated by B.J. Matthews Transport are eminently suited to a variety of roles in the company’s repertoire, but most importantly enable the safe and reliable transportation of oversize John Deere farm machinery – a task to which the company has been dedicated for the past four decades.

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