Trailer Magazine

Raising the roof

  • From the December 2019 issue.
Raising the roof

Innisfail Carrying Company was founded by Lance Law with one truck in 1995. With a diverse workload including roof trusses, electricity poles and general freight, the company relies on Palfinger cranes to get the job done.

From humble beginnings as a one man, one truck scenario nearly 25 years ago, Innisfail Carrying Company, along with sister operations Cairns Carrying Company and Townsville Carrying Company, has grown to become a major transport player in the far north Queensland region.

Having grown up on a sugarcane farm, Lance Law was no stranger to trucks and machinery when he bought an old 1978 model Hino tray truck and started a general haulage operation that initially involved carting beer from Cairns to Innisfail. Trouble was, the beer work didn’t pay too well and, struggling to make a living, Lance started to explore other options.

“I had a friend who owned a timber and truss factory and he offered me all his work. All I had to do was buy a truck with a crane and I soon found a second-hand unit with an 8.5-metre tray.”

Lance goes on to say that back in the ‘90s regulations on oversize loads were far less stringent than today, and he was able to get a special permit to carry long loads with a three-metre rear overhang. This meant he could carry 15-metre trusses on the 8.5-metre tray with around three metres overhang at each end.

This worked well for a few years until the local police told Lance they could no longer give him the oversize permit for his body truck due to new Department of Transport regulations. This was the catalyst for Lance to buy his first semi-trailer complete with a Palfinger crane mounted on the prime mover chassis.

From here the business experienced exponential growth, leading to the purchase of more body trucks and semi-trailers, many fitted with Palfinger cranes. Today there are 37 trucks in the business which operates from depots at Innisfail, Townsville and Cairns. The diverse range of freight tasks includes general freight including fertiliser and watermelons, oversize loads, steel, containers and semi crane trucks.

“The crane trucks put me on my feet and the Palfinger cranes were a big part of that,” Lance declares. “They’re a bloody good crane – they’re reliable and the service is second to none.”

In total, Lance has 13 Palfinger cranes mounted on a range of vehicles from body trucks to prime movers. The smaller units including the PK9001-EH model are fitted to body trucks assigned to carting steel for ARC and OneSteel while the larger PK33002-EH prime mover-mounted cranes are used to lift power poles and line goods on and off the semi-trailers for Ergon Energy. In addition, Lance has a number of Palfingers in the mid-range PK22002-EH and PK23002-SH size bracket that are used for general carrying work including roof trusses, timber and the like.

Asked his reasoning for choosing to start buying Palfinger cranes all those years ago, Lance says nearly everyone he asked at the time said Palfinger was the one to go with.

“I come from a primary producing background, my mother owned a cane farm, so I obviously knew about farming machinery but I didn’t know jack about cranes. So I started asking people I knew who were using cranes and the general consensus was that Palfinger was the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the truck mounted cranes. So that’s where it all started – I bought my first Palfinger back in 1996 and have bought many more over the ensuing years.”

When it comes to the trucks, Lance operates a mixed fleet including Kenworth, Western Star, DAF, Mack and Isuzu. He says he generally keeps his trucks for between 10 and 15 years, depending on the application, and he usually buys trucks that are around four years old because with most of his work the trucks don’t do enough mileage to warrant buying them new.

To keep them maintained and operating efficiently, Lance has a workshop in Innisfail and is fortunate to have employed a young mechanic he describes as “unbelievable” in terms of his abilities.

“He’s only 26 but he lives and breathes engines and trucks. He’s one of those people who once he finds something out he remembers it for good – he’s like a sponge.”

Lance goes on to lament what he describes as a chronic shortage of skilled tradespeople including mechanics and truck drivers in Australia.
“We struggle to get good truck drivers and we struggle to get good mechanics – it’s a massive problem in the industry.”

For Lance Law, the best way to counteract these issues is to use equipment that is reliable and doesn’t let him down. That’s the reasoning behind his decision to exclusively use Palfinger cranes throughout his operation.

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