Standing the test of time
On the diamond jubilee year of Freighter manufacturing in Australia, we ask one of its longest standing customers, New South Wales-based Ross Transport MD Alan Ross, to share his thoughts on his 40+ years’ journey with the Freighter brand.
This is Ross Transport’s 46th year of operation. The business was founded by Alan’s parents Reg and Frances Ross in the ‘70s. Reg bought the first Freighter trailer in 1977. Alan, who was 14 years old at the time, remembers painting the trailer himself.
“My dad bought it without wheels and tyres, and it was unpainted to keep the cost down. I painted it for us, and we fitted our own wheels and tyres. We got our first few trailers that way. Forty years on, I’m still buying from Freighter. It’s a relationship that has stood the test of time and I can’t see myself ever going to any other brand for Flat Top and Tautliner trailers,” Alan says.
“We didn’t buy a lot of trailers until the 1980s. Once my dad left the business in 1988, I took over and we went from 10 trucks to now having a fleet of over 120 trucks and trailers. The plan was ‘50 at 50’ and I made that goal and here I am not 60 yet and we have well over 65 trailers. Close to 95 percent of my trailers including Flat Tops and Tautliners are from Freighter.”
Alan considers himself very fortunate to have three generations of the family working in the business. Frances, who turns 80 this year, still comes in to do the mail and a few other things around the office. His daughter, True Ross, joined the business seven years ago when she was still at uni and now she is helping Alan manage the business. “I didn’t think True would take to transport but she hasn’t looked back since she first started. She’s a current board member of Transport Women of Australia Limited. As for me, I love the industry and I’m not planning on going anywhere until the day I die,” Alan says.
Ross Transport operates an interstate fleet, carting steel on flat tops running between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, in addition to other freight including timber, building materials, grain and fertiliser.
“I appreciate that Freighter trailers are Australian-made. I have seen imported trailers and they just don’t compare with Freighter trailers. We have tried other brands of trailers as well but some issues with those made us come back to Freighter. Honestly, I’ve had very limited trailers built anywhere else, all our new trailers are from Freighter. I sold a 1995 model trailer the other day and it was still like a brand new trailer except for maybe a bit of paint work,” Alan says.
“Even today they continue to have the original characteristics of the trailers that were produced in 1977. I feel they still are the best-looking trailers on the road. They stand out from the rest and have their own identity as a Freighter trailer.
“Freighter was the first one to come with aluminium floors which made the floors tougher for carting steel. While Freighter trailers do run on a production line, I feel their production line is very diverse to tailor to custom built trailers. We have had many custom specifications over the years – from lighting, to toolbox design and placement, timber racks, aluminium floors and unique paint work. The paint job they do is excellent; their sandblasting and painting techniques are best in the market. I feel there’s only so much you can do on a trailer but Freighter has everything covered and still has a practical cost to it.”
“We have been buying from Freighter since they used to have sub-dealers in Sydney. Now they sell under their brand banner MaxiTRANS and the customer service and sales experience is just as excellent.
“Over a year ago we did have a problem with a Freighter trailer that upset me greatly at the time. It did become a little bit of an issue at that point but Freighter managed to resolve the issue for me and its water under the bridge now. We were back buying new trailers from them soon and I wouldn’t continue buying from them if they weren’t good people and making a good product.
“We have another new trailer coming in a few months. It is going to be the cleanest truck in Australia. The gentleman who drives it now, Ronny Duncan, has been with me for over 15 years. The truck he drives now with a set of Freighter trailers is the cleanest truck – you cannot find a spec of dirt on his truck but the new one is going to be even better. I’m very excited about it and I’m going to call it ‘Rainbow with a twist’,” Alan says proudly.