Hard day's night for regional transporter

It’s been a long road to recovery for a family-run transport service in NSW following the global financial crisis

By Ruza Zivkusic | December 1, 2010

It’s been a long road to recovery for a family-run transport service in NSW following the global financial crisis.

When many businesses felt the pinch of the global economy’s downturn, Days Transport Service had already been hit hard by the drought, having sold half
its fleet two years ago.

But things are looking a lot brighter now thanks to the recent rainfall, Craig Day, whose parents Brian and Marilyn own the company, says.

The transport and logistics provider was formed by Day’s grandfather, Stan, in 1946, who carried freight from the Riverina region to as far as North Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle.

Day, 42, together with his parents, manages the business of eight single and multi-trailers that transport food, but says he would not encourage his kids to join the business.

"I don’t think they deserve to go through what the rest of us have," Day says.

With a dried-up working capital and being unable to turn-over his 17 trucks, Day had to downsize to eight and cut staff five years ago.

His parents, who were due to retire, have to now think of other terms to make it happen as the retirement fund was used to pull the company through the bleak times.

"The initial plan was to sell some items and take the initial cash and keep drawing a payment from the company but that has gone now," Day says.

"The great financial crisis and the drought highly impacted us being unable to buy new gear and devalued our equipment, land and the asset base."

They recently sold their smaller depot of one acre.

"One of the things we really need to address is the guarantee from the government, which guarantees the bank there should be more condition on who they lend to and guarantee they supply capital to the transport industry, we really get nothing in return," he says.

"The regulators need to listen to the industry and the people that are doing the work rather than going employing some consultants."

Day has changed the way he deals with his customers by letting fewer details "slip by" which would affect his businesses, he adds.

"When things were good you’d let things slide and you just can’t afford to do that now," he says.

"Before we used to look more at partnership and that was when things got tough during the financial crisis; we’re not going to make that mistake again."

After saving for his overseas holiday for 10 years, Day and his family finally went two months ago. But it wasn’t easy making it happen, Day adds.

"The business affects my family life, we work seven days a week and I don’t get to see them very often.

"The last few years we had to do more ourselves. It’s sad, for an essential industry, it’s treated like dirt.

"There’s very little appreciation and we’re a soft target; it’s very easy for regulators to do what ever they want to," he says.

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