Alliances help DWT keep big-name competitors at bay

By: Ricky French

Forming an alliance with other small transporters allows Dean Wilson Transport to provide a service the multinationals can’t match.

Alliances help DWT keep big-name competitors at bay
Dean Wilson’s commitment to providing a regular service to a notoriously difficult area keeps customers happy.


Remote trucking has always been a tough gig. And in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia no one knows more about how tough it is than Dean Wilson of Dean Wilson Transport (DWT).

He operates six prime movers, as well as a bevy of smaller workhorses, out of Broome. Having a freezer chiller, a tautliner and a flat top means DWT can cart just about anything, but it doesn't necessarily mean it can be unloaded at the other end.

The communities DWT serve often have only the most basic of facilities, making it a challenge to unload freight, while the wet season makes budgeting hard when the whole of the Kimberley shuts down, roads close and nothing moves.  

Coping with the extreme heat is another constant issue.

"The ambient temperature outside is 40C, and it’s 60C on the road. The fridges have to cope with that, too. It all means the trucks have to work harder, they use more fuel; everything struggles, just like us," Wilson says.

But it is Wilson’s commitment to provide a regular service to a notoriously difficult area that keeps customers happy.

DWT runs a twice-weekly service from Broome to Kununurra, along the Great Northern Highway, meaning customers in small townships such as Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek have a next-day or two-day service.

"Our customers know they can trust us," Wilson says.

"We go every week, regardless of whether we’ve got half a trailer or a full trailer."

Wilson says customers are more fickle than ever, though, and will often go with the cheapest option first.

DWT is currently doing battle with Toll to protect its market share on the Dampier Peninsula, just north of Broome.

"The big guys can afford to undercut us and make a loss, knowing that they’re big enough to make it up in other areas," he says.

"But at the end of the day the customers lose out because the service is rubbish. Generally they [the big guys] leave us alone because they understand how hard the trucking industry is up here and they don’t want the headaches," Wilson says.

Forming an alliance with other smaller companies in the north has allowed DWT to provide a service the multinationals can’t match.

DWT has linked up with the family-run McLean Enterprises in Darwin and respects the patch of their neighbours, Derby Stock Supplies, allowing the three companies to work together to keep each other profitable and keep the big players away.

"Derby Stock Supplies do the bush stuff, they go up the Gibb River Road and do an incredible job for the people in those communities," Wilson says.

It’s a similar story in the top end, where Darwin-based McLean Enterprises do the Darwin to Kununurra run, which works well for DWT, which picks up any freight heading south, in some instances swapping trailers with the McLean truck in Kununurra.

DWT takes care of the Broome to Derby run, dropping off freight for Derby Stock Supplies for it to distribute up the dirt roads to far-flung communities such as Kalumburu.

The alliance means the companies ensure Kimberley customers get the service they deserve and that logistics are streamlined, meaning the network is efficient and profitable.

Read the full story on Dean Wilson Transport and the unique operating conditions it faces in the January edition of ATN, out now.

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