Transporting 'the showroom experience'

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

designer transport 1a Moe Zayden designer transport 1a
designer transport 1b Ali Ibrahim designer transport 1b
designer transport 2 All personnel must undergo and pass various levels of training as a condition of their employment. designer transport 2
designer transport 3 Designer Transport unpacks, assembles and cleans goods before entering a property and removes all rubbish once the job’s done. designer transport 3
designer transport 4 From furniture stores, interior designers, property stylists, architects to magazines and photo shoots, Designer Transport has extensive experience in all aspects of the design and interiors world. designer transport 4
designer transport 5 It has three depots on the eastern coast. designer transport 5
designer transport 6 designer transport 6

High-value furniture carrier Designer Transport may be a young team but it’s worth keeping an eye on


The go-to carrier of high-end furniture and bulky items, Designer Transport is a growing company that’s come exceptionally far during its short life.

Moe Zayden established the boutique business in 2008 at the age of 23 together with partner Ali Ibrahim, who was only 20 years at the time, focusing on white-glove delivery of luxurious furniture.

The pair grew the business from one ute to 30 trucks and three depots on the east coast thanks to their remarkable customer service.

With a team of 60 staff, the company prides itself on transporting the "show room" experience, tailoring its service to each client’s needs.

Offering complete or partial third-party logistics solutions to furniture retailers and wholesalers, Designer Transport has evolved into last-mile delivery solutions.

It carries all types of furniture for some 100 customers ranging from Coco Republic, Boyd Blue, Great Dane and a host of interior designers and magazine publications.

With no previous transport experience, Zayden has learnt the ropes by listening to his clients.

"Our philosophy is transporting the show room experience that a client would encounter at someone’s show room and delivering it to their home," Zayden says.

"In theory it’s great but in practice there’s a lot of behind the scenes work to make sure things are getting done correctly and the right image is portrayed; the customer experience and how they feel on site is very crucial to the whole process."

Humble beginnings

Zayden was doing lawn mowing when one of his clients asked him to transport furniture they had ordered.

He was studying business and landscaping at the time and soon one thing led to another, with Zayden realising there was a need for niche transportation of high-end furniture.

"There was a lack of customer service within the furniture delivery transport carriers at the time," he explains.

"That’s the kind of angle we pushed for; the business grew from word of mouth and people started discussing our service.

"We started off focusing on events – we’d set up furniture and take away the packaging and from there we evolved into retail brands in Australia.

"We were doing that for the first six months while I was still doing landscaping and lawn mowing and then I saw an opportunity there to expand with the ute becoming very limited."

He purchased his first truck within six months and some four years later opened a second depot in Melbourne, followed by a third in Brisbane.

The business uses a mix of Isuzu FRR 600s, NNR and NPRs models and Mitsubishi Fuso Fighter 1024 trucks for the larger deliveries, with Hino 300 series trucks used for lighter loads.

Some of the fleet is new and some is two to three years old, and is updated every four to five years and has two drivers per delivery.

The NSW depot is more than 2,500 square metres in size and has been modified for storage and furniture handling, including a complete racking and 14 docking stations for easy loading and unloading.

Its Melbourne team is about to move to a new warehouse in Campbellfield this month from a 2,000 square metres Reservoir site.

In Coopers Plains, Queensland, the 800 square metre warehouse is home to six trucks.

New kids on the block                     

Ibrahim’s background in supply chain management has strengthened the company’s ability to provide 3PL solutions, Zayden says.

"Understanding the nuances of each client and their transport needs is what allows Ali to deliver on our philosophy of ‘designer transport’ time and time again," Zayden says.

"Once I purchased the first truck, I definitely saw a good opportunity in the market to penetrate that area.

"I knew Ali before that and I knew he had more experience in transport industry."

The pair have also used the confidence of youth to make headway.

"Our competitors are a lot older than us and they probably don’t understand the way we do things – we’re just like the new kids on the block, so to speak," Zayden adds.

"Customers look for someone new to take things to the next level which they haven’t found with the other carriers so I think people when we meet with them and discuss things with them, I can see that they’re longing for someone with a fresh new outlook on how to do things."

Sharpen appeal

One of the most difficult challenges Designer Transport has is finding reliable staff due to the transitional nature of the job.

"We have to make sure that our guys are gentle and careful with the furniture," Zayden says.

"We have a recruitment manager whose job is to constantly bring in new talent but we do find that we have a high turnover of staff and that’s why we try to systemise it.

"Our managers are around for the long haul but the guys on the trucks stay up to four years whereas the offsiders may rotate every eight to 12 months."

There are strict rules in place for his drivers who are the face of the company. From professional personal presentation and conduct to courteous behaviour, Zayden wants them to look as impeccable as possible, with no visible tattoos, no slang, and no comments made about the value of the property or client’s belongings.

They’re also banned from consuming food in trucks and are advised to keep breath mints and deodorant at hand.

Designer Transport prides itself on its service – it unpacks, assembles and cleans goods prior to entering a property and removes all rubbish once the job’s done.

All personnel must undergo and pass various levels of training as a condition of their employment with the company which has rigorous training procedures in place as well as ongoing monthly training for current employees.

Part of this training includes role-playing on presentation and dealing with different circumstances with customers.

"We emphasise the fact that crew members are never to comment or provide an opinion on any products or brands," Zayden says.

"We’ve had a lot of companies start up after we did kind of trying to do the same thing so it means we’re on the right track.

"But to be honest, I don’t see that we have many or any competitors because the way we do things is very different to the way other people do.

"They probably see us as someone that’s changing the game – incorporating the technology that we do for the transport industry as well as being able to offer the service in multiple states on a larger scale."

Technology hunt

With basic transport management software in place, Designer Transport is on the lookout for a customised solution that will enable the company to be the last-mile specialist.

Ibrahim is browsing the web every day, studying the different options out there but is yet to find the perfect software.

With many software companies focusing on courier-based models, the company needs a different solution that can incorporate the customer aspect, enabling customers to be updates on the progress of their delivery.

"For the past six months, I’ve been looking for software out there and trying to figure out what’s suitable for us but because we’re in a niche industry and no one has really built a software that’s complete with package ready for us," Ibrahim says.

"I’m still contemplating on either customising and developing our own proprietary software or going for the closest software that can fit our needs and then adding some customisation to that obviously within budget.

"Our main aim is to keep our customers happy before all else really because if you’ve got a happy customer you’re going to have a successful business.

"We don’t shy away from putting our hand up if it’s our fault; we actually help them find other solutions for them, even if it’s something that’s not involving our own business.

"We go out of our way to find all the contacts we have and provide them to our customers just to help them with the business."

The damage rate of goods has dropped significantly over the years but it’s still inevitable, with line haul between the states a challenge for Designer Transport.

"We have to actually physically load each item, so there’s multiple touch points happening – that’s one of our main challenges as well as staffing and labour because no one at school says that when they grow up they want to be a removalist; it’s a short-term career for our people and it’s physically enduring so the employment time with us is very short."

Tailored service

Designer Transport tailors its service to each client by learning about the client’s products and services, team members, operations and their end clients.

"Doing so allows us to customise and scale our service to the client whilst still keeping within our clients’ budget," Zayden says.

"We then collate feedback on every element of their tailored logistics solutions and use this information to continually review our service and delivery.

"We try to team up the right people that understand their product and work well at that environment.

"If we’re discussing Coco Republic the drivers learn about their history, their products and where they products come from as well as how expensive their products are and who’s buying their products," he adds.

"This is very important as people engage our service and they pay a little bit extra to make sure that their customers are getting the customer experience that they want to portray and that’s where we come in."

National presence

Zayden aims to have a depot and presence in all capital cities nationwide and wants the company to be a solution for larger national transport providers, saying Designer Transport’s services and expertise in larger bulky items and deliveries can benefit many operators who struggle with such articles, including the last-mile solutions.

"I think it’s important to keep an eye on the market and where it’s going as it’s evolved a fair bit since we started," he says.

"When we started our focus was on events and labour hire whereas now we’re about retail partnerships and investing in new technology and trying to revolutionise our industry.

"We didn’t think we’d come this far but there was always a push and desire to improve.

"The furniture and retail industry has increased; there are a lot new entries and people bringing brands from overseas that we didn’t have five or six years ago into the Australian market because they see the Australian market a market worth being in."

Check out the full feature in the January edition of ATN.


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