Bedrock Quarry Products and Bulk Transport: Accidental success

By: Warren Aitken


What was to be a short phase in his working life ended up being an almost three-decade career in road transport for Mick Colley

Bedrock Quarry Products and Bulk Transport: Accidental success
Early morning starts for the Bedrock driven Mack Tridum

 

Don’t let the title of this story fool you. Bedrock Quarry Products and Bulk Transport’s success is far from accidental. In fact, the success of the 17-strong fleet is based on its innovation, its commitment to service and its team of experienced and hardworking staff.

The accidental side of things is actually a reference to the man that started the company nine years ago, Mick Colley, and his trucking origins.

"I got into the industry by accident, as a fill-in job, just to drive a truck," Colley recalls with a laugh.

"A friend of the old man was in trucks and he said, ‘I’ll get you a job driving a truck until you work out what you’re gonna do’. That was 28 years ago."

That original job was in the earthmoving and tipping side of the industry and over the next three decades Colley ended up working his way up through the industry, starting as a driver and ending up as a general manager before the company he was working for was sold.

Colley, in the good old fashioned Aussie way of ‘have a go’, took that opportunity to buy his own truck.

"We started in 2010 in the middle of the global financial crisis," Colley says. "It’s the hard times; if you can get through that you’ll be right."

Get through it he did. Originally doing more earthmoving and jobsite work, Colley ran his truck by day and, alongside his partner Jan (who can be found diligently managing the accounts to this day), ran his business by night. In 12 months he bought his second truck, a brand-new Mack.

"The company I used to work for had a lot of Macks," he explains. "I had got to know all the people there and how they treat you.

"The thing with Mack is they look after you."

Nine years later and with 17 bulldogs in the fleet, it’s a credit to Colley’s Mack salesman Dan Langford and the team at VCV Sydney West that Bedrock hold them in such high regard.

Bedrock2.JPG

Service industry

It was at this point of my chat with the camera-shy Colley that the second man sitting at the table, Colley’s transport manager and equally camera-shy Adrian Cruse recalls the original plan for Bedrock was "three to five trucks, that’s it". A small manageable number. Now my maths isn’t the greatest but 17 with more on order isn’t anywhere near three.

So why did it change so much? "I stopped doing the earthmoving stuff," Colley confesses. He goes on to explain his view of not just his company but the transport industry as a whole.

"We are not a transport company; we are a reseller of quarry products."

He likens Bedrock’s business model to that of Coles or Woollies, where he purchases products directly from the supplier and sells them on to his customers, although his customers are concrete plants and wholesalers themselves rather than door-to-door sales. His truck fleet is a necessary requirement to fulfil those orders.

When it comes to the transport industry itself, Colley says, "I’ve always thought of the transport industry as a service industry." It’s that focus on customers and service that has driven Bedrock to its success.

"I’ve always been the type of guy where you’ve got to be honest with your customers, whether you’re the boss or wherever you are down the line. It’s gotta be no bullshit!"

Colley’s approach worked, though even he admits it worked faster than he planned.

"When I first started I tendered for six big jobs, thinking I should get at least one of them, I got all six!"


Read about Bedrock's PBS developments in 2017, here


He employed quite a few subbies at the beginning to fulfil those original tenders and get him up and running.

Colley is the first to credit the team around him for the continued success of Bedrock. Cruse is a testament to that belief and responsibility Colley puts in his workers.

"When I started with Mick, I had no truck and dog experience at all – zero. I’d driven semi-trailers, I’d driven rigids, rigids with tag trailers," Cruse explains.

"Mick handed me the keys to a 10-month old truck and dog and said, ‘look after it for me, see ya later’."

Though he admits the first three months he wondered what the hell he was doing – getting in and out of jobs in the Sydney area while still learning the ropes was a mental drain. However, Colley’s belief in Cruse’s abilities were justified.

"I could always see him being in the office," Colley says. But he also realised at the time that Cruse was enjoying the driving too much.

Cruse would spend almost a decade behind the wheel before he finally relented and took up Colley’s offer as transport manager. It’s fair to say, it’s not an easy job but one Cruse is suited for after spending time in all of the different vehicle configurations Bedrock has. That on-job experience means Cruse can make the best use of each vehicle, knowing their capabilities means maximising their productivity.

A-double tippers

Optimisation is another key to the success of Bedrock Quarry Products and Bulk Transport. Colley is continually finding more and more productive ways to run the company.

"In this industry, you’ve got to be different to everybody else, you’ve got to think outside the square, you’ve got to be the innovator, not the sheep." Colley and Cruse take this approach when it comes to looking at the future of Sydney as well as the fleet.

"We look at the areas we know are going to be developed and apply for permits for streets all around the area."

That forward thinking means when the jobs come up Bedrock is ready to get into it without having to chase up permits.

The innovation driving the business is the least visible area of Bedrock’s philosophy. Where it shows its desire to improve and optimise the most is in its fleet.

Along with being one of the leading companies to introduce A-doubles into Sydney’s tipping market, Bedrock was one of the leaders in the arrival of the five-axle dog trailer.

Technically, their five-axle was the second in Sydney with Colley admitting, "I could have had one six months earlier but I chickened out". He wasn’t convinced he could justify the expense of such a unique new build at the time. Eventually, Colley would end up with two five-axle dog trailers in the fleet.

Bedrock3.JPG

As the company grew, so did Colley’s innovative search for productivity. He knew the four-axle truck and dog combinations could get a 39-tonne payload, so the use of five-axle dogs would allow for a 43-tonne payload.

When the A-doubles arrived; they could get a 52-tonne payload but their use was more limited than the truck and dogs. So the next step for Colley and Bedrock was the idea building a five-axle Mack ‘Tridem’ project. Three years of design and testing would follow for Bedrock, Mack Trucks and Sloanebuilt Trailers, with the end result being the Mack Tridem Super-Liner. The fresh design created a bogie drive truck with a lazy axle towing a five-axle trailer and allowing for a 48-tonne payload.

When asked where the idea first came from, Colley jokingly replied: "Some mad idiot from out at Maroota [speaking about himself] who comes up with stupid ideas and takes them to the trailer builder."

Colley is blunt in his summary.

"The more you can stick on a truck the more money you’ll make, the less your costs are."

His original crayon drawing (crayons weren’t mentioned but Colley would be that kind of character) was actually a twin steer tri drive Super-Liner. However, at the time Mack did not have a load sharing front axle.

The majority of the three-year process was taken up with engineering permits and approvals as well as NSW Roads and Maritime Services testing.

Colley credits the team at Sloanebuilt trailers for their expertise and skill which brought his ideas to life. The success of Bedrock’s Super-Liner Tridum has meant the appearance of several more of the combinations now and with that comes more feedback on their success. What that also means is both Colley and now Cruse have the crayons out for future designs. It’s this attitude to continually learning that drives Bedrock’s success.

Cruse is one of the youngest transport managers around but has reached his position by learning along the way and thrives on the new challenges he faces.

Colley keeps rewriting what is possible in his sector of the transport industry by learning new innovative ways and Bedrock Quarry products and Bulk Transport keeps growing in numbers and locations.

It’s very clear that this company is no ‘accidental success’.

 

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook

 

Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire