Owner/driver Mat Stefan specialises in transporting shop fittings and commercial furniture – items which don’t fit neatly into a box.
It’s his niche and it’s why he spent an extra $50,000 on his trailer.
Forklifts, bobcats and cars are also regular passengers. When Driveline caught up with him, he’d just finished moving a three-tonne forklift from Brisbane to Melbourne after his client bought it on e-bay.
“You have to spend money to make money. You’re investing for four or five years down the track and this trailer gets me the work.”
“It’s a 45inch drop deck tautliner that he had specially designed to be multi-purpose. A mezzanine floor increases capacity, a polished steel floor helps cargo slide easily, the gating is far more adaptable than normal, and the tailgate is rated to lift 2,000 kilograms.”
“That tailgate means I can drive cars or forklifts straight into the trailer because your average car only weighs 1,500 kilograms. I can drive three cars straight in and lock them down,” he said.
For Mat, that’s a dead easy load. He carts a lot of shop fittings – pre-made shelving and cabinets etc – for major manufacturers like Associated Projects and Australasian Retail Projects which have clients nationwide.
“The items are made up in their factories and have to be hand loaded. It can take six hours to load anything from 20-100 cubic metres of cabinets and then another three to five hours to unload at the other end.”
“A lot of times I’m carting glass cabinets which you can’t stack, but then I’ve also done 60 tonnes of tin shelves.”
Mat’s firm called Foo’s Transport (Foo is his lifelong nickname – as a child Mathew was too hard to pronounce and it came out sounding like Ma Foo). He started it about 10 years ago after a spot of creative carpentry.
“I studied woodwork at Tech but I ended up making wishing wells and bird houses out of recycled timber and they were big sellers for a while.”
“It was good business. I’d pick up some pailings from the tip which cost me nothing. Then I’d turn them into something I could sell for $1000.”
Mat got his first small truck to move his woodwork from his home in Emerald, Victoria, into Canberra and Sydney. Then more and more people started asking him to haul their stuff and Mat moved from manufacturing into transport.
“First I had a six tonner, then a 20, then a 38 and now I’ve got a 90 tonne B-double.”
That truck is a new Freightliner CST120 with a Detroit Series 60 power plant.
“I’m really happy with it. I can’t complain at all,” he said. “It’s really comfortable to drive which for me is important because I spend so much time in it.”
Most of Mat’s work is on the eastern seaboard between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane but Townsville and Darwin are also regular stops with Perth “now and then – if it pays”.
A recent run saw him cover about 3,500 kilometres in five days, taking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and Tenterfield then back to Sydney and Melbourne. Racking up 180,000 kilometres a year is about average.
“I live in this truck five or six days a week so I had to get the big sleeper which I think is great,” Mat said.
“I know a lot of blokes buy trucks because of the badge or the look. I think my truck looks good, but it’s not about looks, it’s about if it’s going to make you money and that is what this Freightliner is doing for me.”
With more and more people buying cars over the internet and the Federal Government’s stimulus package encouraging shop owners to refurbish their stores, business has been strong for Mat with new clients appearing every month.
So if all goes to plan a second Freightliner is not too far away.
“I’m looking at a B-double Argosy Evolution with the 110″ cab and will get it rated for road train work.”
Lots of work for a bloke hauling freight no-one else wants.