Business Culture Leads to Success – and CAT Trucks

Sean Carren is emphatic, if not pedantic – “I’m in the customer service business. I fix my customer’s problems, most of which are transport related.” That’s his philosophy, and it’s the theme drilled down into the minds of all his staff at Perth’s Goldstar Transport, in whatever area they work – in the workshop, in the driver’s seat, in the office.

It’s also reflected in his interaction with all his people, and in his thinking for a hiring policy that looks to the challenges and opportunities of the future rather than the imperatives of the present.

“The only way I’m going to get 25 year olds into a truck as a career, plus get the experienced guys to raise their view of their profession, is to give them the environment and the gear that will match not only today’s expectations but tomorrows as well,” he said. “Otherwise I chance being stuck with an ageing driver team that often have blinkers on about change.”

That’s why a new truck heads straight for the workshop when it arrives, where Bluetooth, GPS and various other driver aids are fitted. He wants his people to feel as much at home in their “office” as he feels in his. It doesn’t stop there though. On a major refit, the workshop fits a new steering wheel, new dash pad, new knobs and curtains, plus refreshes the window tint. It maintains driver satisfaction and Goldstar’s customers are the beneficiaries.

That’s why Sean made the big move to Cat Trucks following a year-long request-for-quote process that has determined the immediate future for Goldstar’s heavy duty fleet. All the major manufactures received the invitation; the shortlist was down to five.

Cat won with a quotation which wasn’t the cheapest from a purchase price point of view. But after assessing service costs, parts availability and pricing, and recognising the unmatched reliability record of the Caterpillar engine and driveline, the proposal from Cat Trucks West Australian dealer, WesTrac, was a clear leader in the whole of life cost.

Also, according to Sean a very powerful point was the number of small towns within the 500-kilometre radius of his distribution network that had a Cat dealer with spares that could meet an urgent need on a C13 or C15.

But most importantly, the pedigree of the Cat engine and the top-tier back-up from one of Australia’s biggest Cat dealers played a significant role in his decision to commit big money to a brand that would carry the future of the Goldstar name and business for the next 5-10 years.

Sean will be going through the same process for his linehaul fleet during the course of next year, with planned deliveries in 2014/15.

Ultimately, Sean can’t say enough about the level of customer service from the WesTrac people in Kewdale, who worked closely with NC2 (Cat Trucks) management at its headquarters in Melbourne.

“The quality of the process was outstanding,” he said. When he took delivery of the trucks in Melbourne, they were all ready when they said they’d be, and arrived in Perth when promised.

None of the trucks missed a beat, and no rectification work was required.

Sean planned and ran the roll-out of the new fleet working closely with WesTrac, and after adding the custom bits in the workshop, the trucks were ready for a final pre-delivery, and then sent straight out on the road earning money from day one.

The initial production run of the Cat CT610 and CT630 trucks were equipped with Eaton Roadranger transmissions, but Sean was already moving towards an AMT fleet to minimise maintenance and maximise driver comfort and safety.

So when West Australian sales manager Terry Harwood knocked on Sean’s door in August 2011 with the keys to a CT630 demonstrator that had an Eaton Ultrashift Plus retro-fitted at the factory. It came with an open invitation to use the truck in the business with no restrictions and no strings attached. If he liked it and it performed as expected, the sale would stand.

The truck was profitable from day one, never went back, and there are now ten Cat Trucks currently in service with Goldstar – nine in local distribution work and one doing a two-trailer road train to the north-west twice a week.

The Cat dealer network is recognised as having an industry-leading policy of engagement and investment in its people, and Sean says that fitted perfectly with his own views about training and future opportunities for growth. “Culture trumps strategy every time,” is one of his favourite sayings.

So changing the focus of his mainstream truck brand was a big move for his business. Sean has driven the Cat CT610 and CT630 units in his fleet and says they are not only an outstanding value proposition for the business, but are stand-out performers from a driver’s point of view as well.

Goldstar has built an enviable reputation for problem solving which results in customers being firmly attached to the company.

The name – ‘Goldstar’ came from the hazy memories of his school days – “you do a good job, what do you get? A gold star. I’m determined to have a reputation of doing a good job,” he said.

“We only do good quality business and we do it well. That’s what’s secured some blue-chip customers along the way.”

Now he runs a dynamic business that in 2011 was awarded Coca-Cola Amatil’s National Supplier of the Year for Transport and Logistics, an award that Sean is especially proud of.

“Our new fleet is an essential part of that story,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without Cat.”

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