KEVIN MUNRO – MACQUARIE VALLEY TRANSPORT
Of the many things that impress regional NSW truck operator Kevin Munro about his Cat® CT630 model, it’s actually the monthly fuel bill which impresses most. Not because he enjoys paying fuel bills but simply because the bills are so much better than before.
In Business 20 years
“From the day the Cat started work, our monthly fuel bills have been at least five hundred dollars less than the cab-over we ran before,” says a resolute Kevin Munro. “That’s an incredible saving in a business like ours.
“When we first bought the Cat I thought we might be a little better on fuel but I never imagined it would be this much better.
“On top of that, the Cat’s half a tonne lighter.”
Based in the central NSW city of Dubbo, Kevin and wife Lea own and operate Macquarie Valley Transport, servicing the transport needs of a diverse customer base scattered among the distant communities and sprawling farmlands of western and north-west New South Wales.
In between calls from customers and freight agents, Lea Munro explains growth has come steadily since buying the business 20 years ago.
“There wasn’t much to it when we bought it,” she recalls. “Just two small Japanese trucks picking up and delivering small loads in Dubbo and towns around the region. But we quickly changed the name to Macquarie Valley Transport because it reflects where we’re from and also puts our own stamp on the business.
“We’re not a big operation by any means but we are totally dedicated to the business and our customers.
“Like any transport business it has its commercial pressures and when it’s all boiled down, service and reliability are the things that have kept it going.”
“We don’t let people down,” Kevin adds emphatically. “Reliability is everything and in this business we have to be able to do a job on short notice. Sometimes very short notice.
“We run hand-in-hand with the ups and downs of the rural industry,” he continues. “Much of what we do revolves around the cotton industry and broad-acre farming so when rain and drought have a big impact on farmers, they also have a direct impact on our workloads.
“Good times and bad, you still need to be reliable and people get to trust that reliability, particularly when things are tough. That’s where good equipment is such an important asset because you know it’ll get the job done.”
Loads range from Lea picking up and delivering parcel freight to Dubbo businesses in a utility, to a driver in a six-tonne truck carrying larger items around the local area and outlying towns.
Meantime, Kevin remains at the helm of the Cat CT630 coupled to a three-axle dog trailer hauling the vast array of products required by rural communities and businesses as distant as Broken Hill to the west and Moree to the north.
Critically, the company is a licenced dangerous goods carrier and along with a wide range of chemical products, the Cat primarily hauls farm machinery, fencing equipment, seed and livestock feed products. Operating under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme with Performance-based Standards (PBS) approval, Kevin insists the truck regularly works at maximum gross weight.
“The truck and dog trailer combination is definitely an asset,” he remarks, citing several significant advantages over a semi-trailer configuration, not least the ability to segregate chemicals from other products and the flexibility to operate as a rigid truck when load volumes are down.
“With the Cat’s tight turning circle, the truck and dog is also a lot more manoeuvrable than a semi-trailer,” he adds. “In fact the turning circle is even better than the cab-over we had before.”
Replacing a high profile cab-over brand which they had bought new five years earlier, Kevin and Lea took delivery of the Cat CT630 extended cab model late in 2014 from Dubbo Cat dealer WesTrac. Keen to support local Dubbo businesses, the Cat started its working life with a new curtain-sided body supplied by DND Welding and matching curtain-sided dog trailer from Express Engineering.
On the decision to choose a Cat truck over all other contenders, an adamant Kevin Munro said there were many enticing factors. For starters, “I’d driven trucks with Cat engines years ago and their performance always impressed me, so when Cat trucks came on the market I was immediately interested.
“There was something of a gut feeling about it. I liked the look of the truck from the start and all the reports I read were generally very positive. There was certainly nothing to suggest I shouldn’t do it,” he enthused.
However, it was a visit to the Cat stand at the 2013 Brisbane Truck Show and subsequent discussions with WesTrac personnel which ultimately convinced Kevin Munro that Cat should be his next new truck.
Now a year after taking delivery, Kevin is unequivocally convinced. “It was the right decision. Definitely!”
Again he cites fuel economy as the single-most impressive benefit but concedes that actual fuel figures are not the prime indicator of the Cat’s greater efficiency.
“In this business things can change from day to day. One day you’re running as a truck and dog at top weight, then the next day you’re running as a rigid, so I don’t really bother looking at how many kilometres per litre the truck is using,” Kevin explains.
“What counts is the fuel bill at the end of the month and like I said, every month we’re consistently five hundred dollars or more ahead of where we were with the previous truck doing exactly the same work. And at the end of the day, that’s money in the bank for us.”
He agrees the streamlined contours of the Cat conventional undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on overall fuel economy but likewise, he believes the strong performance and fierce determination of Cat’s tireless C15 engine play a vital role in keeping fuel costs under control.
“It’s an engine that just does the job so easy and the way I see it, that has to be a positive when it comes to getting good fuel economy,” Kevin contends.
When we first bought the Cat I thought we might be a little better on fuel but I never imagined it would be this much better.
Yet he is quick to add that fuel efficiency is not the only feature which keeps him well satisfied with the Cat.
“Some of the roads out here leave a lot to be desired and it’s not unusual to get onto rough farm tracks but there are absolutely no rattles or squeaks in the cab. It doesn’t seem to matter what sort of road you’re on, the comfort and ride of the Cat are good. Really good, and the steering and handling are excellent as far as I’m concerned,” Kevin comments.
Although he’s home most nights, there are occasions when longer runs necessitate a night in the bunk and he rates the extended cab of the CT630 as, “Ideal for this job. It’s comfortable and I don’t have any trouble getting a good night’s sleep. It’s actually perfect for what I want.”
Kevin also offers high praise for the standards of customer support from WesTrac’s Dubbo facility, listing the company’s widespread service outlets in regional NSW as an important factor in the decision to choose Cat above all other truck brands.
“I know help is never too far away if I need it,” he says thoughtfully.
“Nothing seems to be a problem and I can honestly say the level of service has been great. There was one small issue early and WesTrac jumped on it straightaway. I certainly have no complaints about the service or the cost.
“WesTrac does all the service work on the truck and it’s a lot cheaper than what I was paying with our other truck.
“There’s not much more I can really say about it except that I’ve had a few people ask me how the Cat’s going and would I make the same choice again.
“All I can tell them is the truth that the truck’s performing really well, it’s great on fuel and there are no complaints about the service and support from WesTrac.
“So would I make the same choice again?
“Absolutely. It’s an easy truck to like,” Kevin Munro concludes.