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Simpsons Fuel: embracing change to boost business

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Vehicle productivity and service modernisation drive firm forward

Simpsons Fuel: embracing change to boost business
Sarah and her father Gordon

 

Family-run Simpsons Fuel has expanded into fuel cartage, growing by 30 per cent over the last three years.

The fourth-generation company based in Alexandra, Victoria, has been going from strength to strength since its early days as a general freight carrier.

Established by Ian Simpson upon migrating from Scotland, the business soon changed track to fuel, providing petrol for Commonwealth Oil Refineries (COR) which later became BP Australia.

Simpsons became a fuel distributor for Caltex Australia in 1985 when BP pulled out of country Victoria, seeing its customer base grow to 1,200 today.

Run by Ian’s son Gordon and grandchildren Cameron and Sarah, the company was the first to purchase a performance based standards (PBS) 20m rigid dog and tanker to carry 46,000 litres of diesel on each run – up from 30,000 on a regular semi-trailer.

The company now offers fuel cartage services in order to maximise efficiency across its five trucks, Sarah explains.

"We’re in our second year of it and the amount we have done this year has quadrupled from the first year – it’s probably close to 15 per cent of business now," Sarah says.

"The trucks were going down to Melbourne anyway so it’s not a huge amount of extra kilometres, it’s just something we were able to do to make the trucks run better and get the hours up."

The company is also setting up a workshop, led by Cameron, to deliver truck maintenance to its fleet – a task previously found challenging in the country area.

With two Volvo, one Scania and two Isuzu trucks, the business now focuses on compliance more than ever.

"It’s harder and harder out there for the transport industry," Gordon says.

"It’s hard to get big contracts and do cartage; we need to be able to show that we’re taking appropriate steps to manage our risks and emphasis on Chain of Responsibility, so for us it’s making sure we’re doing the best by our customers and delivering fuel to sites safely."

The PBS carrier has helped increase productivity and reduce costs.

However, the company has no plans of introducing a second tanker.

As consumers transition to alternative fuels, Simpson’s focus is to stay relevant, Sarah says.

"It’d be interesting to work with Caltex in the future about alternative fuel, potentially the fuel industry will loot a lot different in 20 years’ time than now so it’s about considering how do we stay relevant and embrace change and move with the industry and with the times and be able to still grow," she says.

Nestled between the Goulburn Valley Highway and Maroondah Highway some 26km west of Eildon, Alexandra is a sleepy little town with a population of fewer than 3,000.

Being a major fuel distributor across three shires, Simpsons also supplies fuel to the local urban and rural communities, primary producers, government agencies, haulage companies, earthmoving contractors and timber harvesting operators.

It regularly delivers to remote locations such as logging coupes and ski resorts, and by arrangement provides fuel 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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