Business is booming for laid-back Peter
TOWNSVILLE'S Peter Keen could well be described as an accidental fleet operator.
The laid-back bloke bought a single tip truck to build some roads on a bush block a while back and ended up with a fleet of six trucks that is flat-out carting local quarry-based products in the Townsville region.
With a clever play on his surname, Peter named his business AzKeen, which has become a well-known business in this area of north Queensland.
Relationships are a big deal to Peter. Not just with his customers, but with his staff and everyone in his industry. After all, this all began with a suggestion from a friend.
"I had a mate come down chasing pigs with me and he was the foreman for a Cairns earthmoving business and he asked what I was doing with the tip truck I bought to build the roads on my block,” Peter said as he leans on the back of his Toyota ute near a busy sand quarry.
"I told him I was going to sell it and he told me they needed more trucks up in Cairns and asked if I could give them a hand.
"So, I went up to Cairns the next Monday and started working for him and my first job went for two years.”
He explains that he continued to work hard and bring on another driver, before another mate suggested he buy a new truck in order to work for him at Holcim.
Peter worked on a range of projects, including running a road train carting bridge decking to Mt Isa before he returned to Townsville, or Town as many of the locals call it, and carted earthmoving gear for three years in addition to some quarry work.
He then took the opportunity to purchase some gear and a contract for quarry work from a local company.
"It was time to upgrade the trucks,” Peter said.
"I wanted to find a manufacturer who was solely responsible for the truck, so I didn't want to fight about engine problems and be told that it is a third party issue and to have to go see someone else to fix it.”
Peter explains that he got to know fellow Townsville resident Greg Jackson at RGM Maintenance, who sell and service Daimler Trucks in the region.
He got into a 16-litre 2658 Mercedes-Benz demonstrator and was instantly impressed by the comfort and safety.
Within a few months he would have three of them in his fleet, all running Active Emergency Braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and fatigue warning.
"My staff are my most important asset, so number one, I want them to be safe and two, I want them to be comfortable. And I don't get any complaints I can tell you,” Peter said.
Then there is the efficiency.
"The fuel economy is insane,” he said, as a conventional truck pulls up behind us.
"We are getting 2.5km per litre; the driver can't believe it. The truck behind you would be flat out getting 1.8km per litre and I know because I sold one of them to get the Benz.”
The longer service intervals were also attractive, along with the warranty.
"Then there are the little things,” Peter said.
"They build a fridge into the truck. The first thing you do when you buy a new truck is to spend $1000 on a new fridge but you don't have to do that with this.”
Lastly, it comes down to the relationship with the guys who look after the truck at RGM Maintenance.
"They started out as diesel fitters, fixing gear and then they moved to sales. Nothing is an issue with them,” Peter said.
"I've had brand new trucks from other brands and there has always been an issue when it comes to warranty, but not with these guys.”