Unique WA workshop celebrates 10th anniversary
WHEN Tim Bowman left school there was no doubt he would pursue a career in the transport industry - it was all he ever wanted to do - but not even Tim could have envisaged how far that passion would take him.
Two decades down the track and Tim and wife Melissa run T&M Heavy Mechanical and Site Services, a business that operates out of Bunbury and Port Hedland in Western Australia and which is about to mark its 10th anniversary.
T&M has specialised in heavy vehicle mechanical repairs from the start but in more recent times has extended its reach to the road haulage sector.
"You could call it a fairly unique business, we're pretty diversified and you wouldn't find a more diverse business over here (in WA),” Tim said.
"To have mechanical, airconditioning, auto electrical services, road transport - there's not too many around like that and then there's the variety of things we can haul based on the diversity of our fleet, from walk-in floor trailers to tippers and bulk tippers and then interlock trailers.
"With 18 prime movers and more than 50 trailer combinations, it really gives us a lot of scope, with wood chips, logs, grain, lime and fertiliser some our main business.”
Starting out in Bunbury, T&M expanded into Port Hedland earlier this year, with the business now split fairly evenly between the mechanical and road transport sectors.
Tim, who grew up in Tasmania where he trained as a heavy diesel mechanic before moving to WA at the age of 19, said the expansion of the business had been a gradual process, from just himself and Melissa at the start to a staff of 35 today, including 16 truck drivers.
When it comes to mechanical repairs, their clients come from the trucking sector and mining industry, with T&M also supplying a number of mechanics on labour hire contracts to several mines in WA's Pilbara region.
With its clients running 24/7 operations, T&M runs to the same time frames to ensure any issue, at any time of day, is resolved as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
To do that, they require the same easy and immediate access to parts, for which they rely on Truckline, Australia's largest retailer of after-market truck and trailer parts.
"We've been with Truckline since the beginning basically,” Tim said.
"When I opened our first workshop in Bunbury they were literally two doors down and we've had a great relationship with them ever since.
"They were right there then and they're still right there whenever we need them. They know what you want and go above and beyond to deliver that. We run a 24/7 business and we need parts to back that up.
"With Truckline you can ring them on a Sunday and they're there and for us availability is key. Their stock levels are great, they carry what you need, they've got everything and that's key. Day to day, it's a one-stop shop really.
"The experience the staff have can't be underestimated either. Having someone on the end of the phone with years of experience is so important and the staff tend to stay around, so you're able to build relationships and they get to know your business.”
These values are important to Tim as he runs his business on the same principles: quality service and expert advice.
To maintain this reputation, T&M appreciates the importance of keeping abreast of industry developments and trends and Tim has recently returned from the annual conference of the Livestock and Rural Transport Association of Western Australia in Busselton.
The LRTAWA represents the state's rural transporters, ensuring policy decisions affecting the industry support the viability and safety of rural transporters, primary industry and the communities they service.
This year the topics discussed traversed roll-over prevention, Northlink and Safety Bay transport projects, industry cohesion and more.
As one of the conference sponsors again this year, Truckline is proud of its involvement with the organisation, as well as appreciative of the support extended by LRTAWA members like Tim.
They in turn value Truckline's involvement and the assistance these sponsorships provide in pursuing the issues that matter to members.
The conference was a rare break away for Tim, who, a decade on, still works across all aspects of the business, from truck repairs to jumping behind the wheel for a haulage job, while Melissa keeps the accounts and admin side running smoothly.
There won't be any slowing down as T&M motors into its second decade, with Tim and Melissa always on the lookout for new opportunities.
There won't be any big celebrations for the anniversary milestone either, save for a few moments of reflection on their success.
"I grew up around the industry - my father and uncles operated or owned trucks and machinery - so when I left school I was never going to do anything else,” Tim said.
"But I could never have envisaged the business we have today and the way it's expanded and grown in so many different directions. Never in a million years.”