Taking a deep breath, we purchased the CHEP trailer hire fleet of 65 trailers on the 15th of November. The average age of the fleet was eight years old, and the vehicles were definitely showing the effects of a hard life on the road. The company traded as Trailer Rentals and was based in the CHEP pallet hire yard at Neilson Street, Onehunga, Auckland.
Our first new trailers were proudly displayed at 'Transport 93’ at Mystery Creek Events Centre. They were a Steelbro tri-axle skeletal and two new Roadmaster B-Trains.
Our new Auckland property was purchased where TR Group Head Office is currently located at 781 Great South Road, Penrose. It was a mortgagee sale for a derelict 10-acre site.
We completed a lease deal for 26 trailers with NZL Transport. This was the start of an important relationship that’s still going strong today.
We gained a lower North Island hub when we purchased land in Palmerston North, and our own rental operation was established. The yard opened later that year.
Land in Christchurch was purchased and was developed to be an impressive 5,000m² purpose-built facility. It included a truck wash facility open to the industry.
Systems relating to the successful hiring, and on-going review and development of our team began. At this stage, the TR team totalled eight, and the fleet reached 500 vehicles. We'd come a long way in a short time.
We’d outgrown the original Keith Hay Homes building in Penrose, which had served us so well. In its place, a new 447m² office building was built toward the rear of the Penrose yard. In true TR style, the new triangle shaped building was designed in the shape of a critical trailer dimension - the kingpin to front corner and the swept path.
We got started in the business of leasing trucks, and the first truck lease deals were written.
In one of the most significant and difficult steps in TR's development, all old funding facilities were replaced with a single, expanded facility provided by Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This excellent relationship remains in place today.
A new People Care and Development position was established to assist with our focus on looking after a team that had grown to 70 people. The role was charged with considering and implementing ways to develop the skills within the team for the future.
The first truck was run through our newest truck wash, located in Palmerston North.
Further expansion of the rental network into Dunedin took us to nine branches (which included one agency arrangement in Auckland).
Used vehicle sales were growing in importance, so all activities associated with selling ex-rental, ex-lease and other used vehicles were consolidated into a single point of control – the new Used Vehicle Sales division.
A further 600m² of office space was added to the Auckland building to accommodate our growing team and still leave room for expansion.
A new 30,000m² site in Christchurch was commissioned and a new branch added in New Plymouth, taking us to 10 in all.
Driver training was identified as a high value service to allow customers and operators to upskill drivers. The Professional Driver Training service began with the goals of improving driver safety and the reduction of fuel and repair and maintenance costs.
A formal Skills Development Program was set in place to assist with the development of our team. The intent of this program was to turn TR Group into a factory of future leaders.
We purchased Vehicle Tracking Limited. Providing GPS Vehicle Tracking and Engine Management Systems (EMS) services is an important part of our aspiration to provide total world-class vehicle management services to our customers.
This was a tough year for our rental business, with demand for casual hire at an all time low. It turned out to be a year of all hands to the pump. We are very proud of how we maintained our profitability and weathered one of the biggest tests in our company’s history. We are equally proud of our clients and how our working relationships have grown through this period – thank you!
Finished in July, we finally occupied the land we bought in 2008! The Christchurch branch now had a state of art office and a truly massive yard with a great profile.
Our IT team was given the green light to develop an in-house operating system that brought all parts of the business together for the first time. It was expected to take a number of years to complete this project with Truck Wash, Used Vehicle Sales and Fleet Management being the first areas to be developed. The new system was named Optimus after the Transformer ‘Optimus Prime’!
Our new web site went live, offering the ability for clients to browse their fleet, including vehicle specifications and photos as well as accessing their current account status. The site was also set up to be automatically updated with all new vehicles available for sale.
Demand for rental was strong at this point, due to factors including uncertainty around RUC changes, the Interisland ferry having to under go a six-month refurbishment, and the ongoing earthquakes in Christchurch.
Getting our rates right was a big focus for the year – profitability was seen as the pathway to our dreams of taking TR Group overseas.
After a seven-year battle with local authorities, we finally got the green light to start developing “The Swamp” in Auckland. We really needed room to spread out!
Our Operational Support Services (OSS) division began to take shape. This would be a game changer. Our fuel saving and driver safety programs started to generate a high level of interest within the industry.
We wrote the first lease deal that really leveraged the overall TR value proposition, when BP signed up to lease trucks from us at a significant price premium over our competitors. They agreed to do this based on our assurances that they would more than recover that additional cost with our OSS efficiency, safety and compliance programmes, off-road RUC recovery, and management of the fleet’s maintenance (both TR owned vehicles as well as the BP owned fleet). Throughout the course of the year, we hit all our promised goals, which led to us landing more fleet deals that leveraged OSS, lease, rental and managed maintenance as a combined package.
This year, we set new records for summer month rental revenues, and enjoyed strong lease and used vehicle sales numbers.
We reviewed our property portfolio and got stuck into realising the value from surplus land.
We also dedicated a full-time resource to People Care and Development, bringing intensity and focus to looking after our team.
Our funding facility was locked in for another two years. This was a great achievement made more difficult by one of our banks deciding not to renew their facility due to strife in other areas of their banking portfolio.
We had something of a perfect storm for rental in 2013, with great summer weather helping to make the produce season a cracker. In addition, the impact of the Christchurch rebuild started really kicking in, along with a rebounding economy, record building consents, and finally the loss of a propeller on the Interisland ferry all driving demand for rental gear. The rental team subsequently set new revenue records in every month of the year!
Not to be outdone, lease revenues cracked $6 million in monthly billings for the first time during the year. As a consequence we invoiced a record $10 million dollars in one month for the first time.
The telematics industry price war culminated in such low monthly pricing that there was no longer any margin available for us to carry on selling telematics under the TR model. As a result, we negotiated a deal to sell our telematics business to EROAD in return for fitting our rental fleet with EROAD GPS and eRuc systems. This was a great result as it gave us regular and accurate updates of fleet mileages that helped with rental billing and allowed the maintenance team to better track servicing. This removed a huge administrative headache for both teams.
The IT team continued to develop our Optimus IT system, and were closing in on completing rental and maintenance programming.
We refinanced the business, bringing in a new investor and some different banks including the biggest one in the world – the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The revised arrangement provided us great flexibility for future growth.
A new lease was signed in Tauranga, aimed at moving the used vehicle and rental branches in together in one 10,000m² yard.
Our Lean Business journey began.
Our sales team broke all previous records achieving their full 12-month budget for new deals by December!
To help our customers get the most from their vehicles, TR Group completes the acquisition of Master Drive Services - a leading driver training and licencing company.
TR Groups now owns 3,700 heavy commercial vehicles and a further 1,500 vehicles where maintenance is managed on behalf of our customers.