Roger Pickering understands that a business needs to change with the times.
With a loan of 500 pounds from his grandfather, Roger’s father and uncle, Ted and George, started the family transport business back in 1950 with a single, secondhand, fire engine-red 1942 army Dodge that they used to run local cartage around the Swan Hill region during the winter months when the family pumpkin farm was quiet. The business grew from there. They joined a local group of owner-operators at Lake Boga and started to carry produce from that region into Melbourne. Over the years, the other owner-operators dropped off and eventually Ted and George owned the business outright.
In 1977 they acquired their second transport business and, in 1979, their third.
They slowly increased their fleet, eventually handing day-to-day control over the to next generation of Pickerings.
Roger got involved in the business when he was “just a kid”.
“It was what you did back in the 1960s. I went to work with my father and just grew up in the business. By the age of thirteen I was out loading and unloading trucks. By fifteen I left home and came to work in Melbourne, having achieved all I was going to achieve in school,” he says with a sly grin.
He worked his way up through the business and today, as General Manager, he has his hands full managing a fleet of over 115 line haul truck and B-Doubles, 60 rigid traybodies doing local work and about 360 staff across 11 branches.
“We first got in touch with Mobicon because we have a growing trend in export and containers and we had to find a better method of lifting them on and off,” he explains.
“Everything you do is about reducing costs and labour costs are a very large portion of our business. In Melbourne we were lifting all our containers with a side loader which was a 24 minute process. The first Mobicon that we bought a couple of years ago halved that time. The new one has halved it again, down to a 6 minute process.”
He says they looked closely at getting a large forklift “but the footprint on the ground of a big fork is exceptionally heavy comparative to a Mobicon. The pavement we have wouldn’t be suitable to a big fork. It would have broken up very quickly.”
“The Mobicon will also work in much tighter areas – just a safer, more seamless operation,” he says.
“One of the other things I liked about the Mobicon is the entry. When you straddle the container, there are very few, if any, objects that can be hit as the driver bumps the container – and they obviously inadvertently do do that. The Mobicon to me is quite a solid, sturdy piece of equipment.”
Roger liked his original Mobicon so much that he was the first customer in Australia to purchase their latest model – the Mobicon ECO Top Lift Two High. The third Mini Straddle Carrier model in their ECO series has a top spreader that can stack containers one over one (or two high).
“The beauty of this new Mobicon, for our branch in Melbourne, is that we’re in a confined space and, if you get 25 or 30 full containers, our yard is quite congested. Now we can double stack them, which doubles the number that we can store, and reduce the space that we need. Melbourne land values are quite high and, you know, to be able to utilise it better with the double stacking is absolutely paramount.”
Tom Schults, the inventor of the Mobicon and Managing Director of Brisbane-based Mobicon Systems, says the introduction of the new model was the result of customer feedback.
“In the past we have received quite a few requests for a stacking Mini Straddle Carrier and the new model has already generated a lot of interest from around the globe,” says Tom.
He claims the Mobicon ECO Top Lift Two High Straddle Carrier Model is perfect for companies that require speed in their operation and where yard conditions may not allow the operator to exit the cabin and where space is at a premium.