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Feature Article

True to their word

West Coasters place great value on staying true to their word and Greymouth-based freight company Grey Valley Couriers is no exception. Owners James and Donna Gillman have built their reputation by delivering on their promises and now rely on FUSO to ensure they continue to do so.

“Our word is our bond,” says James. “If we say we’ll do it; we will do everything in our power to get it done. It’s just how it is down here; if you don’t think that way, you don’t last.”

Those values have remained true of Grey Valley Couriers as it’s grown into the largest courier fleet servicing the West Coast. James and Donna found similar values at Keith Andrews Trucks when looking online at a spec truck to replace one of their older units.

“I was looking at an 11-tonne Fighter curtainsider on Keith Andrews’ website, but when I called up it had just been sold. The salesman Mike Orr asked me if there was anything else he could help me with; I said I was also looking to replace a little town truck.

“Long story short: he sent me a quote, I bit the bullet, Tradesman Motorbodies built it and when it arrived we were just blown away – both with the service form Keith Andrews and the quality of the build.

“It was just little things that often get overlooked and which are a massive inconvenience to get sorted once we have trucks down here and working. Mike’s just so easy to deal with; nothing’s ever a problem.”

That view was reinforced when an older 11-tonne unit was blown off the road in high winds during the 740km round trip run from Greymouth to Haast.

“We needed a truck in a hurry,” says James. “Mike pulled a Keith Andrews spec truck out of the bodybuilders and pushed through a new unit for us. When someone goes out of their way for you like that, you don’t turn your back on them.”

Peace of mind

Grey Valley Couriers has bought two 616 Canters and three Fighters (1 x FK1025 and 2 x FK1228s) in the past two years and say the investment has paid dividends in both the reduction of repair costs and off-the-road time, and in driver comfort and safety.

“They’re just good to work out of; easy to access, the dash is well laid out, they have plenty of power and they are really comfortable to drive long distances, which reduces driver fatigue. It also makes more sense to be investing money into a new vehicle, with better safety systems and reliability than paying increasing repair and maintenance costs on older vehicles,” says James.

The 12T FK1228 features a powerful 207kW turbo diesel engine delivering 802Nm. Rear air suspension smooths the ride as does an air-suspended Isringhausen driver’s seat. Traction Control, ABS, Bluetooth and good visibility enhance safety.

Predominantly operating between Westport and Haast, James says some of the roads can be pretty hard on trucks and drivers. Having confidence that gear won’t let his customers down and that his drivers are as safe as possible is essential for his peace of mind. 

“We’re the only link to Haast from the West Coast and get three B-trains a day feeding into our [6,000m2] warehouse – anything from furniture and online shopping through to bread and beer.

“We can’t afford to have trucks off the road. Businesses rely heavily on us, especially in peak tourist season. If something breaks down, it’s at least half a day to get a rental in.

“Also, we don’t leave work at night until our last person is off the road. Our biggest fear is that one day someone won’t come home. The new trucks give us greater confidence that’s less likely to be the case.”

End-to-end service

The Grey Valley FUSO fleet is serviced at Prestige Commercial Vehicles’ Greymouth branch, of which James is also highly complimentary.

“I can’t fault the service we get from PCV; they’ll come in and sort things out for us on the yard if necessary and they always manage to fit us in. We had an issue with the transmission on one of our small trucks a while back; it drives like a European car now. The service from FUSO overall has been excellent.”

End-to-end service is what Grey Valley Couriers is all about – it always has been, but the company has come a long way since its humble origins.

“It started about 30 years ago with a Newmans bus driver, who was made redundant. A friend asked him to pick up and deliver some car parts. He loaded them in the back of his station wagon, got the job done and his friend suggested he make a business out of it – the rest is history.”

Meeting a need in the local community, Grey Valley Couriers ran two vans three times a day to Springs Junction until being taken over by the Gillmans in 2010.

“When we started out, the used gear served us well; as we’ve grown and taken on bigger contracts, we’ve looked to invest in new vehicles for greater reliability and safety.”

“The guys at FUSO and Tradesman just make it so easy for us and I can’t fault the trucks,” says James. “They arrive built to spec and ready to go. Our drivers like them too. It’s a win-win.

To ensure it keeps moving in the right direction, Grey Valley Couriers is sticking with FUSO to continue its fleet upgrade – aligning with a supplier that can match its reputation for delivering the full package, and delivering better.

 

 

Fighter FK1228

GVM: 12,000kg

Power/Torque: 207kW/802Nm

Transmission: 6spd manual

Wheelbase: 5,210mm or 5,540mm

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