FleetWatch has always stated that successful trucking revolves around relationships rather than transactions. If ever there is an example to illustrate this, it lies in the relationship between Hino SA and Transvaal Heavy Transport (THT), both legends in the trucking industry.
THT is arguably one of the longest running privately-owned transport fleets in South Africa having been established by GHJ Swanepoel in 1961 and registered as a company in 1967. Sampie Swanepoel, the son of the founder and present CEO, joined his father’s business in 1986 and has continued on the successful path walked by his father from those early days.
It was in that same year that the first Hino, a Super Dolphin, was brought into the fleet. Today, out of a total of 65 bakkies, freight carriers and truck-tractors – as well as more than 100 trailers – there are 40 Hino trucks in the fleet, with the latest additions being two 6×4 700-Series 2848 truck-tractors supplied by Hino East Rand and finished in the company’s distinctive green and red colour scheme.
The company fleet includes the full range of Hino trucks, being six Hino 300-Series/Toyota Dynas, eight 500-Series, 20 700-Series and six Super Dophins. In addition there are 10 Toyota Hilux bakkies and eight Toyota Avanza panelvans.
FleetWatch is not sure who Swanepoel dealt with on his first Hino purchase – probably the late Des Gush – but since then, Hino has had a number of changes at the top. I think of Henk Maree, Piet van Wyk de Vries, Casper Kruger and now the current vice president, Ernie Trautmann. One man who was there back in the days – and still is, albeit in different guise – is Frans Cloete, who walked a long road with the late Des Gush and is now divisional chief executive – Commercial Vehicles at Unitrans Moto.
Throughout these changes – which included the falling away of Toyota Trucks South Africa and the formation of Hino South Africa as an independent division operating in the Toyota South Africa Group – THT has stayed with the Hino marque.
Given this as background, it was therefore fitting that the latest 6×4 Hino 700-Series 2848 to be taken into the fleet was personally driven and delivered to THT’s head-office in Alrode by Trautmann, who recently obtained his Code 14 truck driving licence. He is now actively encouraging his colleagues to follow his example and obtain a heavy duty licence.
When driving into the THT yard, ‘driver Trautmann’ was warmly welcomed by Sampie Swanepoel and the handshake cemented the relationship into the future – and THT has as bright a future as it’s had a bright past.
The company specialises in abnormal loads with a wide variety of trailers that can move loads of up to 100 tons. Most of the THT customers are in the mining and construction industries but over the years THT, with its versatile fleet, has undertaken transport contracts for companies and organisations in most sectors of the local economy.
THT operates not only in South Africa, but also in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique with some contracts lasting several months, such as one in Jeffrey’s Bay where THT was responsible for transporting all the huge components for erecting a big wind farm.
The company employs about 160 people, with 60 of them being drivers and another 60 being driver assistants as the policy at the company is to allocate a driver to each specific truck so that he knows he is responsible for it in all aspects of its use, from servicing to its appearance. The older and more experienced drivers get the latest trucks. All the vehicles are fitted with C-Track tracking and telematics systems for real-time monitoring which is proving an advantage for the operations team.
Swanepoel says that in view of the comparatively short distances travelled each day by his trucks, he keeps them for between 10-15 years or one million kilometres, so durability and reliability over a long period are critical and this is one of the main reasons he is so loyal to Hino.
The THT senior executive says he has no trouble getting rid of his used trucks as they are well maintained and regularly serviced by the dealer during the warranty period and after that at the in-house workshop in Alrode. He also quotes good fuel economy and a low lifecycle cost as another reason for buying Hino trucks.
Swanepoel says that dealer support is vital in an operation such as his and on this front, he has been dealing with Hino East Rand (previously Pat Hinde Toyota Trucks) in Boksburg since he bought his first Hinos and Toyota Dynas from them in the 1980’s. Swanepoel specifically singles out Garth Middleditch as one of the stars of the helpful Hino East Rand team. Middleditch has been working in the local truck industry for more than 40 years and interacts closely with the THT fleet.
“The relationship between Hino and Sampie Swanepoel is very special and includes on-going, two-way feedback on the products he operates,” says Trautmann. “We take particular note of any criticism coming from THT and, if necessary, feed it all the way back to Hino Motors in Japan to ensure we have even better products in the future.”
Relationships – that’s what it is all about in trucking world and many would do well to remember this in the fast-moving, instant gratification world we’re living in.