As a single float operator, Mount Gambier based Winterfields Float Hire needs a heavy haulage unit that is sufficiently versatile to be able to carry a wide variety of loads. Diesel spoke with the company’s owner, Matty Winterfield.
A Mount Gambier native, Matty has been driving trucks for around 25 years, having previously been a diesel mechanic after completing an apprenticeship in the trade. He has been running his own show for the past 11 years.
His first driving job in the mid ‘90s was with forestry company K.C & M.R. Boult, initially hauling B-double loads of woodchips and logs, then later transitioning to float work after the company bought a Drake tri-axle Deck widener to shift its woodchippers and log harvesting equipment.
Matty soon settled into the role and started organising extra work with other companies to keep the float busy; then after about 15 years with this company the forestry industry experienced a step change, forcing him to weigh up his options.
“The bluegum plantation timber was starting to come online and the boss secured a contract hauling the logs and needed me to do this instead of the float work,” says Matty. “But I was really happy doing the float work for him and had built up a loyal customer base that I didn’t want to lose.”
The upshot was that after much amicable discussion to and fro, neither party was prepared to budge, so with his former boss’s blessing Matty headed off into the realm of the heavy haulage owner operator.
He purchased a second-hand tri-axle full widener and dolly and an ex-K&S Freighters Ford LTL9000 powered by a 400 Cummins and was instantly flat out servicing the customer base he’d built up with his erstwhile employer.
As time went by, machinery got bigger and he took on more customers, necessitating the replacement of the trusty LTL with another ex-K&S unit, a considerably more powerful Kenworth T904 that had been hauling road trains in WA.
“That was a really good truck too but we were still getting busier so I started talking to Drake and we were soon the proud owners of our first new Drake Hybrid 4×4 float, and a second-hand K104B to pull it,” says Matty.
He employed driver Peter ‘Darky’ O’Dea, who is still a highly valued employee today, to drive the cab-over while he continued driving the T904, eventually replacing the tired full widener with another hybrid trailer, a unit pretty much identical to the original one. Sometime later the Kenworths were progressively supplanted by a pair of Scania R 730s and the business continued to flourish.
One of the keys to the success of Winterfields Float Hire is diversity, with Matty describing the company’s mantra as ‘you name it, we haul it’. This includes everything from grape harvesters to rock crushing plants, wood-chippers, tree harvesters, dozers, earthmoving machinery and agricultural equipment.
“We have some really good clients around the Mount who are very loyal to us,” says Matty. “We do a fair bit of truck recovery work for the likes of Cummins, Daimler Trucks and O. G. Roberts, it’s probably easier to tell you who we don’t work for.”