The genesis of the Arrow Logistics operation has seen Ian Forster, working as a barman in a pub in Toowoomba, building a standalone load allocation system on a mobile phone for his trucks and a large group of subcontractors. A friend of his from Clifton had asked him to help out with his transport business.
“I ended up learning the trade of how to organise trucks,” says Ian. “He always said to me, don’t ever get your truck license. He wanted me to just focus on organising and to do what I was good at. If you start driving, you will start going on trips and then you will get distracted.
“Over the years we have bought two AB-triples and a couple of sets of road train trailers, I just don’t know how to use them that’s all. When I was 18, I was advised that I should always look for someone who is better than me at something. I always knew that I would be in my own business eventually.”
The operation for which Ian was working in Clifton began getting into financial difficulties and Ian moved on to a transport operation in Millmerran, doing the same job and organising the transport. This was his first experience with building up a sub contractor base for a transport operation. Unfortunately, the drought in 2010 hit them hard and Ian was made redundant.
The growth in the business has been largely organic and the operation has developed as the work has come along. There was a long period where they were handling around 12 loads a day and now the average is around 20 loads a day.
Although most of the work is based out of Queensland and New South Wales, there is regular work in an out of Melbourne and occasional work into South Australia and Western Australia. The system itself has no limits to his geographical cover in Australia.
“We are just about to have a very big harvest in NSW, so expect some big numbers in the next few months,” says Ian. “All of our growth has been fairly organic so far, we haven’t done any real marketing, other than a few Facebook posts. We are still setting carriers up onto the system and probably getting about 10 new operators every month.
“This means we are starting to cover more and more ground and make things better for more and more companies. A big selling point is that we have a mobile job board, so that they can see at a glance where the nearest load is. The driver can simply click on their iPhone and see what work we have available.
“It’s helping drivers to link up with loads, when they have loads of their own, they can look what we are doing and try and tie it in with their own work.”
As with many areas of the trucking business in Australia, there are always new operators coming into a particular region and competitive rates are offered in an attempt to win some work. Ian has seen a number of competitors come and go over the years, but, after building a standalone load allocation system, points to the consistency in the way that the Arrow platform works.
“Grain traders love this system because they can log into our website and reconcile dockets and registrations as the work is happening,” says Ian. “Whereas with other systems and other operators they may have to wait a week or two. We just try and make it as easy as possible for each end user.
“The system is quite expensive to run and there is one thing I have discovered and that is that software is not cheap and there are quite often little bugs. Overall, I have had excellent feedback, because it was created within the industry, so I knew exactly what was needed.”