As one of the most important areas for growing fresh produce in Australia, hauling out of the Riverina is home to a large number of operators with a wide variety of local produce on board. Diesel News talks to one of those operators at JDP Logistics.
Arriving at the Riverina can often come as a surprise. You can be driving through dry cattle country, which hasn’t seen much rain in a long time and then, when passing over a small rise, you’re in a green and vibrant landscape with every kind of fruit being grown in large well-kept paddocks.
The irrigation systems of the area have meant that large sections of the country close to the Murrumbidgee River have become one of the food bowls of Australia. All of this produce has to be exported from the region, hence a large number of transport companies specialising in hauling various farm-related products from this large rural area to the major metropolises.
One of these operations goes under the name of JDP Logistics, based in Leeton, in between Griffith and Wagga Wagga, close to the Murrumbidgee River itself. This operation has carved out a niche for itself hauling local produce out of the area to the capital cities, mainly Melbourne and Sydney, plus occasionally Brisbane.
Jono DePaoli has been working in the trucking industry since he was 16, for over twenty-five years. Like many rural operators he likes to run what he would call ‘good gear’, and was proud to display his latest acquisition, a Western Star 4900, at the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association Conference in Griffith earlier this year.
He has always been involved in hauling out of the Riverina, his first experience was working as a tyre fitter in his father’s business, also located in Leeton. After graduating to work in the transport yard, he then went on to working in the transport operations office. In fact, he still does work for his father, George DePaoli, but also likes the idea of running his own race.
Over 10 years ago Jono came up with a long-term goal to develop the JDP Logistics business as an entity which he could develop for his family as something he could build and pass onto the next generation over time. As a result of having a foot in two camps, he’s walking around with two mobile phones. He also has his mother helping out with bookkeeping.
After starting out with just one truck, the fleet has grown. There have been changes over time moving from conventionals to cabovers and then back to conventional trucks.
The tasks handled by the fleet hauling out of the Riverina are many and varied, from some general freight, all the way to commodities like rice and then refrigerated van work, including meat and chicken. With this amount of variation in the freight carried, JDP Logistics is like many operators in rural areas, carrying a wide variety of trailers to cope with seasonal variations in the freight task in the local area.
“We’ve been getting a bit of steady work with our refrigerated vans from a mob in Griffith, which is pretty good,” says Jono.” That keeps the boys pretty busy. I only used to run singles, I tried a B-double once before and it didn’t work with what we’re doing. I went back to singles again, but we’re trying a B-double again. One of my drivers actually asked if he could try the bigger truck.
“So far so good, it’s working well. We only use 32 pallet trailers, because we have conventional prime movers. I see a lot of the big companies are now running these 36 pallet trailers, but I’m concerned about driver comfort and I want to have a bonnet on the front.”