From the earliest he can remember, trucks have always
been a passion for Les.
As a young boy growing up in Taupiri which was a rural hub for transport for the North Waikato it became easy to be a part of it.
At the age of 15 Les started work at the freezing works in Horotiu and worked there for 15 years until he left and bought a small truck off Davies transport and started his driving career.
He worked at Davies Transport as an owner driver for 5 years and then left and went out and formed Les Harrison Transport Ltd incorporating crane trucks into his business.
One of the greatest hurdles the company has faced over the years has been the ongoing battle to educate clients and potential customers of the value of a truck that can lift and carry.
This process of education, and subsequent proving of the value of the one vehicle to carry and then lift, has paid dividends in the long run with a significant client base now catered for by the Harrison organisation .
The first expansion came when Les convinced a local building supplies company to sell him their crane truck, as he knew he could run their truck more efficiently and save them money in the process. The truck, an eight wheeler Hino in Acorn colours, was acquired in 1999 and Les's eldest son Mark came to work with his father
Over time the variety of work has increased, and now the company can be found carting building materials, concrete products, containers and just about anything that can be delivered by a crane on the back of a truck.
Whilst the flush of the house building boom may have passed, there are still numerous other new opportunities that the company is both exploring and taking advantage of, especially around the farming and commercial sectors, concrete product delivery, and some inter branch transfers for a major client, have become more important. The company also delivers and places water tanks, septic tanks, troughs and the like. Les maintains that a few minutes spent assessing the site, checking where the item is to be placed and ensuring any foundation or footing is firm, flat and level, saves thousands in potential damage claims.
With the start up of the container business, there was a need to deliver the containers and often a crane truck can be overkill for this type of work.
It was also inefficient to have crane trucks shuttling containers, from yards in Auckland, up and down the road. A better solution was the addition of a container distribution arm with dedicated container handling equipment.
The container distribution side operates trucks, with swing lift capability, quad, skelly and b-train trailers employed on container moves. Whilst designated to handle the company's in house requirements, the trucks are also found working for other customers servicing their needs as well.
Staffing is one area where Les seems to thrive and one he sees that requires good communications.
He has sound work policies in place and he has high, but not unrealistic, expectations of his staff. Drivers are given greater responsibility than in many other operations and in doing this gives them a sense of ownership which shows in the professionalism in the manner the work is carried out.
Once they arrive on site they have to contact the site manager and find out exactly what they are required to achieve, and when they have done this they must ensure they can comfortably accomplish the job without risk to themselves or anybody else on site. Les makes sure he has all the necessary equipment (normal or specialised) to ensure the job can be finished safely and without damage to the product.
With technology advancing so has LHT Groups introduction of this technology to better their business.
GPS vehicle tracking system has allowed for accurate vehicle reporting on progress times and undeniable reports for customers with pickup or delivery times and playback ability to allow them to track the vehicles progress.
This has taken all emotion out of it any issues and leaves us dealing with just the facts as recorded. Several of our contract customers are also using our system it to enhance their own operation and in turn LHTs. lt has also been able to inform management of driver behaviours towards speed and driving habits which now can be dealt with on the spot and feedback made to customer and driver. Inroads also are being made towards a new electronic scheduling system with MDT's fitted in the trucks to allow them to receive and send despatch data for messaging and so that the jobs can be processed and rated almost immediately they have been completed.
With these enhancements LHT Group is striving for better productivity which boils down to lower running costs and this shows in competitive pricing for all its customers.Whilst times might be getting tougher for some companies, Les seems to be ploughing head on, determined not to let any events over-run his transport business, Attitude, a strong drive, communications skills, and a good group of people seem to be making the difference for this Waikato operator. As they say, from small acorns come mighty oak trees.