It’s not often that you get second chances in life, so when Ben Harris and Suzanne Magro got the opportunity to re-boot their waste collection service last year in South Australia, they didn’t think twice – and Adelaide Liquid Waste Solutions was born.
The story began four years ago in 2017, when Harris and Magro sold their previous sewer waste pumping and treatment business, Septic Pumping Services, to an international waste giant.
Operating 11 trucks and known as local specialists in that field, selling the company was never the plan; they had carved-out a successful business and enjoyed their work. But Harris and Magro appreciate that opportunities don’t come knocking every day and signed-off a deal.
It wasn’t too long before that international operation left Adelaide, leaving a hole in the market and customers without a reliable waste collection service. Putting their industry knowledge back into action, Magro and Harris started Adelaide Liquid Waste, purchasing four, fresh-off-the-floor Isuzu trucks to round-out their fleet.
Two FRR 100-260’s have been fitted out with Hyva four-tonne cranes with an eight metre reach, allowing the team to get in close for portable toilet collection and delivery services.
A medium-duty FTR 165-260 and FXZ 240-350, both with vacuum tank bodies, offer customers a reliable liquid waste pumping service.
With the help of North East Isuzu and expert body-builders, North East Engineering and Blade Engineering, Harris and Magro built each of their new trucks to exact specifications, safe in the knowledge that the engine, transmission and chassis configurations worked well for their application.
“We always found that when our vacuum tanks were located right behind the cab’s headboard, there was too much weight across the front axle,”said Harris.
“I spent quite a bit of time with Darren from North East Isuzu working out the best weight distribution for the FRRs, and we created space on either side of the tank for transporting portable toilets, with the crane situated at the very rear of the tray.
“Our drivers love this because they can get in close without having to do any manual delivery of the toilets.
“The FTR and FXZ tankers are a big hit with our drivers too, because they’re so easy to use. Basically, all they need to do is pull up to the site, roll out the hose and operate the control panel at the back of the truck, which kicks the hydraulic pump into gear.”
With truck specifics nailed down, Magro and Harris’s next point of action was coming up with a design that would catch the eye and drum up business. They settled on a sleek matte grey paint and logo that has gained them wanted attention.
“In Adelaide, septic trucks don’t have a great image. Some operators tend not to look after them because it’s not a particularly glamorous industry.
“We make sure our trucks are washed every weekend and take pride in the way they look, and we know it translates into sales. We definitely want to channel that pride and good energy into our new business.”
Within their first three months of operation last year, Adelaide Liquid Waste signed some major commercial contracts and couldn’t be busier heading into 2021.
But a champion player needs a champion team, and an experienced driver roster keeps the operation on track, Magro explained.
“We referred the drivers that worked for us in the original business to the international buyer… but they’ve all since come back to work for us at Adelaide Liquid Waste,” she said. “These drivers are like the A-Team. They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re amazing at what they do. When we bought the business the first time around, Ben and I had no idea about liquid waste – the drivers taught us everything. They’ve stayed with us the whole way through, even in our new venture, so we’re incredibly grateful for that.”
With such loyal staff behind them, Magro and Harris wanted to reward the team with the best in comfort and safety – which is why they chose Isuzu Trucks as their transport partner.
“The drivers love these trucks,” Magro noted. “They tell me the F Series models are so smooth to drive, it’s just like driving a car… and we normally don’t get comments like that regarding trucks. With all the new technology and features, the ride is so much more comfortable, they’re just better for bodies that are on the road all day.”
Harris explained the new fleet was based on more than Isuzu’s good reputation; it was the trucks’ capability on the job and the aftercare guarantee – leading to whole-of-life cost savings for the business – that sealed the deal.
“I’ve driven a lot of different trucks, including some other Japanese brands. My personal preference is Isuzu,” Harris said. “The dealership is close by and they always look after us with servicing or breakdowns. But most importantly the trucks are reliable. In a business like ours, you can’t have downtime; it just can’t happen. Reliability is key, working hand-in-hand with what we do. We rate ourselves as running a first-class business at Adelaide Liquid Waste, so our trucks need to be on the same page.”