Established in 1898, L. Arthur Transport Services is one of Melbourne’s oldest privately owned transport companies. “We’re currently in the 4th generation of family management;” says Managing Director Vincent Arthur. “My great grandfather was the company founder, and we’ve been running within the family since then.” With the original L. Arthur never holding a driver’s licence, the business primarily made use of horse and carts for the first 30 years since its founding. The company has since built upon its reputation for reliability to become a leading integrated logistics service provider.
Arthur is one of the few transport companies in Victoria that offers a full range of services, including wharf cartage, which focuses on shipping cargo in and out of Melbourne, heavy haulage and machinery relocation, which involves large trucks, floats, and other specialised equipment to handle heavy gauge assignments, warehouse and distribution services, and the state’s largest quarantine depot.
There are two markets that L. Arthur works within; the industry based in the port of Melbourne, Australia’s largest container port, and the specialised transport sector, which involves floats, cranes, forklifts, and dealing with specialised consignments. “That’s a small market,” says Vincent, “but with Melbourne being the centre of manufacturing activity within Australia, it has also become the centre of most specialised cargo activity.”
Arthur has established a company-wide environmental policy, and has put numerous procedures in place to limit the impact that its equipment has upon the environment. “All businesses these days have to operate responsibly, and hold themselves accountable for their impact upon the environment,” Mr Arthur says, “Should there be an incident such as an oil spill, we have procedures and engineering controls in place to limit that.” Vincent also points out that the increasingly stringent nature of transport truck permission standards has also begun to yield positive results. “It’s gotten to the point now that new trucks have very low emission levels,” he says. “There have been significant advancements in technology to meet these emission requirements.”
The maintenance of occupational health and safety standards has long stood as the company’s highest priority. “Keeping people safe is the number one responsibility for any employer,” Vincent says, “so we have an externally accredited safety system, as well as a safety compliance department with 3 staff members. From my point of view, as the head of the company, there’s nothing more important than safety, and we’ve invested a lot of money into the systems and resources that we’ve put in place.”
Vincent feels that close ties with industry associations are critically important within the transport sector. “We’re members of the Victorian Transport Association, and our business has been involved with it since its formation almost 100 years ago,” he says. “It’s an important way for participants in the industry to learn from one another, and to have somebody who can be a voice for the industry, and advocate on behalf of it.” Mr Arthur also emphasises the need for strong relationships with suppliers, not only in terms of materials and parts, but labour as well. “If you don’t have those relationships, your business can’t function.”
The comprehensive nature of L. Arthur’s safety systems is a crowning achievement both for Vincent, and the business as a whole. After initially implementing (SafetyMap), a Victorian WorkSafe endorsed safety system, the company recently made the decision to upgrade to ISO 18001 safety accreditation. “We’re very proud of that achievement,” Mr Arthur says. “I feel that it stands as our greatest external accreditation.”
Compliance to overcomplicated regulations has grown to become one of the greatest burdens placed upon the transport industry. “While it’s right to have high expectations of the sector in terms of the interaction between heavy vehicles and the public on the roads, and it is a very significant and potentially dangerous area that needs to be regulated, I think that it’s important to find the balance between red tape and bureaucracy, and meaningful regulations,” says Vincent. “I’m not sure that that’s been totally achieved.”
Before taking on the role of L. Arthur’s Managing Director in 2003, Vincent Arthur worked for 10 years in the Strategy and Planning division of Rio Tinto, a large mining company. Looking to the future, Vincent’s plans are to continue to utilise L. Arthur’s preeminent position opposite the port of Melbourne to further expand the business.