Coming clean: Container Fumigation Services

As a niche essential business, Container Fumigation Services in Melbourne is dependent on quality commercial vehicles. The challenges of a tough 2020 have been counterweighed, in part, by an informed recent investment in four new MAN trucks.

Containers arriving in Australia from overseas ports are subject to biosecurity requirements and procedures to ensure the threat of exotic pests and diseases are eliminated during their clearance.

This also applies to the goods they carry by federal law. Container Fumigation Services (CFS) based out of Spotswood in Melbourne, has been immersed in this segment since it was founded by Greg Ross, a Director of the company, on 6 March 1996. In essence the company is taking containers off the wharf as allocated, cleaning them before readying each for approval through quarantine.

The company was started on the strength of a tip Greg received that quarantine laws regarding port operators would be extended outside of the five-kilometre perimeter. On the premise that customers he had unloaded for previously would bring him containers, Greg set about securing a depot. With that the business purchased a second-hand Mack from an auction — the company’s first. Mobile equipment was acquired under this model for the first few years as they built up business which went from good to better. Over the ensuing years CFS has put together an impressive client base that now includes the likes of ACFS Port Logistics, Seacom, SunRice, John Deere and QANTAS.

However, hire trucks required to satisfy the urgent tasks that were going unfulfilled by incidents of broken-down second-hand vehicles were fast proving costly.

“We got sick of putting mounds of money into bloody repairs, hire trucks and having them parked up at great expense,” Greg says. “It was decided with my business partner that it was time to buy a new truck. I went around to every manufacturer and got the rundown on all of them.”
It resulted in a month’s worth of data and engineering specifications to calculate. The criteria for evaluating the best truck for their needs started at price. As that was negligible in range when applied to most other brands being considered, the evaluation entered the next set of criteria as Greg and his transport operations manager, Neil Ryan, deliberated on the significant indicators of performance, service and backup.

“There’s only ever a tuppence between most of the commercial vehicles you are considering in this sort of purchase process,” says Greg. “Once you start to settle on certain factors like servicing and backup things come into sharper focus.”

The first service of 70,000 kilometres at MAN soon got their attention while the parameters around backup, in which a hire truck was also provided by Penske Truck Rental, along with the impression made by MAN dealer Jarrod Bennetts of Westar Truck Centre, who was easy to get along with according to Greg, eventually won them over. Knowing they would have had to service their vehicles at least three times before hitting 70,000 kilometres and accessing a hire truck at no charge to keep the business running without suffering in any way, imbued the prospective buyers with a newfound confidence they had made the right choice.