Woods Transport Group: out of the woods

By: Harrison Hunkin, Photography by: Nathan Duff


A life-long relationship with Kenworth trucks – and the wider Paccar group – has been critical to the success of highly successful agribusiness enterprise Woods Group.

 

Woods Group has been working with Kenworth and the wider Paccar Group for a long time.

 

Truckies are the backbone of our great sunburnt land. They’re honest, hardworking, extremely hospitable people, and importantly, they tell it like it is.

I found these assumptions were confirmed when I ventured out to Goondiwindi, west of Brisbane, to meet Andrew Woods, director of Woods Transport (an important cog in the Woods Group agribusiness juggernaut).

And funnily enough, all of those qualities are mirrored through his fleet of Kenworth trucks, which happen to be the backbone of his business.

 

The large portion of Woods Transport’s work is export, driving from Goondiwindi to Toowoomba, then on to Brisbane

 

ABOVE AND BEYOND

Woods Group has been a ‘Kenny’ kind of business for decades. 

Andrew struggles to remember the days without a Kenworth truck in Woods livery, and that’s fair enough considering they purchased their first way back in 1972.

"My father, Tom Woods, bought our first Kenworth SAR out of Brown and Hurley Kyogle in 1972 I believe and we’ve run a mixture of various models of Kenworth ever since," he recalls.


Steve Brooks headed out to Kyogle in 2018 to talk with retiring Brown & Hurley directors Rob Brown and Kevin Hurley. Check out the story here


For decades, Woods Transport has prided itself on its reputation for quality and delivery excellence. And without sounding clichéd, you could assume that the Woods Group has garnered this reputation on the back of hard work, their Kenworth rigs and a decades-old relationship with Kenworth dealership, Brown and Hurley.

To this day, Woods Transport purchases new Kenworth rigs through Brown and Hurley’s Kyogle branch.

Now, that’s tradition! And it’s heaped full of trust and respect, and as Andrew Woods points out, the relationship with Brown and Hurley is essential.

"The relationship with Brown Hurley is crucial to our sustainability, longevity and investment choice," he explains.

"While it’s an atrocious road and place to get to (Kyogle), the quality of the people down there are great and held in high regard by our family in our business.

"The strength of their network certainly enables us to have confidence in the Kenworth product.

"Without a good personal relationship with that dealer network then it does throw into question your purchasing choices so to speak."

 

Woods Transport purchases new Kenworth rigs through Brown and Hurley’s Kyogle branch. Kenworths have been the truck of choice for Woods Group since the early ‘70s

 

SILVER SERVICE

The relationship between Woods Transport and Brown and Hurley spans much further than just the handover of a new vehicle.

More recently, Woods Transport has teamed up with the Toowoomba Brown and Hurley branch for all of its servicing and maintenance needs.

Andrew says this isn’t just because they are neighbours in Toowoomba, they supply good service as well.

"They are physically just through the fence," he says. "And although we’ve got to drive around the corner and up the street, they do a fantastic job of servicing all our gear not only just the trucks but the trailers as well – they carry all the parts."

And the availability of Paccar parts within close proximity through Brown and Hurley is extremely important for Woods Transport.

"We ourselves aren’t carrying a lot of Paccar parts, but that is the benefit of our relationship with Brown and Hurley – they’ve got full access to Paccar parts either on their own shelves or within close proximity to a dealership, so generally speaking parts aren’t an issue for us," he says.

Woods and Brown and Hurley also share software with each other to deliver "full transparency". They also share GPS tracking, which Brown and Hurley monitor in order to know where Woods trucks are located or if they’re due for service. Quite the operation.

Andrew believes that this kind of in-depth service enables him to have confidence in the Kenworth product. 

"So we’ve got a very good relationship with Brown and Hurley Toowoomba service division and very happy with that," he adds. But, when vehicle issues arise at short notice, which is
certainly not uncommon for transport companies, Woods will call upon Brown and Hurley’s Darra branch near Brisbane.

Woods Transport leases and rents Kenworths and DAFs from their rental fleet when the unexpected happens.

Through a point of contact at Brown and Hurley Darra, Woods Transport are able at to get an extra vehicle put into the fleet, whether that be a DAF or any other make or model of Kenworth at short notice.

"It’s pure convenience," Andrew explains. "The convenience during a breakdown or at peak times where you may not be able to get a sub-contractor in to help but you’ve got a surplus of trailers and you want to just hook up some prime movers to them and go and get the job done.

"To be able to get a vehicle into our fleet is a great tool to have," he adds, "and it’s a tool we use quite often and works really well."

 

All of Woods Transport’s trucks are fitted with GPS tracking, shared with dealer Brown and Hurley, which monitors service needs

 

PERFECT MATCH

Woods Transport is currently running a fleet mainly made up of Kenworth T659 day cabs to suit container freight needs.

The large portion of Woods’ work is export, which sees the fleet drive between its headquarters in Goondiwindi to Toowoomba, then on to Brisbane.

Andrew uses a term called "Up-Country Packer" to describe what the industry calls the family business. It means they’re not on the wharf or close to the infrastructure of shipping
ports to pack.

So, they require quality vehicles on the road; vehicles that are able to optimise payloads between Goondiwindi and Brisbane. Woods is able to do that via different combinations with vehicles.

"[Our trucks] can have specifications to pull three trailers, but also have the ability to hook under an A-double on a different set of permits and to fit within that configuration to run into the port of Brisbane," says Andrew.

"We’re around 360-370 km from Brisbane, so we have the element of distance and time in most cases working against us to meet our shipments."

And as is the story of Australian transport, the tyranny of distance is one of the biggest issues.

"If we’ve got a vehicle that stands up to that challenge, well then we’re on the way to delivering on our promise to our customers.

"It’s for all these reasons that we use Kenworth because they are a superior vehicle and completely custom built to what we need and what we want, and that’s very important," Andrew explains. "Kenworth are a solid, robust product, custom-built to our needs and over the course of time have stood up to those needs."

Woods Transport does also have a few DAFs buzzing around to suit stock food deliveries and other local work.

Andrew mentioned he has been impressed by Kenworth’s European cousins since adding them to his lineup.

 

Woods Transport runs various combinations, with specifications to pull three trailers and hook under an A-double if needed

 

KENWORTH CLAN

The Woods Group story started in the early ‘50s when the family commenced production of winter and summer crops on its original Billa Billa property in southern Queensland.

Woods Group is much more than just transport. It’s one of Queensland’s biggest agribusinesses.

The family enterprise expanded into grain storage, to complement its farming properties scattered around the east coast; from Townsville to Emerald, to Goondiwindi, Moree, Dubbo and Leeton, growing everything from wheat, barley, sorghum, desi and kabuli chickpeas, fava beans and mung beans, just to name a few.

It’s even joined the ‘paddock-to-plate’ movement since launching a range of air-puffed fava bean snacks back in 2017.

 

Not a confessed Kenny nerd, Woods Transport director Andrew Woods nonetheless still holds them in high regard

 

NO NERD

With so much passion for what he does and the machines he uses, I thought perhaps Andrew was a Kenworth geek.

"No, I wouldn’t refer to myself as a Kenworth nerd," he jokes.

"While I love Kenworth trucks, at the end of the day I’ve got to make money out of them, hence the decision to invest in them. But a nerd no, I’d like to be a nerd at something other than trucks."

He quickly chimes in with a wink, "That’s not to diminish the importance of the Kenworths in my life."

That importance goes for much of his immediate family as well, which also share a liking for Kenworths.

"There’re a lot of keen truckies within our family and love talking the spec sheet of a good Kenworth.

"But yeah I love a trip in the truck, a Coca-Cola out of the Engel fridge between the seats and life’s pretty sweet.

"Kenworths are absolutely the best truck for our business."

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