Trading tools for truckin’

By: Cobey Bartels

Former diesel fitter Brenton Bugeja, better known as ‘Budgie’, has changed his tune of the choice of North American or European trucks


Brenton ‘Budgie’ Bugeja and partner Jess Schafer

Mackay-based diesel fitter Brenton ‘Budgie’ Bugeja felt like a change of scenery, so he traded the tools for the cab of a truck – a decision he couldn’t be happier with!

Brenton now operates Budgie’s Hot Shots, a general freight business running equipment and supplies to coal mines around the Bowen Basin.

"I’m actually a diesel fitter and I just sort of wanted a sea change. I guess you’d call it that!" he tells Deals On Wheels.

From there, Budgie’s Hot Shots was born, a similar name to Brenton’s diesel fitting business, but a change of scenery it certainly was.

"Budgie is of course my nickname and my previous business was called Budgies Diesel Solutions, so we did have to change the name a bit!

"Hot Shots sees us delivering equipment and materials to the Bowen Basin, but I’ve done Miles, I’ve gone down into New South Wales, we’ll go wherever they want the equipment."

With 800,000 kilometres on the MAN TGL 12.250 4x2 that came with the business, Brenton had a decision to make before pouring any more money into the old steed.

"When I bought the business it came with an older MAN and it was a matter of whether I keep pushing it to its limits or get rid of it and buy a new truck," he explains.  

Brenton Bugeja opted for a new MAN TGM 15.290 4x2 for this hot shot business


After seeing the team at Penske in Mackay, Brenton decided to stick with the MAN brand and upgrade to a new TGM 15.290 4x2 with a flat tray.

"I didn’t used to think I’d go near European stuff as a diesel fitter, but honestly after owning them the reliability and how much they costs to run – I wouldn’t go near anything else for this kind of work," he says.

"If was going to go on dirt roads of course the American stuff is good for that – but for what I do the comfort and economy of the MAN is great."

Brenton is no stranger to North American trucks either, with a family history in transport and most of those miles done in bonneted bangers.

"Look, my brother has all American trucks and my father drove Volvos early on and then drove American. I was around American trucks the whole time," he tells us.

"The difference is they do dirt roads and tougher stuff, whereas I’m on good roads and I can get a better deal on a European truck that does what I want and has a great warranty and fuel economy. 

"If someone came to me and said, ‘should I buy a European truck? I’d ask them what they planned to do with it. If they were pulling B-triples down the road pulling cows, or are they going to drive down the highway – it depends on what you’re going to do and for me the MAN was the ideal fit." 

From a comfort perspective, Brenton reckons the new MAN is pretty hard to beat. He even went as far as to compare it to an Italian supercar!

"I can get out of my truck and my insides are still intact, my back is in one piece, that new one of mine even with no weight up back rides like a Ferrari."

Brenton has been clocking up a fair bit of mileage on the new truck and he says the fuel savings have been a pleasant surprise.

"The fuel is unreal on the new MAN," he says.

"I drive an average of 4,000 to 5,000 kilometres every week, so I’m really happy with the fuel efficiency." 

Comfort was important when it came to Brenton’s choice of truck


While Brenton is fairly new to the transport game himself, he’s been around it long enough to know what goes into succeeding.

"What I’ve got, it’s a good contract and while of course that’s no guarantee – I always do my best to look after the customer," he says.

"If they call me up at 1am on Saturday or Sunday morning, I go at 1am that morning. 

"A lot of people might not do that, but I do it. My life revolves around the business and I don’t have much of a life at the moment outside of that. 

"The mines operate 24/7, so you’ve got to go when they need you and I’m willing to do that."

The plan for Brenton is to expand the operation, adding versatility to his fleet and continuing to offer around-the-clock dependability. 

"I have three one-tonne utes for the smaller deliveries, be it an envelope in the front seat, or a 300kg pallet in the tray.

"From here I’m actually in the process of looking at a tilt tray, about a 10-tonne payload, with bogie-drive axle and the versatility that comes with that. I can throw a little bobcat on the back, or still take a 7-tonne cylinder on the back.

"Ultimately I’d like to keep expanding things in the years to come; that’s the plan."

Brenton’s partner Jess Schafer is also a big part of the business, driving utes as well as looking after the bookwork.

When asked if he’d recommend the transport game to other tradesmen thinking of trading the tools for the wheel of a truck, Brenton’s advice was pretty simple.

"If someone’s thinking of a change of career like me, I’d definitely say make sure it’s what you want to do.

"Best of luck because, look, if you want a walk in the park, transport is not the thing to get into.

"It’s probably one of the hardest things you can do."

That didn’t deter Brenton, whose pride and customer focus sets Budgie’s Hot Shots apart. 

"I take pride in what I do in the transport industry – my trucks always clean and I do the best job I can, every day. I really do enjoy it."

2020.05.01 Budgies Diesel Solutions, Penske Truck (8).jpg

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