Used Truck: Andy's Western Star Sidelifter


Andy Sidelifter 001 Andy Sidelifter 001

There is only one in Alice Springs and the only one for thousands of square kilometers and the owner is very proud of it. Andy Hill owns and operates the only sidelifter in Alice Springs and the surrounding 750kms.

Operating Central Australian Sidelifter Haulage, C A S H. Andy has been in Alice Springs for three years and his business continues to grow.

"I love the country! It has it’s drawbacks like anywhere but from what I can see going on around this town, this will only continue to improve" smiles Andy "there is plenty of work. If anyone is keen to have a go, people here will give them the opportunity. If you get on and have a real go, they will look after you really well."

Andy first went to the Territory at 15 as an itinerant. He worked around Alice as a ringer and doing odd jobs for eight years. After returning to Melbourne, Andy worked on the wharves, getting a start with Hoffmann’s Transport. After eight years there, Andy began working at agencies, ending up with K&S.

"I came up to Alice and worked for NTFS, part of the Scott Group. I loved the lifestyle but thought things could be done better, so let’s show them!" recalls Andy with a laugh "I went to finance companies and did all the paperwork and got the money I needed. All I had to do was spend it!!"

Starting the Business

On the 5th May 2005, Andy went down to Melbourne, jumped into a Western Star and picked up the sidelifter. It took Andy six weeks to get the unit out of Melbourne.

Andy Sidelifter 003

"The sidelifter wasn’t quite what it was meant to be. There was a bit of yelling and carrying on, but we got through it! We painted it and did a heap of work on it too. It’s actually been traded in and I will pick up a brand new one in June or July."

Andy’s Western Star was originally a company truck for Bon MacArthur. It was involved in a crash, Andy didn’t know how bad it was when he purchased it from Select Trucks in Campbellfield. A mate of Andy’s, a mechanic by trade, found the Western Star and told Andy that this was the truck to buy. It was as simple as that.

"It’s only a light truck when compared to the other big rigs around town. With its C12 Cat engine, it handles the work well. It turned over one million Miles (1.6 million k’s) last November, It’s absolutely economical when compared to the triple rated rigs, I’m getting around two kms per litre." says Andy.

"When I got back to Alice Springs, I had less than zero dollars in the bank and the credit cards were maxed out! We just showed up and had a go. It started off slowly, I did anything and everything and things slowly happened. We had a bit of help from a few local people around here, they have all been paid and rewarded. Everything is good! We do anything, but the sidelifter and container sales are the mainstay of the business."

Today, Andy does a store run out to two Aboriginal communities every Wednesday. Andy has a couple of fridge vans and has recently purchased a dolly and forklift.

"Things are starting to hook along a bit. The debt is getting bigger; it’s good isn’t it? You just have to swim faster!" laughs Andy.

Switching to Containers

Container sales have steadily increased, with a lot of local people and businesses in and around Alice Springs starting to support the sidelifter. Andy has made containers more available to everyday people. He has found that today people want to move on their own.

Andy Sideilfter 001a

"They come and buy a container, load it up and we send it where ever they need to go. They see the benefit of how easy, quick and simple the Sidelifter can be. It does a fair bit of bush work which isn’t good for it but we get through, it’s all good!"

If the sidelifter gets quiet, there is quite a bit of general freight for Andy to do. As he says, he has no boundaries. Andy will go from the wharf in Brisbane to the wharf in Perth if he has to.

"I think the transport task is going to grow and grow, hopefully with containers" he continues "If things had not worked out, I was quite prepared to go back to Melbourne. Now we’re settled, the whole family has settled in; the wife and two children, two horses, one dog, now I have commitments!"

On the day we caught up with Andy, it was an easier day. Some days, Andy will get into the Star at 6am and won’t get out again until five that afternoon. Other days, people will wander in or ring up and want to buy containers. In the quiet times, Andy keeps on top of the maintenance.

"If you don’t do it, you could end up out there in the desert somewhere and find yourself in a very unhappy situation, a long way from anywhere."

While working with K&S, Andy gained a fairly good perception of maintenance procedures and OH&S. Andy has always been very particular with his equipment. He knows what has to be done, rather than being someone who cuts corners and just doesn’t do things right; this leads to an unsafe working environment. Andy keeps to a strict proactive maintenance regime rather than a reactive one.

All Good Fun

Andy’s professional attitude is a far cry from his early days in the transport game!

Andy Sidelifter 005

"I got my license north of here. It was out in the scrub and I was only 17. I was driving trucks around and the local bush coppers came along and asked to see my license. It was only a learner’s permit, so he said that I would have to fix that. So he sat there and gave me a question sheet and the answer sheet and the job was done!!! Don’t do anything wrong until you are 21, or I will take it off you he warned. I got everything, lock, stock and barrel, roadtrains, motorbikes, buses, the whole lot! It was all good fun back then!!" he recalls with a chuckle.

"It has been a challenge, but I have loved every minute of it, simply because of the challenge. I am happy with what I have achieved so far but I can see so much more to be done. You have to have goals. If you don’t have goals, then you don’t achieve! Right now, every day is a good day and I hope it will get better and better.

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