Taxis to trucks: Apinder's success story
Adelaide-based Apinder Deol has seen his fair share of speedbumps on the road to growing Move In Removals and Truck Rentals into successful transport operations.
Apinder, more commonly known as Deol, is originally from the Punjab region of Northern India, but after seeing an uncertain future for his retail shoe business he made the leap down under.
"There weren’t many employment opportunities around Adelaide then," Deol said.
"But I saw an opening to drive taxis, so I got my licence and went to work."
Deol shifted positions to Toll IPEC in 2010 where he sub-contracted as a courier, an experience he attributes to a lot of his subsequent success.
He bought his own truck with the money saved from driving taxis, which gave him an idea to follow a new opportunity.
"I saw that the other employees were doing the same work as me, only they were renting their trucks," Deol said.
"So I started investing my money in buying trucks for them – as a rental opportunity."
This was the beginning of a company Deol would eventually take across the border to Melbourne and expand into the removal business as well.
But while this sounds like a simple case of hard work and business acumen leading directly to easy street, the real story reveals some hard-won lessons and rare perseverance.
"I faced a big loss when I was in Adelaide," Deol said.
"Someone told me there was a solid opportunity investing in bigger trucks, so I went for it – bought three and put them into a company.
"Then the company went bankrupt and I lost everything. It was a very difficult time."
Deol didn’t dwell in this rough period however, bouncing back within a couple of years and pushing to even greater heights.
"In 2013 I started again, doing it all by myself.
"I knew how to work and what I had to do, and I knew I had the contacts.
"From that base I’ve built up two sides of the business: removals and truck rentals.
"We have two offices – one in Adelaide and one in Melbourne – and now I’m starting the process for our Sydney and Brisbane offices.
"Our aim is to be Australia-wide within two years."
Deol says one of the keys to his more stable situation is a fantastic relationship with Westar Isuzu in Derrimut, Victoria, who he has purchased his entire fleet from.
Deol honed his selection down to two models of Isuzu trucks: NNR 45-150s with medium wheel bases and the automated manual transmission; and the FRD 600S long wheel base model.
The NNR does the bulk of the urban work; due to its manoeuvrability and the fact some city routes don’t allow the larger trucks.
The FRDs shoulder the interstate work, to lug furniture and bric-a-brac up the interstate highways, often handling two customers’ loads at a time.
"The Isuzus are just great trucks," Deol said.
"They’re reliable, economical and Westar really looks after us. Any time we need servicing done they just tell us to bring it on in and they’ll handle it.
"I’ve tried other truck brands before but they’re just not the same.
"This quality and service is why I chose Isuzu in the first place, and it’s why – when I decide to move up to heavy duty trucks – I’ll stay with them."
Deol decided to move to new trucks over a used truck fleet, based on customer demands and satisfaction.
"When I first started, I was buying used trucks but now I buy new trucks exclusively.
"I thought it was better to buy new, because customers often ask how old our trucks are, and one of Move In Removals’ points of difference is that we have no breakdowns.
"With other companies, customers will get a call in the morning saying, ‘We have a truck broken down, so we can’t come to the job – if you can find someone else, that’s good, otherwise you’ll have to wait a few hours.’
"I’m not okay with treating people that way.
"With new trucks, I know the vehicle has been taken care of throughout its lifetime and there are no surprise mechanical issues."
Deol applies this meticulous philosophy of care to all aspects of the business.
He wants to create the best possible company, from vehicles to staffing, and looks after both in a way that facilitates this.
"I decided early on that good employees and well-maintained, tidy trucks were the two main things to focus on," Deol said.
"We pay our staff top dollar so that we can get the best people and hold onto them – which we do.
"They’re on a good increment every year, but they also know I expect good work from them. I often do surprise visits to jobs to make sure they’re doing the right thing.
"It’s important to me that they know I value them, and that includes giving them a truck that’s comfortable and safe to drive.
"I’ve had ramps fitted to all the removal trucks, because it makes the work safer, easier and faster – then everyone’s happy."
Though Deol’s success is clearly a result of personal toil and determination, ask him about it and he credits everything to those who’ve helped him along the way.
"I’ve had some great people backing me.
"I was proud to work with Toll and I think I am where I am because of them.
"And Westar Isuzu has been a huge supporter of me – because of them, I’m able to keep pushing towards the future."