Egged on to upgrade


A couple of blinged-up Kenworth SARs have proved the sparkling final touch to Tamworth-based Lenssec Transport’s ‘eggspress’ deliveries

 

It may be a small fleet, but it shines bright. Lenssec’s 2016 T409 and 2018 T409

Everybody knows the old saying, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. It also appears to be very sound advice. However, before this adage became ingrained in our society, a very rich man by the name of Andrew Carnegie was quoted as saying, "Concentrate your energies, your thoughts and your capital. The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket."

What he was saying also makes perfect sense – specialise in one area and focus on doing it well.

Lenssec Transport in Tamworth has been doing that for over 30 years, and the funny part is their success has relied almost entirely on eggs. The operation literally has put all its eggs in one basket.

Sure, Lenssec Transport has had its share of ups and downs. They’ve even tried a few different types of ‘baskets’ but now, 33 years after Cessil Turner (one half of Lenssecs’ original founders) started working as a delivery driver for Baiada, the team is still going strong.

The ‘baskets’ they use today are two of the most stunning Kenworth SARs you will find.

Now I have to be very careful writing this story as I have never covered a company that deals with such fragile freight and there is the temptation to get overly ‘egg-cited’ with puns. I’m definitely no ‘eggs-pert’ journalist so I need to be careful and watch out that I don’t overcook it. The last thing I want is to poach any ‘egg-celent’ puns off the internet just for a cheap laugh.

I think I have that out of my system now, so we can move on and ‘eggs-plain’ the story behind Lenssec’s success (that was the last one, I promise).

Chances are if you have travelled the southern end of the New England Highway between Tamworth and Sydney you would have seen one or both of the Lenssec Kenworth T409SARs. For truck lovers of any brand these two trucks are spot on. With just the right level of exterior extras and with dedicated drivers that keep them looking immaculate, these trucks are head turners. Coincidentally Turner is the family name behind the Lenssec badge.

In 1986 Cessil Turner started working for Baiada in the company’s V8 Dodge. He would run as far as Marsden Park in Sydney with loads of fertile eggs. As the business grew, so did the loads and it didn’t take long before management approached Cessil about buying his own truck and taking on more work. Cessil and his wife Eleni jumped at the opportunity and formed Lenssec Transport. (‘Len comes from Eleni and ‘Ssec’ is the reverse of Cessil’s name.)

It’s a tight knit team at Lenssec. From left to right: Neil ‘Fitzy’ Fitzsimmons, Craig Turner, Eleni Turner and Aaron ‘Jonno’ Johnson

 

Asleep on the wheel

The first truck in the fleet was a single drive day cab UD with a bogie-axle 32ft trailer. Though it was a step up from the Dodge, it was still old school trucking in those days.

"He’d leave at midnight and if he got a bit doughy he’d have a sleep over the steering wheel," Eleni recalls.

Eleni’s son Craig, who now runs the show alongside his mum, also recalls his dad saying, "No point getting too comfortable, you’d sleep for too long!"

Craig laughs as he also remembers his dad explaining the alarm clock he used back in the day. "You just put your arms down and when your hands go to sleep you’d wake up." Definitely an old school alarm clock.

Eleni and Cessil’s solid bond with Baiada was established in those formative years. The old UD with a spring trailer carting fertile eggs down the infamous Putty Road to Sydney was no easy feat. Personally, I know I have enough trouble getting them home from the supermarket without breakages.

The service they provided established their reputation and was the basis for their decade long relationship with one of Australia’s largest egg manufacturers.

The day cab UD was eventually replaced with a sleeper cab version. For most of us, the sleeper cab UDs in those days meant somewhere to put your lunchbox, but for Cessil it was a massive improvement.

As Baiada grew, so did the workload for Lenssec. With an increased workload meant the need for a bigger truck. The UD was replaced with their first brand new unit, a 1994 Kenworth T400.

"It was a pretty looking truck, but it wasn’t much of a truck," Craig admits, quickly adding, "It was a bit of a lemon for us."

The T400 was the start of Lenssec’s growth though. In 1995 they bought their first new trailer and in 1996 the T400 was traded in for what would become the workhorse of the fleet – a 1996 International S-Line.

Eleni adores the S-Line. "They are great trucks!" she says. "If they bought out S-lines again they wouldn’t be able to keep up with sales."

"The S-line was our saviour, it’s done so many miles for us," Craig points out.

While more trucks would come and go from the fleet, the S-line, with nearly three million kilometres under the belt, is still part of the fleet. Craig also says there’s no shortage of offers from many people to take it off their hands. A resounding "no" is the common answer.

With the workload increasing it was time for Lenssec to become a multi-truck fleet. An Iveco MP4700 was ordered and added. For almost a decade these two trucks kept Lenssec going, fulfilling the growing egg market and racking up millions of kilometres between Sydney and Tamworth.

Unfortunately, in 2006 tragedy struck the Lenssec family when Cessil was killed in an unfortunate accident while fuelling up in Singleton. The death of such a legendary character like Cessil hit his family and the community hard and changed the business forever.

With such tragedy comes the best of the human spirit. The coming together of family, friends and workmates at difficult times often reflects the impact that people have on those around them. Craig is very quick to exclaim the virtues of all those that dug in to help the family at that time.

At the time of Cessil’s passing the company had two fulltime drivers, Cessil and John, who had been with Lenssec for over a decade. Eleni was doing a bit of the company paperwork with Cessil doing most of the general day-to-day running.

After the accident Eleni and Cessil’s son Kevin left his job and drove Cessil’s truck in order to keep up with the Baiada workload. Craig, a diesel mechanic by trade, kept his job at a local Tamworth workshop and spent his mornings and nights working for the family business before joining Lenssec fulltime 12 months later.

The company celebrated 30 years in business three years ago

 

Battling on

Eleni is extremely down to earth and openly admits the choice to dig in and keep the company going after the accident. "It had nothing to do with passion," Eleni states. "It had to do with your debt. You would either throw your hands in the air and sell the equipment and still owe money or you had to keep fighting."

Working with siblings isn’t always the smoothest ride and Kevin eventually moved on to another project and it was Eleni and Craig that moved Lenssec forward.

The Iveco was eventually sold off and replaced with the first of what would be three Western Stars to grace the Lenssec fleet. Starting with a 2008 Constellation 4800, there would be another in 2010 and again in 2014.

As 2016 rolled around and Craig was looking to upgrade the older of the Stars, finances and the price of the Aussie dollar meant the idea of a new Kenworth became a distinct possibility.

"You know what it’s like," quips Craig with a smile. "Kenworth’s a Kenworth, it’s the pinnacle."

Though Kenworth’s can sell themselves, the deciding factor for Craig and Eleni to switch from their trusty Stars came down to salesman Alex Milne at Brown & Hurley Tamworth.

"That’s what pushed me into Kenworth; the customer service from Alex was amazing. He’d bend over backwards for you".

Craig admits the lure of the big bonnet 90 series was definitely calling he knew they wouldn’t be the right fit for Lenssec’s needs. A flick through the brochures and Craig fell in love with the SAR. "The SAR, it’s got to be that, that old school look" … and so it was.

The wow factor of Lenssec’s trucks has slowly and surely crept in thanks to Craig. He began by adding a few extras on the first Western Star, a bit more on the next and even more on the next. When the first SAR was ordered, salesman Alex Milne would have used up all the ink in the first pen ticking all the boxes. Eleni and Craig both laugh as he recalls getting Alex to hide half the bling in the final bill of the 2018 SAR.

It’s not just the looks though. Both SARs sport 50ft bunks with all the mod cons inside including stand-up fridges and sleeper air.

While the trucks currently only run Tamworth to Sydney, Eleni wants them to be set up for the drivers should they need to be away for a longer period of time.

Having the right ‘baskets’ to do the job is only a small part of the puzzle these days, having the right people to steer and look after those ‘baskets’ is a more important piece.

"It’s not a job for everyone," Eleni admits, referring to the multi pick-up side of things as well as the hand loading and unloading.

Both Eleni and Craig express their appreciation for the drivers they’ve had in the past, and give full credit to the two boys Aaron ‘Jonno’ Johnson and Neil ‘Fitzy’ Fitzsimmons that drive the SARs now. Both guys do an exceptional job looking after the delicate loads through good driving and looking after their stunning rides through meticulous care and attention.

So with three decades of service to Baiada under their belt, the Lenssec team just keep getting better. They’ve put all their eggs in a couple of stunning SAR ‘baskets’ and with a close eye kept on them, the shine will continue.

It’s ‘eggs-ceptional’ work all round!

Getting ready to hit the road again with another load of fertile eggs bound for Sydney

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