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Three generations working together every day: Darren Eather

Darren Eather Director of Wickham Freight Lines

Family owned and operated since 1993, Wickham Freight Lines makes getting from A to B as easy and stress-free as possible. As one of Australia’s largest, privately owned transport companies, it specialises in providing long-distance refrigerated freight solutions that accommodate time-sensitive needs and service national retail supply chains. It offers daily transport services between Bundaberg, Brisbane, Warwick, Sydney and Melbourne, with regular services to additional rural areas.

With family values at its core, Wickham believes its customers are the most important people in the company.

Director Darren Eather became a part of this family in 1993, when he married the daughter of Australian trucking legend Peter Wickham, co-founder of Wickham Freight Lines. “I started my career in the construction industry and worked as a civil engineer between 1990 and 1997, before joining the family business in 1997 and building our transport terminal and head office in Warwick, Queensland,” says Darren. “I have always taken any opportunity to learn and develop over the years, to grow the business and make sure that the systems behind the growth are up to date.”

Darren Eather, Director of Wickham Freight Lines
Darren Eather, Director of Wickham Freight Lines
Each week, Wickham Freight Lines transports more than 12 million eggs and 2,000 tonnes of meat products across Australia.

With approximately 150 trucks and 400 trailers in its impressive fleet, in April this year, the business welcomed its 250th Kenworth truck – a feat few others in Australia have achieved. “In 1978, Peter and Angus Wickham bought the first new Kenworth. There’s only one other family-owned business in Australia to have achieved this and not only does it highlight our commitment to our suppliers, but it also shows how important it is for us to buy Australian-made trucks and trailers,” Darren explains. “We’re based in the small country town of Warwick, and we contribute to the community by providing a great place to work – that’s the best success story this family could hope for.”

Over the years, Wickham has grown from a small company transporting produce from farms and working with a few like-minded family businesses, into a large and well-structured operator. “Having the opportunity to work with some of the most respected companies in Australia and be trusted with their freight every day is really important to us. We choose local Australian suppliers first every time and when we find the right fit, we stick with them some suppliers have been with us for more than 30 years. For our engines – the most important part of the truck –we’ve worked with Cummins South Pacific for the past 10 years to make constant product improvements. They’re not just suppliers, they’re part of the team.”

Facing challenges

Darren says the two biggest challenges facing the business are cost management and getting the right people in a rapidly growing industry. “We are a family business with family members working together every day, so we see our staff as part of the extended family. Our people are proud and passionate about our brand and do their best to protect our reputation. A happy family is essential for success.

“We’re lucky to have a great team of people now, but we’re going to need a lot more in the future,” Darren explains. “Because we share the road with the public, we have a duty to ensure our drivers are highly trained and our equipment standards are the best they can be.”

“We are a family business with three generations working together every day, so we see our staff as part of the extended family.”

Looking forward, Darren has the belief that you can’t go forward while looking in the rear-view mirror. “Technology is always changing and impacting the business. Over the next 12 months, we’ll be looking at upgrading satellite tracking and the tech in our trucks, and we’ll put more emphasis on driver fatigue management and efficiency improvements,” says Darren.

“These improvements will change the way we operate and keep us in front of the changing world of tech, which will provide a better solution for our customers thanks to the enhanced communication and tracking of their product. In the long-term, this will help us get the best value for money in running our fleet and growing our customer base along the way.”

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