Bob Whittingstall - Camtrans
Craig and Pam recently caught up with Bob Whittingstall from Camtrans to discover his interesting story in the transport industry..
Firstly, a bit about you, are you Albany born and bred?
I was born in Folkstone, UK and migrated to Australia in 1963. My parents brought the 5 kids with them and I was 6 years of age. We were 10 Pound Pom’s. We arrived in Perth and stayed at Grayland’s, then my father got a job as a motor mechanic working in the small wheat belt town of Kulin. The family all enjoyed the country life but we all moved to Albany in 1970 for school.
Camtrans has been around for a long time, how did it all start?
Camtrans started in 1985. Phil had the cartage firm Comet and Geoff, his brother who was my mate from school, came over from Melbourne to work with him. I came in to help and we were subcontracting to Country Carriers, but within six months the three of us had bought one third shares in Country Carriers. We started with two trucks and one utility and were called “Geoff & Bob Transport”.
Where did the name Camtrans come from?
Well it came with a truck! We went to Adelaide to buy a truck and on it was written “Camtrans Adelaide” it also had the colour scheme and pin striping that you see on the trucks today. We brought the truck back and decided to see if we could register the business name Camtrans. That was successful and the rest is history. So, actually, the early 1990’s was the start of “Camtrans”.
Was there a growth plan, did you ever expect the business would be this successful?
There was a slight progression every year, nothing happened over night, there was only ever a gradual increase to our business. We have gone up and down over the years, for example, at one time we had over 20 employees, where now we have around 14. We never had any expectations of where we thought the business would go, but we worked very hard. I would get up at 4am work the whole day to 5pm and then get in the truck and drive to Perth arriving at midnight. These were very long days and in the morning bring the truck back, where Geoff would do exactly the same the next day. Having the Woolstores contract really helped too. I started with two $5,000 personal loans and $2,000 in the bank and Geoff had similar funds. We still work at least 55 to 60 hours a week, so that has not changed over the years.
How did you start supplying bricks to Albany?
The bricks business started in the 90’s with one builder asking us to bring bricks to Albany. We provided him with good service and gradually more Albany builders came to us as well as the brick companies coming on board, which continues to this day.
Everyone recognizes your trucks on the highway, is there a story behind the Bulldog?
The Bulldog came about because we drive Mack Trucks and have done for many years. The bulldog has always been associated with Camtrans.
How many kilometer’s would Camtrans Trucks travel?
Our trucks go up and down the Albany Highway around 20 times a week. (Craig replies – yes, you generally would not drive to Perth without passing a few Camtrans trucks). Country Carrier trucks start at 8am with recycling to go to Perth and are home by 10pm with the freight from Perth. Total number of kilometres travelled for these trucks would be around 200,000 per year. We now have six prime movers and the other trucks would do at least 150,000 km in a year.
What advice would you give your younger self if you were just starting now?
The advice I would give is that you need to work hard, very hard and put the hours in. Most importantly always be honest with your clients. Never lie, because people always appreciate the truth. This is something we have always done since we started the business and it has served us well.
I understand you have another pastime that keeps you occupied over many weekends, tell us about that.
Weekends are spent in my garage rebuilding old motorcycles, this all started with my first bike at the age of 20 which was a 1966 BSA.
I also enjoy going away every second year riding in a Veteran’s Rally which are held in different parts of Australia every time. Next year we will be going to Tasmania and I will be riding a 1918 Henderson there. The rally involves riding around 100 to 150kms a day and then spending the night fixing them, to do it all again the next day.
23 Graham St
Centennial Park WA 6330
Phone: (08) 9841 7409
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