Southpac Legends

 
Culture First - Andrew Carpenter

Culture First - Andrew Carpenter

Southpac Legends

 December 2020   

With a bespoke lunch room that features a 6ft truck hauling refrigerators, office walls adorned with photos of staff doing outdoor pursuits and a personnel development programme that enables both vocational and personal growth, you could say that TR’s head office in Penrose is more of a club than a well-oiled truck and trailer rental group - but it’s their ever evolving, empowering culture that founder Andrew Carpenter began twenty-eight years ago and what they give back to the industry that makes him a Southpac Truck Legend.

TR Group began back in 1992 when Andrew (supported by family resources and father Ron of Motor Truck Distributors / Truck Leasing fame) took on what was then the CHEP Trailer Hire business with a fleet of sixty-five trailers, evolving to what is now an almost seven thousand strong fleet of trucks and trailers and a business that is currently expanding into Australia and beyond.

Andrew has been in the transport industry his whole life and he has no doubt that growing up he developed his trucking bug from his father, however, it wasn’t a pre- determined goal in life to be in trucks, in fact he didn’t really have a particular goal when he left university, saying “It was just a happy coincidence that right at that moment this opportunity came up and I took it.”

Andrew recalls that back then, the Carpenter family bought the Auckland based Chep Trailer Hire operation and Andrew took the helm. “I moved up here [from Palmerston North] and started running Trailer Rentals as we called it. Trucks did not come into the picture until 1998.

According to Andrew, ‘Truck passion and focus’ is basically the difference between what they and many of their lease competitors do. He says “virtually all their competitors origins are from a ‘money lend’ parentage, we’re more about ‘what truck do you want and what are you trying to do?’ “It’s more truck solution based”.

Inevitably Andrew brought with him some of his father’s core values and principles and operationally and culturally he knew exactly how he intended to shape the business. He says, “the customer driven philosophy is timeless and there’s wisdom that you can draw from my father’s generation,”. It is important to keep building on that too, Andrew goes on to say, to reflect the way the world is moving.

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With a bespoke lunch room that features a 6ft truck hauling refrigerators, office walls adorned with photos of staff doing outdoor pursuits and a personnel development programme that enables both vocational and personal growth, you could say that TR’s head office in Penrose is more of a club than a well-oiled truck and trailer rental group - but it’s their ever evolving, empowering culture that founder Andrew Carpenter began twenty-eight years ago and what they give back to the industry that makes him a Southpac Truck Legend.

TR Group began back in 1992 when Andrew (supported by family resources and father Ron of Motor Truck Distributors / Truck Leasing fame) took on what was then the CHEP Trailer Hire business with a fleet of sixty-five trailers, evolving to what is now an almost seven thousand strong fleet of trucks and trailers and a business that is currently expanding into Australia and beyond.

Andrew has been in the transport industry his whole life and he has no doubt that growing up he developed his trucking bug from his father, however, it wasn’t a pre- determined goal in life to be in trucks, in fact he didn’t really have a particular goal when he left university, saying “It was just a happy coincidence that right at that moment this opportunity came up and I took it.”

Andrew recalls that back then, the Carpenter family bought the Auckland based Chep Trailer Hire operation and Andrew took the helm. “I moved up here [from Palmerston North] and started running Trailer Rentals as we called it. Trucks did not come into the picture until 1998.

According to Andrew, ‘Truck passion and focus’ is basically the difference between what they and many of their lease competitors do. He says “virtually all their competitors origins are from a ‘money lend’ parentage, we’re more about ‘what truck do you want and what are you trying to do?’ “It’s more truck solution based”.

Inevitably Andrew brought with him some of his father’s core values and principles and operationally and culturally he knew exactly how he intended to shape the business. He says, “the customer driven philosophy is timeless and there’s wisdom that you can draw from my father’s generation,”. It is important to keep building on that too, Andrew goes on to say, to reflect the way the world is moving.

“I like the generation we’re in now, people have a lot of confidence and security. Some of the young people here are unbelievable, they’re superb, they’re perfectly relaxed and confident within themselves, they’re interested in ‘what’s right’ rather than ‘who’s right’.”

Despite the business’s obvious success, Andrew himself is the picture of humility and credits much of its achievements to their leadership team and ultimately to the staff.

“We have a leadership team of twelve and I feel that everybody on it contributes equally and has for years and years. Our thing is to build a team of people who are really good at what they do but are also doing what they want to be doing and getting their own personal fulfilment, it’s a healthy balanced equation in my view.”

He says that TR’s culture is about freedom and choice, “it’s about finding your place here and grabbing the opportunities to learn and grow as a human being, if you do that, you’ll learn and grow as a professional in your role. So the whole flavour is about learning and growth and that’s one of the most fulfilling things for me personally.”

TR is somewhat of a karma chameleon and its arguably ‘uniquely refreshing’ culture is something that has slowly evolved over the past twenty-eight years, however, there have been some milestones along the way.

“Like a lot of these things, they slowly grow as you live life, you try things and decide that things are or are not you. At some point you get more deliberate about it and say well what does this look like if I’m trying to share it with other people and you create something that you can communicate to others more clearly.”

He says that about twelve years ago they [the team] took time to write out their values and recalls it being interesting ‘because the only way that writing out your values works is if you try and describe what you are not what you want to be’. And then three years ago they created a set of ‘pillars’, essentially guidelines that are the ethos of the group itself.

Andrew explains, “it begins when people join us. Our process for hiring is very deliberate in order to get the right people. We’re really clear about what the role is but we’re equally clear about the culture and style of our place. People that join us want to be here and complement it, they don’t sit outside of it for too long, they become it. We believe that TR as a separate being doesn’t exist, it’s just a name we give ourselves, in fact TR is just us, all of us.” And that’s where the pillars come in.

“On one side we say let’s try and strive to be the best in the world at what we do, (hiring trucks and trailers) and if we do that some extraordinary results will come. On the other side we say, let’s go about our business by believing we can always make a positive difference for other people, be it the person we work with, the customer or the supplier. And if we go about our lives like that the result will be that we leave a lasting impression.”

Andrew says that often you find that people suggest you have to choose which one is more important. Are you going to build your business and make it big or are you going to slow down and take time to look after people and accept that the business might not grow or succeed because of that. “But we’ve learned that they don’t have to trade off, there doesn’t need to be one or the other, you can have both and do both.” He reckons that there’s a sweet spot where you’re actually doing both at the same time all of the time, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is leading to a good business and making a positive difference for others. “And that’s where we try and live because our definition of success is both. If we do one but not the other, that’s a fail.”

All the hard work goes on between the pillars, Andrew says ‘the pathway to get there is the bit in the middle where we say, always learning, growing and improving in key areas, customer value, our capabilities, our work and ourselves as human beings.’ For this the group has a designated PCAD (Personal Care and Development) team and room that’s there to support and encourage people to be the best they can be. They have many powerful learning models, such as ‘learning pits’ that recognise that to learn you have to get worse before you get better, and conduct off-site team challenge weeks designed to help team members excel. TR also runs LEAN, a customer focused business model that is designed to maximise the energy and time that goes into doing things that customers value and, as a consequence, reduce wasteful non value adding activity in business processes, notes and charts run on walls throughout the three floors of office space.

But it’s not just the team that this culture embraces, TR sponsors the Youth Team Trust, National Truck Driving Champs, New Zealand Fire Service, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, and the Hopeful black dog to name but a few. Evidently what Andrew began twenty-eight years ago when TR commenced has proven to be a success both inside and out of the organisation but he finishes by saying “in terms of giving to the industry, I think the best thing we can do is be the best bunch of people we can be, that the industry likes to deal with and my dream is to see if we can build a culture that carries on.”


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