Like his drivers, David Malanaphy has trucks in the blood...owning and running them that is.
Son of Provincial Freightlines co-founder and CEO Dave Malanaphy Sr, David grew up around the business, starting out in the workshop, moving on to freight management, operations, and eventually a senior management role.
When Provincial Freightlines was sold to Linfox Logistics in 2007, David was operations manager at ‘Matrix’, an operations management cell jointly owned by Provincial Freightlines Ltd and NZL Group that was tasked with optimising the transport requirement within the supply chains servicing Cater Holt Harvey’s various business units.
Shortly after the buyout David took on a senior operations role within Linfox. For those who knew him there was an air of inevitability that he would eventually take on the challenge of running his own game.
Late in 2014 following a bout of ill health, he came to the conclusion that corporate life wasn’t for him. It was time to move.
With roots grounded in a service-at-all- costs mantra, David started Kiwitrans, a trucking company he wanted to build on the core tenets of service, safety and nationality; messages reflected in the company livery and curtain graphics in the form of a huge silver fern and the phrase ‘Can do safely’.
Starting with two secondhand Freightliners and a hand-picked crew, the business began in January 2015 and hasn’t looked back.
“For us it’s about service and staff, looking after both and delivering beyond expectation,” said David.
“We’re a tight-knit team and it works really well. Everyone gets on and no one enters the team without me discussing the prospect with my guys. If they think the person won’t fit then that’s huge for me and it’s likely they won’t make it in. Despite current trends we have a waiting list.”
On the subjects of safety, recruitment and commercial integrity, David also has strongly held beliefs.
“Nothing’s more important than the safety of your staff. However, the lack of drivers being trained at the coalface has a huge potential to impact the industry’s safety. Staff could well be the factor that limits our ability to grow. We’re only a small company but we’ve recently taken on a cadet type driver, training him up to full Class 5, ingraining our culture and core beliefs at the same time. We can’t really afford that, but someone has to do it.”
Today the business operates seven trucks, three Freightliners, the two Western Stars and the two MANs. The MANs are the first two SCR trucks in the fleet.
“The whole emissions tampering thing really pisses me off. It puts us at an immediate disadvantage to those portraying the right thing and defrauding their customers and the community at the same time. Something needs to be done and done now,” said David.
“I’m not sure what the optimum size for the business is. I don’t want it to grow to the size of Provincial, that doesn’t interest me at all. I missed out on a lot of family time growing up with my father working crazy hours to grow that business. I’m particular about my team
spending family time at home in the weekend. It’s a tough one, we’re busy and getting busier all the time. Growth is coming to us.
Transport is a tough game, it always has been. It never gets any easier, but we’re a great little team with an awesome culture, from Nancy in the office to each of the guys on the road.
Everyone believes in what we’re trying to do and we love that silver fern. It’s not hard at all to get up every morning.”