“They’ve got the iron of an American truck with the driveability of a European truck.”

From its beginnings carting milk in cans from dairy farms, LW Bonney & Sons has grown to become one of the largest and most persified transport companies in New Zealand.

In 1973, Calven Bonney took over the family business that had been running since 1946. At the time the company was focussed on milk delivery, but since then Calven has gradually persified into a wide range of goods.

Diversifying for success

“Yeah, there have been several changes,” says Calven, “we moved to carting bulk coal in the Waikato region, then grain, then sand and metal, and the then the grain led to flour and that pought us to sugar and wine. We still carry milk though, when the milk season’s on.”

Covering the North Island

LW Bonney & Sons serve the North Island of New Zealand, with depots in Hautapu and Penrose, plus a depot in Blenheim in the northern tip of the South Island from which their tankers can collect and deliver wine and sugar. The fleet of 120 trucks features 15 Macks, with a range of models including three Tridents, seven Granites, two CHs, a Metro-Liner, two Quantums and a Vision.

“The fleet’s a bit of a Noah’s Ark really,” says Calven, “in that the trucks tend to come in two-by-two. They all mix and match, but the Tridents are generally on linehaul as tankers, running up from Blenheim. The Granites are working as milk tankers right now, but when the season ends they’ll be in back in Auckland doing local distribution with curtain-side trailers or carrying containers from the port.”

A big factor in making decisions

The latest Macks were bought from MTD in Palmerston North, and Calven has been very pleased with the dealership.

“They’ve been very good, a good team of people. They’re a big factor in helping us make decisions, and the Granites and Tridents they sold us have had a very positive reception from the drivers. They’re quieter, the tare weight’s good and while they’ve got the iron of an American truck they’ve got the drivability of a European truck. It’s a good combination and my drivers love them, especially the ones with m DRIVE.”

Fuel economy well on track

“I checked this morning and they’re doing pretty good really,” says Calven, “right up there. I took a Trident out the other day and it was getting 2.3 km/litre with 44 tonne on the back, and 2.9 empty. Got to be happy with that.” And happy drivers

Fuel economy is important, but it’s driver acceptance that makes all the difference in an industry where drivers can be hard to come by and margins are slim.

“One of my drivers was a bit concerned about the cab size of the Granite,” says Calven, “because they often have to stay overnight, but once he got in it he was happy as a sandboy, and that’s the big thing for me.”