Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers

By: Cameron Officer

Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers
Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers
Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers
Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers Business profile: Croft Combined Carriers

The red and yellow trucks of Croft Combined Carriers have been a familiar sight around the Wellington region for many decades. This small, proud independent company continues to provide service with a difference to all manner of local businesses.

Look around the walls of the smoko room at Croft Combined Carriers' depot in Wellington and the company's 60-year history is impossible to ignore.

Everywhere you look there are framed photos of the Croft's red and yellow liveried trucks (the colour scheme has been a constant since the very start), some performing unusual transporting jobs, some simply photographed at rest at journey's end or in the yard.

There are photos of staff from bygone years too – the stiff shirts and ties of the 1960s giving way to the stubbies and towelling hats of the 1970s.

It's a quiet smoko room, but there are plenty of stories. And in some respects the Croft Combined Carriers that the black and white and sun-faded photos on the walls describe hasn't changed all that much down the years.

Here in 2015 it remains a proudly independent firm – a cooperative in fact, with owner/drivers making up the directorship of the company – focused on providing a host of businesses in the Greater Wellington region with the sort of service that flies in the face of that provided by many of the bigger players.

"I think you tend to get much more of an anonymous service when you don't know who's driving the truck, don't know from one day to the next who might be picking up your goods," says Croft's accounts manager Amanda Barr.

"Many of our drivers have specific local clients that they cart for and have done so for many years. I think that's where a lot of the trust we garner from companies around the city comes from; we're the sort of firm that has a long history with a lot of familiar faces. That says a lot about a company I believe."

David Adams is one such driver for the Seaview-headquartered company. And in the best structural traditions of a cooperative, he's also a director.

"I'm numbering time with Crofts in the decades now," he laughs. "It's good though. We have a good reputation out there and I think the companies we cart goods for appreciate the owner-driver set-up.

Croft _2

"You don't get that anymore really, certainly not in this part of the world. We were discussing it the other day and there just aren't any other Wellington-based companies like ours left, where you have an owner-driver looking after your load.

"I think that changes the nature of the service people can expect to get. The truck I drive everyday is my business-within-a-business if you like and while a client company might be getting Crofts to organise their goods, they're getting me and they know me and I know their business because I'm there every day, or every few days or whatever it might be."

"We've actually retained the same managerial staff for a number of years," continues Barr.

"Naturally we see people come and go occasionally, but we have a very stable internal structure which is something that has remained the case for most of the company's history.

"Our general manager Chris Carter started off here as our dispatcher over 25 years ago, and it was a progression through to general manager. Because we're a smaller company and a cooperative, the structure is very transparent."

Four of the now-directors started as waged van drivers, an ethos that the company fosters and promotes that is aimed at encouraging people to progress through to owning their own business within the company.

There are plenty of curtainsiders, as well as a trombone and semi-trailer that gets utilised for some interesting work, especially structural steel work. No job appears to faze the company and a 'can do' attitude pervades throughout.

In addition to general cartage trucks, Croft Combined Carriers is also a local 'go to' for Hiab crane hire.
"That's been a core component of our service offering for a long time," says Barr. "We have very experienced Hiab operators and in addition to actually lifting and transporting, we'll get one of our guys to assess the job before we start on it, just to make sure we know all the angles.

"Our drivers will go wherever they need to in order to get the job done; it's their business as much as it is mine. These days, having all of us share that common goal is important for a smaller firm like ours."

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