Business profile: Hart Haulage

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Deals on Wheels stopped by at Hart Haulage to find out more about the business

One-time ambulance officer turned trucking company operator Barry Hart knows more than a just a thing or two about creating opportunities and making the most of even the most dire situations.

Barry has packed a lot of living into his 47 years on the planet, having started his first business at the tender age of 19.

Always looking for a challenge, he entered the freight forwarding industry and worked for a number of the major players before landing a job with Post Haste where he quickly made his way up their management structure, eventually becoming the Auckland regional manager.

Forever seeking self-improvement, Barry took to heart a rather harsh criticism delivered by a work colleague who claimed he was "getting too big for his boots".

The boss overseeing a delivery at his the Glen Eden yard
The boss overseeing a delivery at his the Glen Eden yard

While he genuinely felt he wasn’t, he realised that the person must have had some reason for making the comment, so he fronted-up at the SPCA and asked if he could volunteer to muck-out the kennels in the hope that if he actually was getting ideas beyond his station, the SPCA work should put things into perspective.

It seems that achievers do have a tendency to attract criticism, and Barry appears not to be an exception to that rule, as during another exchange of points of view, one of the owner-drivers suggested Barry that if he was so crash-hot at logistics, then perhaps he should buy a truck of his own.

The gauntlet had been thrown down, so without hesitation, the young entrepreneur went out and bought a truck of his own and immediately set to work.

On the basis of his strong work ethic, Barry found that he was getting through a reasonable amount of work and was making good money, however, not being one to rest on his laurels, he asked his wife Debbie if she’d drive the truck for a couple of days a week while he ‘put on a suit’ and went out scouting for new customers.

While the concept of an owner-driver canvasing for a greater customer base may seem to most to be a little outside the nine dots and perhaps wouldn’t be condoned by parent companies in the 2020 marketplace, Barry said he wasn’t prepared to wait around for the company sales reps to put a lid on his earning capacity.

TThe 52-tonne H rated CF DAF leaving the yard
The 52-tonne H rated CF DAF leaving the yard

Recognising there were opportunities outside of the general freight industry to make a dollar, in 2012, Barry went outside his comfort zone and bought a second-hand Ford Sterling tip truck.

Long story short, one truck became two, and so on, the fleet list steadily grew, along with an ever-increasing fleet of four and five-axle trailers.

An eclectic mix of brands of trucks are included in the line-up, which are listed below.

  • 2 x 2006 Mack Vision
  • 2006 Iveco Stratos
  • 2008 Western Star
  • 2014 Isuzu Giga 400
  • 2018 DAF

The famous pink Western Star

Hart Haulage’s legendary pink Western Star—after covering around 400,000km—has recently been earmarked for some surgery required on its clutch and 18-speed Roadranger box and was set to be off the road for a week or two.

Incidentally, Barry remarked that 400,000km isn’t too bad for a big rig driven by his New Zealand-famous 22-year-old son Josh who, he admits, does work it quite hard.

During a father and son ‘Hart to Hart’ talk about the time-off Josh may have to take while his truck was laid up, Josh managed to come up with a unique way to carry out the big boss’ wishes, doing so with typical flare.

A day or two later while rounding a corner on his motorbike, Josh came to grief on some loose gravel and wound up in the hospital for a few days, emerging from the ordeal sporting some severe bruising to his left arm and leg.

A smart moving billboard for the Landscape Yard
A smart moving billboard for the Landscape Yard

Initially, it was thought that his injuries may have been of a more serious nature, but fortunately, that wasn’t the case and the young gun should be ready to get back behind the wheel at about the same time as the truck is ready to hit the road again.

Josh says that he can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of his pride and joy pink Western Star, a truck he says has literally saved his life.

From Josh’s parent’s point of view, the truck may have a primary purpose of carrying product, but Barry says it performs an equally important role for the Hart family with its pink livery (the universally recognised anti-bullying colour) along with Josh’s candour surrounding the bullying he received as a younger person, being the most important by-product of its existence.

Diversifying the business

A firm believer in diversification of business interests, Barry took hold of an opportunity that recently came his way to purchase a landscape supply yard in Glen Eden in West Auckland, which he has re-branded as ‘The Landscape Yard’. A truck that came as a part of the package, a 2008 five-tonne Mitsubishi Fuso with about 400,000km on the clock but still going strong, has been given a new lease on life with a new pink livery.

Barry says that although it had been given a bit of rough treatment in its previous life, all that was needed to freshen it up was a small amount of panel work and of a coat of paint.He said that a major reason for retaining this particular truck in his fleet was the fact that it’s fitted with a unique dual compartment splitter bin with a cab-operated gate fitted to the middle of the bin which allows loads consisting of two separate components to be caried on the same delivery.

Yard manager Jackson (Jack) Harpur says that having the capacity to carry two loads of up to four cubic metres (weight dependent) on the same delivery is a real advantage, making for huge savings in delivery times.

The refurbished Mitsi Fuso off to yet another job
The refurbished Mitsi Fuso off to yet another job

In proving his belief in diversification, Barry added yet another string to his bow by including a machinery hire business as part of the landscape supplies operation.

The current list of small machinery for hire includes plate compactors, leaf blowers, lawn mower/mulchers, chippers, and chainsaws; the list goes on.

Having a portfolio of varied operations, an arborist business being one of them, Barry says

The Landscape Yard supplies firewood at competitive prices.

In their spare time (Barry freely admits he typically manages on around four hours sleep per night), Barry and Debbie Hart run a martial arts studio, which currently has 220 students.

This is, of course, along with putting in quite a bit of time promoting their anti-bullying campaigns, using their bright pink branding as a means of taking the message to the public at large.

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