In 2020, JJ Lawson celebrates 45 years of success in the highly-competitive business of container-based freight forwarding. A key aspect of their success has been their long-term relationship with Mack Trucks, who’ve helped them grow their fleet from one truck to 26, 22 of them Mack Granites.
Jim Lawson started JJ Lawson as a customs brokerage business in 1975. He soon realised that sub-contractors weren’t up to the task and that to maintain a good reputation he needed to transport the goods he was importing and exporting for his clients. So he bought his first truck.
His sons Greg and Martin have now taken over the business, and Greg runs a busy fleet delivering everything from scrap steel to cosmetics.
“The Mack Granites work 24 hours a day, five days a week,” says Greg, “moving containers to and from Port Botany and around Sydney, also out to Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle. We’ve got B-Double and A-Double configurations, as well as single-trailers and side-loaders. The Mack Granite is the ideal truck, the tare weight’s just right, and having a single model means our drivers can switch trucks easily.”
JJ Lawson has a long relationship with Mack Trucks, having bought their first one back in the early 90s. It’s a partnership that’s prospered because as Greg puts it, Mack Trucks understands the JJ Lawson business.
“Mack knows our business and knows what we need,”
says Greg, “their workshop‘s nearby, and they take care of the trucks so we can focus on our clients. We’re great believers in loyalty, we want to provide the best service and build long-term relationships, and Mack has the same attitude. We’ve worked with the same people at Mack for years, and we’ve been to a few retirement send-offs. That’s pretty rare these days, it’s a good partnership.”
This close understanding came to the fore in 2019, when Greg updated the fleet with seven new Mack Granites.
“We run them up to eight years,” says Greg, “and with Sydney traffic, it’s more about hours than kilometres. Last year we needed to expand the fleet and replace a few trucks, and Mack gave us a great package deal on the Mack Granites including full-service agreements.”
Mack knew that the Lawson family started their transport arm not because they were interested in trucks, but because they wanted to be a one-stop-shop with control of the entire chain of responsibility from the wharf to the warehouse. This has paid off, with other freight forwarders now coming to JJ Lawson for their transport needs.
“Our customers don’t see everything that goes on in the background on the broking side,” says Greg, “but they do see our Macks turn up on time and deliver their goods safely. That’s what counts in the end, and Mack understands the importance of that.”
While he manages the transport side of the business, Greg’s the first to admit that he’s not an expert in trucks, and Mack’s package of full-service agreements enables him to concentrate on the business, confident that the trucks will always be ready to go when he needs them.
“I’m focused on using the trucks, not maintaining them,” says Greg, “so having reliable service and expert advice from Mack is worth a lot to me. The service agreements mean I know my costs in advance and have a reliable fleet with maximum uptime.”
Greg took the opportunity to commemorate the company’s 45th year of operation by having one of the Granites finished in a special livery.
“Our standard fleet’s red with black stripes, so I asked Mack to reverse the colours complete with commemorative signage on one of the new Mack Granites. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the black finish, it’s a really striking-looking truck.”
JJ Lawson has grown organically over the decades and Greg says this comes down to their attitude of customer service.
“We’re not the cheapest carrier in a pretty cut-throat market,” he says, “but our clients know we’re 100% reliable. We retain our staff, and we’re very service-conscious, as are Mack. We like having a single brand we can be confident with, and that old-school loyalty is definitely a factor.
“Whatever’s in the containers we’re moving—widgets or gold bricks—to us and our customers it’s all gold bricks. Making sure it arrives on time and in perfect condition is what we’re all about. Mack’s support has been key to our ability to do that well for decades, and we expect that to continue in the future.”
Dean Bestwick, Vice President of Sales Mack Australia, says “JJ Lawson has built a solid reputation as a trusted and reliable freight forwarder. They’re a classic example of a business that needs more than just trucks, they want a total transport solution so they can get on with their job. We’re very proud that Mack can provide the solution that helps keep JJ Lawson at the top of their game.”