AMK Containers is a classic family-owned business. Established almost 40 years ago, the company helps to transport the half a million tonnes of hay exported by Victorian farmers each year. When changes to the market meant it needed to be able to accommodate heavier containers, it approached trailer manufacturer Freighter, to come up with a solution.
When Bob Potton first purchased a skel trailer from Freighter back in 1980, he had no idea he’d come back some 20 years later to add to his fleet. “I like to keep things pretty simple in my line of work,” says the Owner and Managing Director of AMK Containers. “We do just enough for our company to prosper and we’re happy with where we stand. That’s why you won’t find us with a flashy website, or fancy business cards and we don’t advertise. We have about four clients that we freight for, which is mostly container cartage for exports and that’s more than enough for us.”
Established by Bob in 1980, AMK Containers is a family-owned company based in the town of Kyneton in Victoria’s north. The business specialises in container transport carting mostly hay from the Bendigo and Elmore regions to Melbourne’s ports. “To remain a leading force in that segment requires a diverse fleet that’s strong and durable enough to handle big payloads. Hence, we operate a small fleet of 13 skel trailers, all built by Freighter,” Bob says.
In 2000, Bob purchased just his second trailer from Freighter; a choice Bob says was easy considering he has never had any problems with their trailers. “Freighter uses a high-strength steel frame, which they engineered to provide low tare weight and maximum payload capacity – two factors that we must prioritise in the containers segment,” he states.
“In fact, the Freighter skel I bought in 2000 is still running extremely well today and I have gradually added more skels since. The steel in the chassis and airbag suspension on that trailer have exceeded all my expectations considering the amount of loads it has had to carry over the years. That alone was enough for me to contact Freighter once more.”
With demand growing for AMK Containers, Bob made his biggest purchase yet, acquiring four single Freighter tri-axle skel trailers, built specifically to accommodate more than 30 tonnes of payload. “Over the years hay quality and density has increased, which means containers have gradually become heavier. It got to a stage where we had to get skels capable of achieving in excess of 30.5 tonnes of payload capacity,” he says.
Each lightweight skel has a tare weight of just 3.8 tonnes, combined with airbag suspension, drum brakes, aluminium wheels, low-profile tyres and LED lights. According to Bob, each Freighter skel comes designed with four 40-foot twist locks, enabling a stress-free locking mechanism for each container that’s loaded. “The lightweight model gives us a real advantage when carting heavy containers to and from the ports we deliver to,” he explains.
Because of the rigorous schedule of the job, Bob says a strong family bond is what has formed the backbone of his company from day one, and continues even today. “When people ask me where I got the name AMK, I’ll say it stands for ‘All My Kids’, but technically it’s the initials of my children, Alice, Michael and Katherine,” he says with a laugh. “Unfortunately, I copped a bit from the kids as to the order I put their names in, which is why I ended up just saying All My Kids instead.”
Being the consummate family man has also helped Bob manage the differing personalities in his business. “We all have families we need to go home to, so each of them starts their respective runs very early in the morning, in order to complete them on time,” he says. “We have a one truck/one driver policy and believe in giving complete ownership to that driver and they certainly earn that right. The reality is that in all forms of employment – if you’re committed to the job, then the job will look after you and your family.”
He adds, “I suppose those same values resonate well in the business relationships I continue to have with companies like Freighter. They’ve looked after me well since day one, supplying a product that is both reliable and performs well. That’s why I had the confidence to go back to them again and when the time comes, I’ll certainly be calling Freighter to add to the 13 skels in my fleet.”