Leading transportation across Africa
Any successful business considers the logistics of its product along the supply chain. A crucial element of this is, of course, transport. From sector to sector, the fundamentals of material management span across many industries. Bulldog Hauliers is one of South Africa’s leading trucking and transport companies, and over the past 35 years this family-owned business has established points of presence in every major hub in the country. The African Business Journal spoke to Director Mitchell Joseph about the company’s business model, philosophy and future plans.
The Bulldog business model
The crux of the business model is based on the very thing that Bulldog Hauliers knows best—logistics. The company has strategically expanded its fleet and locations throughout South Africa to avoid the perils that commonly plague the trucking and transport industry. The business has been purchasing and building warehouses across the country to ensure smooth processing of all contracts. It also works with only paid up fleets; one of its strategies to maintain a low overhead. This progressive business model has led to steady growth and an increase in market share. Many of the company’s current assets have been designed with a specific purpose—to accommodate greater capacities of freight than the industry standard. This competitive advantage has served the business well, and it has the ability to price competitively. Joseph notes that the competitive price structure has been key in the company’s success and the expansion was an integral part of the ability to set the price structure.
The power of people
Bulldog Hauliers maintains a modest size, with about 50 employees, including administrative staff. This small size means the directors take a hands-on approach with the dealings of the company and are responsible for a wide range of duties from the large, strategic plans to the smallest details. Joseph notes that directors are involved in the day-to-day operations and financial transactions of the company. This proactive approach has clearly been a positive move, as they have been a stable figure in the industry for many years. There is also a heavy focus on recruiting, with only the most knowledgeable and well-respected professionals in the transport and trucking industry invited to become part of the team. This “intellectual capital”, as the company calls it, is part and parcel of its corporate strategy to boost success. It continually invests in ongoing training for its staff to ensure the best, most up-to-date practices are utilized.
Bulldog Hauliers operates its transport services with a top-of-the-line fleet and have recently purchased an entirely new fleet of trucks. It uses only top quality vehicles which are specifically selected to suit customer requirements. In the event of a breakdown, Bulldog Hauliers have negotiated agreements with selected repair facilities nationwide. These pre-set contracts negate downtime in the event of a breakdown and encourage a timely delivery even in the face of misadventure. The fleet is repaired and maintained in-house at the company’s own fully-equipped facility by qualified personnel who regularly attend refresher courses. This care and attention given to the fleet is yet another reason why Bulldog Hauliers have an outstanding reputation for reliability.
The doctrine of “partnering”
Building a client base to support a business is a crucial component for sustainable growth. To facilitate this, Bulldog Hauliers has a corporate philosophy it likes to call “partnering”. The concept is to view every business relationship not as a transaction, but as a partnership. This committed alliance, built on mutual respect for each other and with total business professionalism, means Bulldog Hauliers have a high rate of customer retention. This unfaltering customer service results in a number of referrals from its trusted client base as well, who respond favourably to the company’s established branding. Bulldog Hauliers pride themselves on maintaining a continual level of quality service as this remains the confirmation of its passion for its work.
Past, present and future
The period of past growth and expansion has seen some shining moments for the company. A past project of pride for Bulldog Hauliers is the late Michael Jackson’s South African tour that moved Jackson’s pyrotechnics, lighting and sound equipment and other gear during his South African tour. It has an established brand in South Africa, which has come from considerable planning and hard work. Presently, the company is working on increasing its market share and plotting some ambitious goals for the future. Joseph’s goal is “to be the No. 1 transporter in the country”. After the growth of the past, and the time spent establishing reliable business partnerships, the target sounds entirely plausible. It seems there is a ring of truth when Mitchell says that “Bulldog Hauliers is here to stay.”