Uzuko Carriers (Pty) Limited (Uzuko Carriers) started as a joint venture in 2010 between JSE-listed supply chain specialists Cargo Carriers Ltd (Cargo Carriers) and Caltex Eastern Cape Marketers (CECM), to create a dual owned company to handle last-mile delivery of Caltex brand products to dealerships around East London, including isolated outlets as far away as Mthatha. Within three years, superior cost-efficiency and reliability had seen the Uzuko Carriers contract expanded south to include distributors around the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, and westwards into the Karoo.
Fast-forward to the present, and Uzuko Carriers has seen its contract with Caltex renewed and expanded. The haulier now covers 101 Eastern Cape forecourts for Caltex, travelling more than 1.3 million kilometres to deliver 274-million litres of petrol and diesel per year.
“Part of the success of Uzuko Carriers is down to the joint-venture nature of the operation,” says Cargo Carriers Director of Marketing, Andre Jansen van Vuuren. “Cargo Carriers has spent many years gaining expertise in managing a transport business, and we’ve developed several intellectual properties that help cut costs and boost profits. So Uzuko Carriers can apply those IPs and our management practices to deliver the same levels of service and affordability.”
Jansen van Vuuren sees Uzuko Carriers’ on-going relationship with Caltex as testimony to the reliability of their service, and the ability to use innovation to lower costs. “To that end, in line with our vehicle replacement policy, we have just purchased seven Mercedes-Benz Actros 2641 trucks to replace some of Uzuko Carriers’ old Actros 2644s,” he says. “Some of those trucks have done more than a million kilometres, and Uzuko Carriers is doing things right, to maintain their reputation for reliable delivery – that’s why they received a five-year contract renewal, I reckon.”
He also explains how the capital expenditure paradoxically results in cost savings. “The new trucks are 400kg lighter than the old ones, with greater power efficiency. So they not only use 10-15% less fuel to haul a load, but they also handle the mountainous terrain better – and we can carry an extra 300 lt of fuel per load safely, thanks to the reduced weight. Over a year, that adds up to a lot, for a distributor. The trucks are purchased on a three-year buy-back guarantee, with a Mercedes-Benz maintenance contract, so your costs are fixed and when it comes time to cycle these vehicles out of service and replace them, there’s no danger of the book value being higher than the market value.”
“Plus the new service intervals has been extended dramatically, as opposed to 20 000km with the Actros 2644s. All these advantages add up to lower costs for the customer, while our driver training programmes and load-tracking software enhances predictable, reliable delivery,” he concludes. Jansen van Vuuren is confident that, like the four new vehicles Cargo Carriers acquired for the Port Elizabeth branch last year, the new Uzuko Carriers trucks are a profitable investment in the company’s potential for continued growth.