December Cover – Ray Graetz

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS in business is an extraordinary milestone for any business. But when that milestone is celebrated by a company that grows stronger by the year in arguably one of the toughest industries around, it makes the milestone even more remarkable. Ray Graetz founded Coastal Transport Services in 1986…
Ray Graetz founded Coastal Transport Services in 1986 and has steadily grown the company from a single semitrailer driven by a hired driver to a fleet of more than 40 trucks, two depots and a team of more than 100. This story celebrates Ray’s business journey and shares his four ‘pillars’ for business success, which are applicable to all business owners.

COVER STORY Born and raised in country South Australia, Ray Graetz commenced his career in the police force before being recommended for officer training with the Australian Army. Graetz served in the Army for seven years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, exiting in Sydney with the rank of Captain in 1974. He ran a couple of small businesses, including a delivery truck service, before moving to the Central Coast with his wife and daughter in 1977. A year later Graetz was headhunted to manage Toukley Transport, which soon extended to the management of two transport compa- nies after the owner expanded his business. Nine years later Graetz was ready to go out on his own. Starting modestly, Graetz’s ‘lucky’ break came when he won a tender to handle the deliveries for Track Fast, the parcel delivery service for the Central Coast at the time, a contract which demanded that he grow the business by purchasing additional trucks and taking on more drivers. The growth of the business was gradual, strategic and initially centred on a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. “In the early days, I’d buy a truck and we’d go and find the work for it,” said Graetz. But once word began to spread of Coastal Transport Service’s exceptionally high service standards, the tables turned and cus- tomers began knocking on their door. In the early 1990s the opportunity arose for Graetz to buy his former employer’s companies, Toukley Transport and Morton’s Transport, which by this stage were operat- ing at a loss. This purchase resulted in the company effectively doubling in size as it gave Graetz the opportunity to transform the losses into a successful profit generat- ing amalgamation. Graetz had a clear vision from the start based on business tips he had picked up many years before founding the business coupled with lessons he had learned in previous management roles, especially in terms of what not to do. The ‘four pillars’ upon which Graetz’s business was built and which continue to drive him today are: • Always look after your good customers • Always look after your good employees • Always ensure your income exceeds your expenditure • Get your money in fast “ I don’t do anything unless it relates to those four pillars,” said Graetz, who has since developed Coastal Transport’s ‘12 Golden Rules’ as an extension of the four pillars.

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