THE SELF MOVE STORY
Self Move Hire was started by the late Jon Van Dyk in 1989 in Bathurst NSW. He commenced the business by designing and ordering 10 very large furniture trailers some of which remain in the trailer hire fleet today. Soon after this, cage trailers were added to the inventory and about 25 service stations offered Self Move trailers for hire on a line between Dee Why where Jon’s elderly mother lived and his home in Bathurst. In 1995 the business was split into two parts. The Bathurst section was purchased by Jon’s neighbour and renamed “Move With Me Hire”. It continues to this day in the Central West of NSW.
The Sydney and Blue Mountains section of the business was purchased by me in 1996. At that time it consisted of 38 trailers and two old utes with dropsides trays. Prior to purchasing the business I was teaching Physics at a private high school in Bathurst where I had been for 11 years. This followed a decade in military service. My wife was working as a pallative care nurse and we had three sons. So the thought of buying a business looked a good way to get ahead and ad variety to life. I sold my Land Rover and maxed out our mortgage to purchase the business. I also leased a new diesel Discovery to visit Agents and tow vehicles comfortably and economically across the Great Dividing Range.
My aim at the time was for the business to fund the new Land Rover and provide the opportunity to get out and drive it. For the next three years I continued to teach part time with Tuesdays off. Generally I drove to Sydney on Monday afternoon to visit agencies and check and maintain the trailers. Working into the night became a regular pattern. As the business grew and I often crossed the mountains several times each week. All the trailers were recondition back in Bathurst, generally one a week, away from the congestion and expense of Sydney. With a mortgage to pay and sons to educate the business became less a part time hobby and more a full on business activity as time passed.
Crossing the mountains in winter late at night to arrive home and teach again the next day was always an adventure, especially when towing a trailer. On one occassion while returning home I scored a flat tyre at 3 am on a freezing night. The lights of Bathurst were just visible in the distance and it was snowing horizontally most of the time! The highway was under repair so everything was very muddy. That is the only time in the business I can actually say I envied people at home in bed!
In 1998, I decided to replace the two old utes with new ones so ordered two more. At the last minute I decided not to trade in the old ones for the money offered. I soon realised four utes was not enough to fund a decent yellow pages advertisement so within months I ordered more utes. This time the purchase was six utes and two were written off by customers within 5 weeks! The insurance did not cover the payout figures on these new loans. Atleast my wife and I still had day jobs!
In 2001 we relocated to the Central Coast and I began working in the business full time and continually adding to the fleet. The first 40 utes purchased were all 4 cyliner Toyota workmates. The automatic versions were added to the fleet with tow bars. The accident rate was very high as they were often used to tow too heavy a load. Then Toyota brought out a new chassis design and the vehicles had much better dynamics. The automatics came only fitted with a 4.0l V6 engine. These proved too powerful and again many were crashed as people drove too fast for the load they were carrying.
At this time I switched to Mitsubishi V6 automatic utes. The four wheel drive type chassis with heavy duty suspension proved a better mix for removal and towing duties. The accident rate dropped significantly. Now we offer customers diesel Mitsubishi utes with cruise control when towing and long distance trips are involved. These have been very reliable. Toyota has reintroduced the 4 cylinder automatics and these act like big wheel barrows when customers are moving house. They are easy to load and hold furniture really well, thanks to the cage sides on the trays.
In 2005 we started adding vans to the vehicles on offer from our Agencies. The Renault Master 2T vans at Wentworthville have been very popular with people moving interstate. Packing your own gear and taking it yourself appeals to a lot of people when moving. As no one else is involved and items do not get lost or broken by others. To get the vehicles back quickly I often fly interstate and meet the customer at the airport before driving the van home. I look forward to these random adventures and the customers have always been appreciative of the service. Two trips from Cairns and one from Perth have been recent highlights.
The most unusual customer has been the Italian team entering the World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide in 2011. As the crate holding the solar car was being air freighted from the Ferrari Museum in Italy direct to Sydney, the request came by email for a van and trailer for a one way hire from Sydney to Adelaide. One of our wide car trailers proved just the item and a crate was built to size in Italy. We supplied the van fitted out with expedition equipment for the three week 10,000 km tour. It took a day to get the crate from Customs and loaded correctly. Heavy items like welders and generators were moved from the rear of the very long crate into the van so that the trailer did not sway, before the visitors were fairwelled on the edge of Sydney.
No it has not been easy developing this business and yes I did purchase over 100 brand new utes and vans for the business before replace my wife’s twenty year old Volvo! She is still nursing but has upgraded her car to a ten year old one. The cars we both drive are older and more travelled than all in the hire fleet.
Self Move Hire has been a family business all along and our sons have grown up washing utes and wiring trailers. Today they have their own careers but they often help in the business in holiday times. We have always tried to offer the best vehicles at the best price and this has been achieved by investing in new quality equipment, hard work and enjoying what we do in order to keep costs down. The business still has only one full time staff member and four girls in our booking office. Contractors assist with cleaning, maintenance and moving vehicles. Every one helps with interstate relocations when required. Our loyal network of Agents are at the face of the business every day and ther efforts are greatly appreciated.
Today a trusty Land Rover and trailer are still frequently used as primary tools to pick up and deliver the utes and 1T vans. 1.3 million kilometres have been driven in the course of expanding and maintaining the fleet into Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra from our regional bases. We are still enjoying what we do and trust that you appreciate the many fine utes and vans in our large vehicle hire fleets in various cities.
My favorite vehicles are the Renault Master vans. Although the largest vehicles, they are the most comfortable, economical and fun to drive - especially on country trips. On these trips the six speed semi-auto gear box will lock up at maximum torque levels and the vans will cruise 1200km between filling with diesel. This has been achieved on a drive from Cairns to Rockhampton and also from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney!
Please let me know should you need assistance or help with any hire. Chances are I will have the vehicle you need and know exactly where you are and what you need to do to have a successful move. Whether it is a trailer, ute or van we will have used it ourselves and know what you can and can not do with the equipment.
Finally, I mention that a percentage of our profits are pledged to Christians Against Poverty, CAP. This organisation is achieving impressive results helping fellow Australians out from the burden of debt. This is something we can relate too.
Self Move Hire