June 29th 2009
June 09: Abbey Archery has had a long commitment to serving its dealer network which extends across the length and breadth of Australia.
Many Abbey Archery dealers fondly remember the late Alf Deegan who was a familiar face, regularly visiting their stores and possibly the only person who could give archery advice in those times.
Alf would set off on a trip, call on all the dealers and then hurry back to the warehouse and try and put the orders together and despatch them to the stores he had just visited.
In 2001, Brian "Hooter" Westerhout made a special trip to Sydney to visit Abbey Archery, a 1,460 kilometre or 907 miles round trip. Brian stated he was interested in becoming an Abbey Archery dealer and he purchased his initial order there and then.
In a short time, Hooter had placed another order for more archery stock. We thought that Brian must have been selling archery in every town between Sydney and his home town, but no, he had sold all of his gear to members of his local archery club.
He stood out like a beacon - he had made sales and repeat sales and Hooter proved beyond any doubt that he could sell archery in his small country town.
Brian then put a proposition - he would like to visit Abbey dealers and see if he could represent Abbey in these far away places. Brian was well known by the archery fraternity, especially in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, but the rest of Australia was an unknown for Brian and to say it would be a challenge for him is quite an understatement.
Brian believed he could service dealers and provide a level of service not seen for many years.
In late 2001, Brian was appointed as Abbey's first full time sales representative visiting our dealers, initially in south Queensland and northern NSW. A Holden Vectra station wagon was bought to allow Brian to visit dealers. (If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox as your browser, hover your cursor over each image to read the photo captions)
Hooter had a strong desire to give solid service and take a few samples in the back of the small Vectra wagon so that dealers could see new products first hand, rather than purchasing from a catalogue.
His territory quickly became the entire east coast of Australia from Melbourne, Victoria to Cairns in far north Queensland and all points in between.
Hooter soon established a warm rapport with dealers, including some dealers who had not purchased for some time and he developed a reputation for being a "sight for sore eyes" with his happy personality and cooperative and obliging attitude and his ability to provide sound advice in layman's terms, which became the foundations for Brian's success.
Carrying samples soon gave way to the Vectra carrying stock, as our dealers wanted to buy the stock there and then and they were grateful for Brian delivering the order "on the spot."
Brian started loading the wagon up "choc-a-block" full of archery stock. There was not enough room to carry a lot of stock in the Vectra and Brian hired a trailer to tow behind the wagon as our dealers were seeking a wider stock variety, rather than just bows and arrows. The trailer was packed to the gunwales with stock and was covered by tarpaulins, however the Vectra and trailer scrubbed tyres faster than a Formula 1 race car and it became very clear that the little wagon could not stand up to this rugged and rough treatment.
We realised we needed to upgrade to a larger vehicle and after looking at many options, in early 2003 we purchased a second hand 4.49 tonne truck with a pantechnicon tray which had been used to cart seafood from the trawler to market but it was ideal as it had low mileage, was equipped with twin fuel tanks for the distances we travelled, air conditioning in the cab for the very hot conditions and a solid floor in the pantech and plenty of area to display stock. (A pantechnicon or pantech is a compartment mounted on a truck body to transport stock.)
Brian arranged for a friend from his local club to help install large signs on three sides of the pantechnicon with the familiar Abbey Archery name and contact details and proudly put our name across the air scoop on the front.
The truck was an instant success as it was able to meet almost all of our dealers' needs, displaying stock and delivering their order on the spot.
We were also set up to help archers at many tournaments and competitions around Australia and were able to attend ABA, IFAA, FITA and 3D shoots in Victoria, NSW and most parts of Queensland.
So now we had satisfied dealers and customers and thought that we were adequately servicing our customer base. However as we moved around, we saw a need for us to attend more archery events.
People would see us passing their way and thought we could easily be back in their area later to attend their club shoot, when in reality the truck may be perhaps 2,000 kilometres away.
Most people do not appreciate what is involved in arranging a trip, the logistics of transporting a large vehicle around the country, being able to keep to some sort of timetable and maintaining planned regular servicing of the truck to ensure it is always on the road.
We have planned trip routes that we travel and this involves contacting dealers and giving them an approximate time frame for the visit and then planning the trip, stocking the truck and incorporating an archery shoot into the trip, if at all possible. With larger and national shoots, we arrange for our Hooter Shooter team to descend on the shoot to assist the truck and provide advice to archers attending the shoot.
Initially our sales rep would fletch arrows and build bow packages in his motel room at nights, however we now try to stock the truck with fletched arrows and bow packages built up in advance.
And just in case you think truck signage advertising was not effective, there are countless instances where passing traffic would jot down our phone number of our truck or of our national office and ring us.
They would ask if the truck was coming to their town or was it coming to their archery club. Often people would drive ahead of the truck and wait in the next town for the truck to arrive and wave it down.
We were amazed when on the UHF, you would hear the chatter that the Abbey truck was heading towards the next town and this often created a lot of interest and archery sales.
On this trip, Alec often heard over the UHF - 'I saw the Abbey truck heading south.' 'Does anyone know where the Abbey truck is stopping next.' It was quite amusing as Alec could join in and let the callers know where he was or would be.
He was also flagged down by some desperate outback archers!
Many times Brian would be delayed at a dealer while the dealer served customers and Brian was unable to get accommodation in that town, or the next and had to drive many kilometres to a town further on, to secure a bed for the night and some times this may be an hour's drive, late at night.
Our Sales Representative, Alec McPherson, still encounters the "no vacancies" due to being held up at dealers, but Alec now contacts us and we locate a motel and book his room online. Unfortunately it still often involves Alec driving on, but at least he has a place to sleep.
There are also some dealers, who in that great Aussie spirit, generously provide a meal and a bed for Alec and this is very much appreciated.
During peak seasons and when natural disasters occur, it is impossible to stay in some towns and there is one large town in central Queensland where accommodation is booked out solid for more than a year in advance, due to the mining companies wanting as many staff as possible on hand for relief and to ensure their staff can work round the clock shifts.
Whilst our truck had a set servicing routine, it had travelled almost 500,000 kilometres. It was now doing around 2000 kilometres per week and after around five years on the road for us, it had reached its useful life and we needed to upgrade to a new vehicle before we started experiencing major problems.
We had enjoyed very good service from our old GM truck but the new GM truck cost a whole lot more than other brands, so we sought advice from our courier company, Star Track Express, who operate over 180 short and long haul trucks, what the make up of their fleet was. Except for 2 trial GMs, Star Track had Mitsubishi trucks and had been using Mitsubishi exclusively for over 10 years and enjoyed exceptional service with low maintenance and running costs.
Our mind was made up. We settled on a new 10.5 tonne Mitsubishi prime mover.
The old pantechnicon was only half the length of the new truck body and besides, had been traded in on the new Mitsubishi.
The search was really on for a pantech. Brian, now our National Sales Manager and Alec had searched what seemed like every pantech and truck yard in the country. We investigated buying a new pantech and after combing sale yards everywhere, we finally found a pantech at the dealer from where we bought our first GM truck!
The pantech was previously used by a potato chip or crisp company and was in very good condition both externally and internally, but it seemed massive compared to our old truck body.
Brian and Alec had to convert it to suit our needs and spent the next four weeks outfitting the pantech in readiness for its first trip. They fitted special stock shelves and bow racking, utilising every nook and even installed a type of supermarket check out counter.
As well, a whole week end was spent applying the signage to the sides of the truck, with Brian's own truck being used as a trestle or platform in order to reach the top of the pantech.
The signage is twice as long as our old sign and includes our name, contact details and website address and extends across the full length of the pantech - and does it stand out!
It was decided to include our website name in red to stand out, rather than our familiar blue Abbey colour and it has turned out to be a great choice.
The pantech is different to our old one and has more than doubled the stock display area, with pegboard on both side walls and both sides of the centre island. It features internal stairs and this is very convenient for customers.
The new truck is a lot easier to drive, having an air cushion seat which means the driver does not feel every bump on the road and a much more powerful engine and wider gear range. It can hold over 100 bows and thousands of arrows and accessories.
For the record, the prime mover is a Mitsubishi Fuso Fighter 6.0 (not so squeezy) with an extended wheel base. It has a 7545cc 6 cylinder in-line overhead valve engine, turbo charged with air to air intercooler and a 6 speed manual gearbox. The truck's overall dimensions are 9.4 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and 3.5 metres high or 30.84 feet x 8.2 feet x 11.48 feet.
It is equipped with satellite navigation and UHF two way radio communications to be aware of local conditions and has computer, printer and internet connection. We have our UHF call sign on the rear and once in a while we receive a call from another UHF following us.
Our new truck has come a long way in the last seven years since we first bought our little Vectra.
We are very happy to have Alec McPherson back with us in our team as our Sales Representative. Alec started with us after Brian and was with us for over a year but had to leave due to family commitments. Now after a few years doing other things, we (and our dealers) are very pleased to welcome Alec back.
One of our first "off the beaten track" expeditions was undertaken by Alec, not long after he first started with us, when he took our truck out to Mt Isa, an 1,800 kilometres round trip from the coast. Mt Isa Archers suggested we approach a local store who was only too pleased to stock archery and this has been a win for the archers in these parts and a business success for the dealer.
Alec, who is a keen bowhunter, has a wealth of archery experience and was able to give the dealer valuable assistance. Alec's cheery disposition and willingness to help, shines through and he is able to carry on the great service tradition to our dealers.
The new truck is set up to attend shoots and to carry more stock for our dealers.
Not long after the new truck was commissioned, Alec embarked on our first round Australia trip.
On this epic trip, Alec left Sydney and headed up towards Brisbane and then on to Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville, where he set off on this amazing and fascinating odyssey. He passed through Richmond, Julia Creek, Cloncurry and travelled on to Mt Isa, Tennant Creek, down to Alice Springs and then up to Daly Waters, Darwin and down to Kununurra, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and to Broome.
Next it was Port Hedland, Newman, Karratha, Carnarvon, Geraldton and on to Perth and Fremantle. Then it was Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River, Denmark, Albany, Esperance, Norseman, Kambalda, Kalgoorlie.
Alec crossed the Nullarbor Plains - the straightest stretch of highway in the land, on to Eucla, Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Gawler, Elizabeth and Adelaide. Next was Murray Bridge, Millicent, Mount Gambier, Portland, Hamilton, Horsham, Ararat, Ballarat, Warrnambool, Colac, Geelong and Melbourne.
Alec travelled to many, many towns around Victoria, finally arriving back in Castle Hill and home for a well earned break.
This 27,000 kilometres or 16,800 miles trip took over four and a half months. It is no secret that Alec took loads of music CDs with him as radio, phone and UHF reception is often very patchy in many remote areas.
Alec can truly claim to have seen many Australian towns covered in the famous song "I've Been Everywhere" made popular in 1962 by Australian singer Lucky Starr!
May be one day Abbey Archery will cross, what is affectionately called the Ditch - some 2,000 kilometres or 1,250 miles that separates Australia from our Kiwi cousins, to that beautiful place called Aotearoa, the poetic Maori name for New Zealand.
If you see the truck on the road, give Alec a big wave. You certainly can't miss the truck with its new sign writing.
The song "I've Been Everywhere" was written by Geoff Mack in 1959 and made popular in 1962 by the Australian singer Lucky Starr and it listed Australian towns. Later, it was adapted with North American place names (primarily US towns) and in 1966 by John Hore (later known as John Grenell) with New Zealand place names. In November 1962, the song was a number 1 hit in US Country Music charts for the recording artist Hank Snow and was also recorded by Rolf Harris (UK 1963), John Grenell (NZ 1966), Lynn Anderson (USA 1970), Asleep At The Wheel (USA 1973), the "Farrelly Brothers" from the Australian TV series The Aunty Jack Show (Australia 1974), Johnny Cash (USA 1996), Mike Ford (Canada 2005), Chip Dockery, Ted Egan, Clifton Jansky, Willie Nelson and The Statler Brothers.
Tullamore, Seymour, Lismore, Mooloolaba, Nambour, Maroochydore, Kilmore, Murwillumbah, Birdsville, Emmaville, Wallaville, Cunnamulla, Condamine, Strathpine, Proserpine, Ulladulla, Darwin, Gin Gin, Deniliquin, Muckadilla, Wallumbilla, Boggabilla, Kumbarilla
Moree, Taree, Jerilderie, Bambaroo, Toowoomba, Gunnedah, Caringbah, Woolloomooloo, Dalveen, Tamborine, Engadine, Jindabyne, Lithgow, Casino, Brigalow, Narromine, Megalong, Wyong, Tuggeranong, Wanganella, Morella, Augathella, Brindabella
Wollongong, Geelong, Kurrajong, Mullumbimby, Mittagong, Molong, Grong Grong, Goondiwindi, Yarra Yarra, Boroondara, Wallangarra, Turramurra, Boggabri, Gundagai, Narrabri, Tibooburra, Gulgong, Adelong, Billabong, Cabramatta, Parramatta, Wangaratta, Coolangatta
Ettalong, Dandenong, Woodenbong, Ballarat, Canberra, Milperra, Unanderra, Captains Flat, Cloncurry, River Murray, Kurri Kurri, Girraween, Terrigal, Stockinbingal, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Bendigo, Dorrigo, Bangalow, Indooroopilly, Kirribilli, Yeerongpilly, Wollondilly
New Zealand version
Kaparoa, Whangaroa, Akaroa, Motueka, Taramoa, Benmore, Pongaroa, Horoeka, Rimutaka, Te Karaka, Whangarei, Nuhaka, Waimahaka, Motuhura, Waikaka, Motunui, Hokonui, Papanui, Wainui, Matawai, Rongotai, Pikowai
Woodville, Dargaville, Lumsden, Katikati, Naseby, Cambridge, Porirua, Mararoa, Hastings, Tikitiki, Tauranga, Auckland, Naenae, Waitaha, Hamilton, Poroporo, Taupo, Timaru, Oamaru, Tihoi, Awanui, Wanganui, Pauanui
Featherston, Palmerston, Woolston, Te Awamutu, Riverton, Queenstown, Picton, Ohinemutu, Morere, Korere, Rotorua, Kaikoura, Matamata, Ruakura, Ikamatua, Papakura, Waitaki, Pukaki, Taranaki, Te Kauwhata, Ropata, Ikowai, Waitemata
Ruatoki, Matahura, Taupiri, Maketu, Kyeburn, Sowburn, Wedderburn, Mossburn, Washdyke, Arawhata, Paparoa, Kaponga, Teraha, Thames, Kerikeri, Kokoma, Tapanui, Porinui, Tawanui, Otahuhu, Ruatapu, Mosgiel, Whareroa
Kapiti, Ngawaka, Onepu, Reporoa, Tongariro, Tomoana, Renwick, Papamoa, Karitane, Oxford, Parihaka, Karetu, Coalgate, Whitecliffs, Urenui, Mamaku, Waimea, Waharoa, Dannevirke, Ngahere, Gordonton, Kingston, Oban
Australian towns in bold signify the 7 towns not yet visited by Alec.
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