Business North July / August 2021

44 | to page 46 “It was a time of intense growth, and also a time of innovation. Dad invented a hyper-efficient specialist grain unit later called the Grain Train” Family firm expands its presence Kelly Deeks Top team : Front row, from left, Gabrielle Fitness, John Alexander, Rod Alexander, Hayley Alexander. Back row, Tonisha Chui, Miriam Mitchell, Matt Lynch, Yashmeeta Garib, Kim Holder, Hope Mackintosh. TRANSPORT Alexander Group F rom a quintessential Kiwi family cartage firm to a nationwide specialist transpor- tation brand, Alexander Group has been delivering the goods for 50 years, with strate- gic partnerships and continuous innovations keeping the company ahead of the game in the competitive world of transportation and distribution. “In the early days we were focused on local grain transportation in Tamahere, and now we specialise in the transport of dangerous and high value goods, with our main focus in gas distribution,” says Alexander Group chief executive Hayley Alexander. “We’re a lot more multi-modal. We work with rail and shipping, freight forwarders and shipping brokers, and we cover the supply chain from end-to-end.” Established in 1971 by John and Cecile Alexander, Alexander Group entered the mar- ket when the grain industry was starting to flourish. By 1976, producers were starting to export, and the Alexanders gained a Gisborne contract to ship 5,000-tonne shipments of grain, 24/7 to Mount Maunganui Port. “It was a time of intense growth, and also a time of innovation,” Hayley says. “Dad invented a hyper-efficient specialist grain unit, later dubbed the ‘Grain Train’.” Different to other trucks, the Grain Train allows contents to be bottom-dumped. It was an invention that helped the young Alexander Group to secure a three-year contract with Northern Roller Milling (NRM). By the late 1970s, a new Kiwi crop was beginning to show potential, and Alexander Group expanded into the New Zealand wine industry. “Carting bulk grapes from Gisborne to Auck- land, again an innovative response was called for,” Hayley says. “Bulk grapes are tipped straight into the truck off the harvest, and by the time they ar- rive in Auckland, they can be 70 percent liquid. “To solve the issue, we partnered with engineering firm Transport and General to de- velop a special tail board that seals the body of the truck and the tail door. This invention became the future of this type of aluminium truck body, and is still used in the industry to this day.” The grain industry was slowing by the mid 1980s, and the Alexanders continued to form relationships with New Zealand wine pioneers, becoming responsible not only for grape cart- age, but also for finished wine. The Alexander Group started to diversify in the 1980s, carting ethanol from Edgecumbe to Auckland and other destinations via the use of specialised tankers. A major milestone for the company was the development of an ethanol tanker in 1982, which established Alexander Group’s presence in the bulk tanker industry. Alexander Group continued to drive New Zealand’s wine industry forward in the 1990s, with an average of 80 to 90 million litres of wine and grape juice transported every year. “The 1990s also saw the fruition of our earli- er venture into ethanol cartage,” Hayley says. “In 1999, we secured a deal much larger than anything we had done before, delivering all of Shell’s retail, commercial, farm, aviation, oil, and LPG product in the South Island.” The group delivered a modern, efficient fleet with an optimised, 24/7 scheduling and transport solution focused on best practice and the highest possible standards of health and safe- ty management. Awarded BOC’s South Island bulk distribu- tion in 2002, and the North Island contract in 2005, Alexander Group had secured all bulk cryogenic gas deliveries throughout New Zealand. Later in the decade, Alexander Group estab- lished the origins of its intermodal arm with a coastal shipping and ISO handling depot in Marlborough for inter-island wine transfers. By 2012, Alexander Group was newly awarded with BOC’s inter-island ISO handling contract, and was supplying 100% of BOC’s New Zealand bulk deliveries and Elgas’ South Island LPG deliveries. In 2014, the customised end-to-end do- mestic and international shipping business White Caps Shipping Service was established, and proved so efficient, an ISO handling depot was set up in Glenbrook to service the Pacific Islands. Hayley says John and Cecile laid the foun- dations of innovation, best practice, quality, equipment, and being a good employer, now she and her brother, fleet manager Rod, and sister, communications manager Gabrielle Fitness, are building on those foundations. Z Energy is proud to serve businesses all over the country. With over 550 sites nationwide, our network is one of the strongest in New Zealand. Whether it’s network fuelling, bulk fuel deliveries, lubricants or direct machine refilling Z has a solution to suit all New Zealand businesses. Z is proud to support and congratulate Alexander Group in the significant milestone of their 50th Anniversary 0800 936 374 | |