Over the past 40 years John Leeds has built a significant family-owned business covering millions of kilometres on roads that can be lucky to see a grader every two years.
Leeds Transport operates in some of the most remote corners of Australia, servicing cattle stations in an area primarily covering Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne and Ashburton regions of Western Australia.
In any given week Leeds Transports’ nine prime movers can be found carting northern pastoral cattle to southern backgrounding operations, feedlots, saleyards and abattoirs and delivering cattle to ports across the north for the shipping trade.
Leeds Transport also carries cattle in and out of the Northern Territory and transports herd bulls from Queensland across to northern WA stations during the annual spring bull selling season.
Like every other northern cattle transporting business, the company’s turnover was dramatically impacted by the June 2011 suspension of exports to Indonesia and subsequent quota cutbacks. However, but Mr Leeds said recent permit increases had sparked a strong recovery in export-related business in the second half of this year.
John and his wife Pam started Leeds Transport with a single Dodge truck in 1972. The company remains very much a family business with Pam still doing the books and sons Justin and Matthew and their wives Jodie and Melinda deeply involved in the day to day operations.
In addition to its transporting operations Leeds Transport also owns a live export cattle holding depot and a farm near Perth.
From 1991 to 2005 the company also owned Pardoo Station at Port Hedland.
“We tried to retire from the business and go back to my grass roots which was being on stations,” John explained.
“It was the most magnificent life anyone could ask for, we had 80km of coastline.
“If it wasn’t for the cyclones we’d still be there.
“Unfortunately the cyclones hammered the hell out of Pardoo while we were there, and we had to make a business decision to sell it and crank the cattle transport again to survive.”
In the mid-1990s Mr Leeds and Dennis Buntine from Territory Transport Sales designed a seven-deck trailer to fit within the maximum allowable length limitations of 53.5m. The innovation effectively enables each prime mover to transport an extra deck of cattle compared to six deck triple-road trains. Now 70pc of the prime movers that leave the company’s depot at Bullsbrook north of Perth travel north pulling seven decks (More on the seven-deck trailer will feature in a separate story to appear later in Beef Central’s Top 25 Livestock Transporters feature).
Mr Leeds said working hard to ensure drivers were properly trained was of paramount importance to running a successful livestock transporting business.
“I am still very traditional,” he said. “I don’t go throwing any cowboy behind the wheel of a triple road train, you have to earn your stripes here.”
Lot 36 Great Northern Hwy
Bullsbrook WA 6084
P – (08) 9571 4742
F – (08) 9571 4743
John Leeds 0429 686 935
Justin Leeds 0417 903 066
Matthew Leeds 0419 912 390