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Thread: Billionaire Truck Driver Lindsay Fox

  1. Default Billionaire Truck Driver Lindsay Fox

    Lindsay Fox's company had its best year ever and helped raise the Australian's worth to $1.5 billion.



    The global economic downturn was bad news for most businesses but not for the one belonging to Australian trucking billionaire Lindsay Fox. Suntanned after a Christmas break at his $20 million beach house in Portsea, near Melbourne, Fox responded bluntly to questions about tough times: "No, no, no. It's the best year in the history of the company. Most of our business is FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods], food and beverages, plus we do a lot in the mining sector. Everyone's eating more at home, everyone's drinking, and everybody who's a miner is digging."
    The downturn boosted demand for chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and beverages, items that his 5,000 red-and-yellow trucks deliver. (Signs on the backs of all trucks read: "You are now passing another Fox.") Alcohol sales were up 5.9% in Australia last year, good news again for Fox, whose privately held Linfox says it carts a bit more than half of the country's booze. It also moves 5.4 billion liters (1.4 billion gallons) of gas, $51 billion worth of retail products and a million tons of timber a year.
    Fox, 72, who dropped out of school at age 16 and bought a secondhand truck, is now worth $1.5 billion, $500 million more than a year ago and enough to rank No. 10 among Australia's 40 Richest. Linfox, which also owns Melbourne's second- and third-biggest airports as well as the Armaguard cash-transport business, has $3 billion in sales, up from less than $2 billion in fiscal 2007. Net profits, which the company does not disclose, are conservatively estimated to be $100 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. Linfox does claim that ebit, ebitda and free cash were all up about 20% in the past year.


    Its biggest division, Linfox Logistics, which includes the trucking, has picked up three smaller logistics firms in the past four years, boosting revenues from $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion. That is still less than half that of Australia's biggest logistics group, Toll Holdings, which got its start in 1888. But Fox has bragging rights: He is worth more than twice as much as Toll's managing director, Paul Little, who is part of a buyout team that took over the company in 1986 and is No. 29 among Australia's 40 Richest.
    With just under $500 million in sales in nine countries outside of Australia and New Zealand, Linfox is particularly focusing on a few key markets. "China, India, Thailand and Indonesia are the four exciting countries for us," says Michael Byrne, the self-described "hired help," who has been chief executive of Linfox Logistics for almost four years. Linfox is already quite big in Thailand, where the company has 2,000 staff and 500 tractor-trailers carting groceries for British supermarket giant Tesco ( TESO - news - people ). In India large customers include Tata and Unilever. The logistics business has had a foothold in China for over a decade, including at a couple of inland sites away from Shanghai and Beijing. At the next board meeting in April a key topic will be Asian acquisitions. "We could spend $250 million without too much difficulty," says Byrne.
    One way Linfox hopes to distinguish itself in other parts of Asia is by playing up the firm's safety measures. "In many Asian countries, the law as written is not complied with," Byrne says, noting that two big problems are dangerously long driving hours and overloading. Linfox, he says, applies exactly the same stringent safety standards to its truck fleets in each country. Where rules are not as strictly enforced, notably Vietnam and Indonesia, the company runs warehousing operations but no trucking business.
    Fox has for several years been running a safety campaign to reduce truck accidents. He's bent the ear of many an Australian government minister and now, as a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) business advisory council, he's taking the campaign to the rest of Asia. At the council's February meeting, in Melbourne, Fox dragged the 22 APEC reps to his truck-testing complex two hours west of Melbourne to show them the "black box" GPS monitoring system he proposes, which records driver distances, rest breaks, speed and even gear changes.
    Of course, tougher safety enforcement will benefit a sophisticated company like Linfox, which can afford to spend $2,200 on each GPS system. It is putting them in more than a thousand of its Australian trucks this year. The safety issue seems to have become an obsession: Visitors to the logistics division's shiny new headquarters at an industrial park near Essendon Airport are required to read the rules for climbing stairs, which include instructions to concentrate, hold the handrail and use the elevator if you're wearing heels. There's even a photo of a particularly nasty staircase that caused three tumbles last year.
    Fox says his APEC responsibilities and safety campaign take up a fair bit of time. He handed the executive chairmanship of the Linfox group to his eldest son, Peter, 15 years ago. Another son, Andrew, runs the property division and his third son, David, the airports. Daughter Katrina is involved in publicity. His role? "Senior citizen," he quips.

    Source: Forbes
    I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.

  2. #2
    chrisrogers123 Guest

    Default Re: Billionaire Truck Driver Lindsay Fox

    Lindsay Fox, the trucking magnate whose company is on track to bring in $3 billion this financial year, faces a big succession challenge.

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