Long established Pronto Concrete goes about its business with quiet efficiency, running around 150 trucks in its agitator fleet in Victoria and Queensland and obviously benefitting from the strong brand it has built in a highly competitive industry.
Pronto is said to be Australia’s first pre-mixed concrete business, established in the 1940s as part of the Barro Group. David Barro arrived in Australia from Italy in 1936 and went on to set up Barro Group, which today is a portfolio of concrete and building materials businesses headquartered in Melbourne.
Among the major projects Pronto has delivered concrete to in the last couple of years are the multi-billion dollar Wonthaggi desalination plant (200,000 cubic metres) in southern Victoria, and the Federal Government’s $400 million quarantine facility (50,000 cubic metres) at Mickleham, north of Melbourne.
The Pronto fleet works out of 16 plants in Melbourne and Geelong in Victoria, and five plants in Queensland in Townsville, Gladstone, Hervey Bay and Brisbane (Ipswich and Mt Cotton). Sub-contractors have a strong presence in the business, providing around 60% of the fleet.
“We were almost exclusively a company-owned agitator fleet, but as our business has expanded, sub-contractors have become an important part of the operation, especially to maintain high customer service levels,” says Walter Ferronato, Pronto’s production and transport manager.
He points out that 15 years ago Japanese trucks dominated at Pronto. However, a “change of ideologies” saw the move to bigger trucks with increased payload capacity, and that meant Mack and Iveco gaining ascendancy.
Now, the Freightliner CL112 Columbia chassis is getting a foothold in the fleet.
In fact, of the last 30 new trucks that have gone into service with Pronto, 22 have been 8×4 Freightliner CL112 units powered by the Cummins ISLe5, an 8.9-litre engine employing selective catalytic reduction/AdBlue for emissions reduction.
“Our preference currently for new company-owned trucks is the Freightliner, and we’re also referring our sub-contractors to Freightliner,” says Walter Ferronato.
He says the Cummins ISLe5 has been “exceptionally reliable”, so much so that Pronto wouldn’t consider another engine option, even if it was available.
“As long as it is serviced and maintained properly, the ISLe5 is basically bullet proof,” he states. “You just can’t beat it in this application.”
Walter Ferronato knows all about concrete. His connection with Pronto dates back 40 years when his father was production manager for the company and Walter worked in the operation during holidays.
“I did my first load of concrete when I was 14 and my 13-year-old brother was behind me with another load,” he laughs today.
Walter ‘officially’ started with Pronto 33 years ago at the age of 17, and it’s easy to see he takes immense pride in the business model that has been established over the years and that an astute acumen drives each and every business decision.
He says “economic value” is dictating the preference for the Freightliner-Cummins combination.
He adds with certainty there are no question marks over the performance of the ISLe5 which is operating at 340 hp in the Freightliners. “It’s important to be able to hold road speed in traffic and the Cummins has the grunt to do that,” he says.
He rates reliability of the Freightliner cab-chassis highly, while noting that the cab offers good comfort, excellent visibility – especially over the aggressively sloped bonnet – and good manoeuvrability in tight spots. The power take-off (PTO) adaptation for the barrel is also a plus for bodybuilders.
Importantly, Daimler Trucks Melbourne has forged a strong relationship with Pronto ensuring ongoing support.
For Pronto, there have been no surprises with the Freightliner CL112 while the Cummins ISLe5 with SCR technology is meeting the company’s high expectations. In fact, the concrete evidence is that it’s business as usual at Pronto.
Economic value is dictating Pronto’s preference for the Freightliner-Cummins combination.
Walter Ferronato, Pronto’s production and transport manager (centre) with Daimler Trucks Melbourne dealer principal Michael May (left) and Cummins automotive OEM business manager Sergio Carboni.