Heated, quenched, tempered – hardened.
The industry is not geared for a small player with big ideas. This is at once the challenge and the opportunity for TransVolution.
TransVolution commenced life as a father-and-son team looking to bring new equipment ideas and operational practices to the rail industry. Roger and Aaron Hore came across Masked Fox as its founder was looking to walk away from rail operations. They quickly expanded their vision of revolutionising the industry through innovative equipment and consulting to include transport services and they took over the Masked Fox business.
As a highly capital-intensive industry, stakeholders in the rail industry are generally set up to deal with corporations with many tiers of decision makers, long lead times, historical practices and elongated processes to bring innovation to market. This, along with being new at a time when the industry was wary of smaller players, caused most stakeholders to set a very high standard for Masked Fox. An officer of the rail safety regulator explained that the threshold for a newcomer is higher because once an operator is accredited it is very difficult for the regulator to take away an accreditation.
During the accreditation process, the Hore family found Masked Fox had a history which set many in the industry against the new business. They set about revitalising it, bringing in a new management team and rebranding as TransVolution in November 2014 following the formal acquisition.
The process of accreditation was a very hot time for TransVolution. Many in the industry were testing the resolve of the new kid on the block. The scrutiny ensured that TransVolution’s foundational processes and methodologies are industry best practice. One by one, TransVolution passed the hurdles set by authorities, safety regulators, network providers, suppliers, insurers and financiers. The reward for persevering through this furnace was accreditation from the National Rail Safety Regulator. In September 2015, TransVolution became the only multi-state rail freight company to enter the market in over a decade and the first to be accredited by the new national regulator.
As with the process of hardening steel, the next period for TransVolution was a quenching. The accreditation process had taken longer than expected and the market opportunities that inspired early optimism had passed. TransVolution needed to do the hard slog of seeking out new opportunities.
Along with the new opportunities came the tempering process. Once again, the fresh and nimble player in the market was seeking to work with an industry that was struggling to respond to a player that didn’t look and act and feel like the rest of the industry. However, some industry stakeholders recognised that it was this very difference which had created the opportunity that TransVolution was now trying to get off the ground. And with their support, TransVolution has successfully established a first train service which is set to commence from a newly-developed intermodal freight terminal.
This is the beginning of our story. The story of how, like hardened steel, the early challenges caused us to be heated, quenched and tempered to give us stability and toughness and make us ready to revolutionise the rail industry – whether they are ready for us or not.