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Published 06 November 2013 11:11, Updated 07 November 2013 07:53
Cutting the fat . . . Peter Fox, left, and his chief executive Michael Byrne want to look after their drivers. Photo: Rob Homer
Peter Fox doesn’t care about Tony Abbott’s plans to axe the carbon tax.
“We’re not going to drop off on the environmental agenda now, because I reckon some of the things Al Gore said are right,” the 51-year-old Fox says. “Regardless of what he [Abbott] does, we’re not going to change.”
Fox, the son of trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, who started the family business in Melbourne in 1956, can afford to do what he wants. The Fox empire, which includes not just trucking but also commercial properties, the Armaguard cash security brand, and Victoria’s Avalon and Essendon airports, is worth close to $2 billion.
“We’re different,” acknowledges Fox, who chairs the Linfox group businesses. “We’re a family-owned organisation, we’ve got a different DNA.”
But mindful of becoming “complacent” Linfox is well on track to meet its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions target by 50 per cent by 2015 (it is down 36 per cent to date) and Fox is on to the next challenge: improving the health of its 21,000 logistics workers, including more than 5000 truckers who work up to 14-hour shifts.
“We preach that we take care of our people, but if they’re having hamburgers and potato cakes and fried fish and takeaway food, it’s not necessarily the best nutrition,” he says. “I don’t think we have the answers right now, but if you walk through the warehouses at the commencement of a shift, it makes good sense for our people to do five or 10 minutes of stretching before they start going and picking up cartons, and to have a proper procedure to get yourself in and out of a truck.”
By looking after employees better, the company will attract talented people, Fox argues, as well as keeping blue-chip customers that expect high standards of performance. These include miners BHP Billiton, British supermarket group Tesco in Asia and multinational consumer goods group Unilever.