In the town of Wangaratta in 1905, William (Bill) canny and a colleague co-founded a firm that consisted of two wagons and four Clydesdales. In this horse-drawn set up they carted furniture, machinery and anything else that a horse could pull. Most of these deliveries were around the Wangaratta area and sometimes to Melbourne. In those days, a load of furniture to Melbourne would cost around £10 with a journey of 5 days!
Five years after starting the business, the partner retired and Bill was joined by his son, Len, who was Brian’s father. The company name, W Canny & Son, was then created. Later on, Bill’s other sons – Jack and Cliff – joined the business and helped it grow along with other family members.
Canny’s purchased their first truck in the 1920’s when motorised vehicles came into existence, the price of petrol was approximately .4cents a litre! Soon thereafter the fleet expanded to cope with the increase in business from local petrol, oil and fertiliser agencies. In those early years, the company established important customer relationships with a number of growing businesses, many of which it retains today.
The business’ turning point was the railway strike of 1959 – the same year Bill Canny died. The strike transformed Canny’s from a small, local firm into a major interstate transport company. During the three-month strike, Canny’s and other truck operators handled all the work normally reserved for rail.
But, while the railway strike initially boosted business, a number of state governments throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s tried to claw back the railways’ business by limiting the work of trucking firms. This involved imposing road taxes on trucks and made it illegal to transport certain goods intrastate by road.
These goods could only be carted intrastate by road if they were first taken across the NSW border and then reloaded on to another truck which could then transport them back into Victorian towns. This legal loophole, which arose from a section of the Australian Constitution allowing free trade between states, led to Canny’s establishing Mulwala Trading Company in separate premises over the NSW border in Mulwala.
Mulwala Trading Company and Canny’s operated in concert until the restrictions were finally lifted and trucks were allowed free access to all types of freight. During this time, the business continued to expand and changed its name to the present one – Canny Carrying Co.
By the late 1980s, Brian and his brother Jack’s wife, Dorothy, were directors of the business. At this time, the company had expanded its operations beyond the capabilities of the original site in Wangaratta. Canny’s moved to new premises, which it retains today, in Murrell Street, Wangaratta, then in 1990, the company established a 2-hectare Melbourne depot in West Footscray.
Over one hundred years on……
Today, the fifth generation family business operates depots in Wangaratta and Melbourne and work out of depots in Sydney and Brisbane. There is 60 staff, including drivers, mechanics and office personnel. Brian, in his 80’s is still surrounded by family, including his sons, Greg and Rodney, who are now co-directors alongside their father. Greg manages the Melbourne depot and Rodney manages the Wangaratta depot. The latest members to join the business, to make it five generations in the business is Rod’s son Jai and daughter Kayla who both work out of the Wangaratta depot.
Since the 90’s the Melbourne depot has progressed into becoming a modern facility that accommodates the high demand of the industry, currently situated in the industrial hub of the Western suburb Derrimut with its 2400 square metre depot it is state of the art.
The company maintains a fleet of 30 prime movers, 22 rigid and tray trucks. 55 trailers and 2 side loaders, which cart general freight from Wangaratta to Melbourne and back each day. Trucks also operate daily from Wangaratta to Sydney and Albury to Melbourne as well as week from Wangaratta to Brisbane.