Words By Suzy Grinter
Photo By Minori Ueda
“There are very few female bosses in the Australian trucking industry “
A hot summer’s day during peak season will see Elaine Bertoncini join her team, packing cartons and assisting with moving an entire household in shorts and t-shirt. It’s a far cry from the corporate, city environment of her early career in bookkeeping.
Elaine came to Australia in her early twenties to visit family and with a view to transferring her job to Sydney. Expecting sunshine and blue skies, she arrived mid-winter to be met by freezing temperatures. Disappointed, Elaine travelled north to stay with friends in Mossman, something of a culture shock after the city life of Birmingham, UK.
Finding a casual job at Coral Coaches, Elaine met her husband to be, and her future was sealed.
“Three years later, Stephen was working as a mechanic at Coral Coaches and needed to earn a little extra cash for a trip to take the kids to meet their English grandparents. He decided to start a furniture removal business and after borrowing a small truck from his Dad’s mower business, buying a few removal blankets and distributing some cheap business cards, Mossman Easy Movers was born,” says Elaine
From one small truck serving the local population of Port Douglas and surrounds, the business quickly grew as it took on a regular delivery service from the major furniture stores of Cairns.
Port Douglas was a growing tourist destination and identifying an opportunity to expand, another truck was purchased to commence weekly interstate removals.
“Our first truck, nicknamed Betsy, had no air conditioning and left a lot to be desired, but 21 years later, we now have a fleet of well maintained, reliable vehicles and storage facilities. We became accredited with Queensland Government and Toll Transitions, and our business took off.
Reflecting the growth of the business throughout the region, Mossman Easy Movers was abbreviated to M.E.M. and finally registered as M.E.M. Removals and Storage in 2000.
“Our focus has and always will be to look after the locals, and our strong customer service ethic, shared by all our team, has seen us continue to grow and prosper” says Elaine.
“It’s been tough being a woman in this business. There’s very few female bosses in the trucking industry in Australia, traditionally a male domain. At the start, Stephen handled operations, and I managed the administration side of the business. In 2009, Stephen was pulled away to help in another family business and I really had to step up to the challenge of running MEM. But we have a great team and we all look after one another.
“I have an HR licence, and a forklift licence. I don’t drive the trucks, but I can,” says Elaine.
218 Spence St, Bungalow QLD 4870 | 1800 003 838 | www.memremovalsandstorage.com.au