What it does: Warehousing, Transport and Air & Ocean freight
Team member stats: Around 8,000
The good bits: Culture & atmosphere
The not so good bits: Long hours
The Mainfreight story
Mainfreight was founded in 1978 by Bruce Plested with NZ$7,200 of capital and an old truck. In 1982 New Zealand deregulated it’s freight and transport markets allowing Mainfreight to grow. Unlike its competitors, Mainfreight operated 24/7 and soon overtook large stakeholders due to a well-earned reputation. In 1984, Mainfreight launched Mainfreight Air & Ocean, an international sea and airfreight business. In 1989 Mainfreight opened a depot in Sydney and unveiled Mainfreight Australia. Offices in Melbourne and Brisbane were subsequently opened. Mainfreight, which remains headquartered in Auckland, now boasts 260 branches in 24 countries across the globe. The company listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in 1996. In 2019 it had revenues of NZD $2.95 billion (AUD $2.79 billion).
Mainfreight is built on a 100-year vision. What this means is that all decisions made today are with the intention that the company will still be around in a hundred years’ time. This view shapes their approach to recruitment and training of team members, customer and supplier relationships, growth strategies and legal and tax structures.
“Special People, Special Company” embodies Mainfreight and its unique culture. Mainfreight promotes people from within, and encourages innovative, non-hierarchical and decisive outlooks. The team regard each other as a family and share mealtimes. Every branch reports weekly results that are available for all team members to see. Individual responsibility and accountability for quality are reinforced. Key performance indicators are important to their customers and these factors are linked to team members’ bonuses. All Mainfreight branches have quality boards and are internally audited every six months.
Mainfreight operates in hundreds of communities around the world and actively seeks out ways to immerse themselves in and support the communities they are a part of.
Mainfreight’s Books in Homes program provides books to families and children living in remote and low socioeconomic circumstances across Australia and throughout the world.
Team members are encouraged to be present at the book giving assemblies and are involved in mentoring programs. Currently they support over 85 schools. This means over 25,000 children every year are getting new books to read thanks to Mainfreight’s support.
The company seeks to minimise its environmental impact. It operates one of the largest private solar-energy installations in New Zealand. It also embraces environmentally friendly new technologies, efficiencies and energy sources wherever possible.
The recruitment process
Mainfreight has quickly grown over the last four decades and plans on continuing to do so over the next 100 years. With that objective in mind, Mainfreight’s graduate program is designed to attract the next generation of future leaders to take our global business to the world.
The grad program is considered unstructured and doesn’t involve set pathways or fixed rotations. For the first 6-18 months, you can expect to learn the fundamentals of how Mainfreight’s business works, acclimatise yourself to Mainfreight’s unique culture and get your ‘hands dirty’. The onus is on graduates to work out which area or areas of the business interests them and then strive to pursue it. Or, as the company puts it, “Whether that be with sales, operations, IT or a leadership role, it’s up to you to build your brand and make yourself stand out at Mainfreight”.
Mainfreight’s two year grad program has a rolling intake, with the company constantly recruiting future leaders. Applicants need to have either completed their degree or be in their final semester to start the application process. Graduates from all university disciplines are eligible to apply for the grad program.
To apply, you’ll need to send a copy of your CV and cover letter. It is important that your cover letter highlights your qualities and achievements and explains why you’re a good fit for Mainfreight. If successful, the Mainfreight team will ask you to participate in a phone interview. If that goes well, you’ll be invited to partake in a face-to-face interview. The final hurdle is a face-to-face interview with one of Mainfreight’s branch managers. Reference checks and police checks are also completed and taken into consideration.
Mainfreight is a rapidly expanding international business, so there’s no shortage of overseas postings on offer. That noted, before packing your bags you can expect to spend your first few years in Australia building your knowledge, skills and understanding of the Mainfreight way. From there, providing you have passion, the Mainfreight culture and possess the appropriate skills for the role, the Mainfreight world is your oyster.
The vibe of the place
While it’s no longer a small business, Mainfreight has worked hard to maintain a family business atmosphere. It promotes from within and it encourages team members to have innovative, non-hierarchical and decisive outlooks and regard each other as a family.
Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5