toyota community partnerships

How Toyota for Business keeps the wheels turning

3 min read


Wash the exterior and underside of the vehicle with fresh water immediately after driving through seawater to prevent damage.

In this Q&A series, we talk to community leaders and Toyota fleet partners who have proven they can take on tough challenges and come out on top.

Mary-Ann Strelow has over 30 years’ experience in the specialty fleet business. She co-owns FleetCrew, a business that ensures tradies and miners have the perfect vehicle set-up. A life-long Toyota advocate, she knows better than anyone how to keep the wheels turning in outback Queensland. It seems like her secret to success is knowing what she does well and focusing on doing it right.


Toyota Genuine Accessories [P4] shown.

You work with some really specific industries in mining and construction. Was this a conscious decision? Is that where your previous experience led you when you launched FleetCrew?

The short version is that I was working for a company called 4-Wheel-Drive Hire Service. We started renting vehicles to different industries and then the company grew from there and then we merged with Sargent Truck Lease.

I left there with our CFO Ben Harris, and we decided that we would start a business by ourselves doing the same thing. So, we purchased a local mechanical workshop because we had always managed our own vehicle maintenance. Then a few months after we decided to start renting 4-wheel-drive vehicles, we came up with the name FleetCrew. Ten years later, here we are.

Can you tell us about the kind of partnership you’ve had with Toyota?

I’ve been in the industry over 30 years and we’ve only ever rented Toyotas. They are still the most reliable and the toughest vehicles out there. Now, that’s not saying they haven’t had the challenges like recalls, things that happen, just like every other manufacturer. But the relationship is open and we can have a discussion with all different levels of management all the way to the top and because we’ve been a supporter of them for so long, they do their best to help us out.

We have a wonderful relationship with Toyota Fleet Management, business is about long-term relationships. We’re very loyal to Toyota, Toyota Financial as well as Toyota Motor Corporation and they realise that. I’m not saying we don’t have challenges, but at the same time you can speak to people and get an answer and understand, well that’s halfway to the solution and our business is very solution-driven.

“The reason we are a Toyota business is the fact that they are still the most reliable and the toughest vehicles out there.”

- Mary-Ann Strelow, co-founder of FleetCrew Australia

COVID-19 has affected everyone. Can you talk about some of the specific challenges that it has caused for your clients and your business?

Obviously mining was affected due to COVID-19 measures such as social distancing, which presented a challenge but the solution was to put fewer people in the vehicles. Which meant they required more vehicles.

So, when they announced social distancing, we decided to send our vehicles to areas where we knew the larger mining and resource companies play the game. If we've got the vehicles there, the time will come that they'll need them. So we took the risk of relocating the vehicles where possible. And about a week later, we got phone calls from our majors saying that, OK, we're going to put two people out instead of four.

As a woman working 30 years ago in male-dominated industries did you find that it was a challenge, or was it almost an opportunity in disguise?

I saw it as an opportunity and a challenge. I think you need to just completely back yourself. If you think you're the right person for that role, then back yourself. And if you don't get it, well, then what can you learn from that? And if you do get it, then make sure you make a difference.

And remember how hard it was for the women before you. Thirty years ago, there were definitely an awful lot of men that were dominating.

What advice do you have for people looking at starting a new business? You obviously specialised and catered to really specific industries, would you recommend a similar approach?

So my first question would be, why do you want to go into business? Because it's an awful lot of work. There's a lot of risk, and you have to be motivated for whatever field you want to play in.

I think you have to really challenge yourself if you want to go into business.

When you have a job, there are parts that you like and parts you don't like. If you're in business, there will still be parts you don't like. When you first start, you've got to do everything and then you need to decide ‘alright I'm going to do everything, but the first thing I'm going to outsource is what I'm not good at, which is A, B or C.’ And then as you put people on, make sure you ask yourself, ‘what are my shortcomings?’. Surround yourself with the people that can help.

Fantastic advice. Thank you so much for chatting with us today Mary-Ann and good luck with the future, hopefully a more predictable one.

Covid-19 won't be the last surprise for those in business. There have always been and always will be plenty of twists and turns and other obstacles on the road. Great business leaders are those who can adapt quickly, those who turn lemons into prize-winning lemonade. By partnering with Toyota, FleetCrew were able to act quickly and provide a winning solution for their partners; keeping people in work and the wheels of industry turning.

Our Toyota for Business team has the expertise to tailor the exact package your business needs, everything from recommending the right vehicle for the job to designing the perfect management plan. From 1 to 1,000 vehicles we can help with procurement, management, disposal and renewal. Find out how we can help you and your business.

speak with an expert

{{ disclaimer.title }}