From junk mail to political propaganda, Salmat handles it all

on the forklift Allan Button Andrew Giles Corey White in the warehouse at Salmat

From junk mail to political propaganda, Salmat handles it all



LOVE OR HATE it, most people have received junk mail.

Salmat in Prospect is one of two companies delivering this unaddressed mail in Tasmania.

Started in Sydney in 1979, it expanded into Tasmania in the late 1980s and is now international with operations in New Zealand and the Philippines.

Its Prospect office cum warehouse manages all its catalogue mail deliveries in Tasmania, sometimes, as many as three million items per week.

Andrew Giles, who heads up its Tasmanian division, says, “20 years ago, when I started, there were very few catalogues going out. There wasn’t a lot happening. These days it is a very different scene.”

He sees the company as more into freighting than anything else, with a constant stream of printed catalogues being delivered, split up and couriered on to distributors state-wide, all with a tight turnaround.

Small customers, as well as large, are catered for. As an example, it delivers Meander Valley Gazette to homes in Prospect Vale and Hadspen, as are several other community newspapers in Tasmania.

Salmat strives to stay ahead of technology. “We are really good at doing what people want now, but probably even better at doing (that) in 2 or 3 years’ time,” Andrew comments.

Customers are able to pick and choose areas they would like their brochures delivered and do this using statistical data about who buys what, where and when, all collected from a number of sources that includes Salmat.

“At the end of the day what we do is dependant on what people want. We try and look after them as much as possible,” says Andrew.

Using smaller owner operators to transport catalogues around Tasmania has proven a successful policy. For example, Country Couriers distributes to the Deloraine and Westbury areas.

Andrew explains, “We find  if we get people like that, we build a relationship. Usually, (their) guy picking up from here drops off at the other end so we get  communication between our people.

(And) they are very good at keeping a close eye on what’s going on. If they think  something is not quite right, they tell us straight away. They notice if bundles are left on someone’s verandah.”

Recruiting people to deliver catalogues into letterboxes has become more of a challenge nationally. Up until a few years ago Andrew would put an ad in The Examiner and wait for the phone to ring. That method does not work anymore.

These days he uses Gumtree or a letterbox drop in the area he is looking to recruit in. As it is not particularly well-paid work, itsworkers tend to have other reasons for  participating, such as fitness or parents helping their children to develop a work  ethic.

That said, the crew of letterbox distributors are a mostly stable workforce, with only ten per cent regularly turning over. Moreover, there are a number of people in the north that have been delivering for over 20 years.

“By and large the people who deliver do a wonderful job,” says Andrew.

Interestingly, the complaints coming from people wanting junk mail and not getting it outnumber, by ten to one, objections from people not wanting it but getting it.

“People enjoy reading catalogues. If they don’t, they put a sticker on their letterbox and we don’t deliver,” Andrew adds.

 Mike Moores