FOR ABNORMAL LOAD HAULIERS THE TRUCK IS USUALLY A RELATIVELY EASY DECISION. YES, IT NEEDS TO BE SPECIFIED CORRECTLY, AND WITHOUT OVER OR UNDER SPENDING. BUT THE TRAILER NEEDED FOR ANY SPECIFIC ROLE IS USUALLY WHERE THE DEVILISH DETAIL LIES. IAN NORWELL HAS BEEN TO SEE THE UK’S PREMIUM SPECIALIST BUILDER, ANDOVER TRAILERS. HE SPOKE TO COMMERCIAL MANAGER BOB GOWANS.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CRAIG PUSEY
Andover Trailers has been in the business for over 30 years; it was formed in 1985 by three of the managers who previously worked for the well-established Tasker trailer company, also based in Andover. After 170 years in operation, that company became part of the John Brown group, and was subsequently sold on to Montracon, where the operation was quietly closed.
So much for the history, but as with so many names in the UK commercial body-building industry, the expertise doesn’t just vanish, it moves elsewhere. Among those in at the start of operations at Andover Trailers, was one of the best-known figures in the business, technical director, Leonard Fuller. He is soon to retire, and at 79, his contribution to the company, and the industry, can hardly be exaggerated. Gowans told us: “When Leonard leaves this building for the last time, an enormous body of knowledge will go with him.” But Gowans added that succession planning hadn’t been neglected, wryly observing that their seven-strong design team - which does the 3D modelling and designs before any metal gets cut - would be looked after by Giles Hopgood, an engineer with “only 25 years in the company”.
Gowans himself is a relative newcomer. His background includes a lead engineer’s post at Leyland Trucks, and latterly he was heavy truck product manager at Mercedes-Benz in the UK, where he oversaw the introduction of their Actros and Arocs lines at Euro 6. He joined Andover’s team in March 2015.