WHAT MAKES A 100 YEAR-OLD COMPANY SUDDENLY TAKE THE BOLD STEP OF BUYING A NEW CRANE-EQUIPPED EIGHT-LEGGER TO ‘GO HEAVY’? ANDY ADAMS FINDS OUT…
You could be forgiven for wondering what a lady called Sarah Elizabeth Broscombe and her horses and carts might have to do with today’s haulage world, especially when the going gets heavy.
The answer is that just over 100 years ago, Sarah started a business carrying materials and finished goods for the burgeoning engineering industry in the county of Yorkshire. And 100 years later, her name lives on, gracing one of the most impressive small fleets in the UK – SE Broscombe, based in Huddersfield.
With a century of history behind it and still a proud family firm, SE Broscombe clearly knows what it takes to stay in business. “We stick to what we know. If something is working well, we see no reason to change it,” says operations director Dan Brooke, with typical Yorkshire honesty.
When a business opportunity presented itself recently in the shape of more work, if a heavier duty truck-mounted crane could be brought onto the fleet, however, the firm quickly took the bold decision to invest, opting for a DAF CF 8×2 to base the equipment on.
The decision to ‘get heavy’ quickly proved to be the right one, with a regular haulage contract for shifting heavy industrial gearboxes weighing up to 10 tonnes apiece being secured almost immediately.
SE Broscombe’s CF ticks a lot of boxes, says Brooke. “The new HMF 60 tonne-metre crane lifts 10 tonnes at truck side and 3.3 tonnes up to 14.6 metres away. The weight is great, but it is the reach that is increasingly critical to our operations now. It lets us talk to a lot more customers about this level of work than ever we could when we only had a lighter Hiab unit,” he explains.
“The major difference, of course, is that the CF itself is so much lighter than comparable quality trucks. Even with the big crane, we comfortably get a genuine 10-tonne payload on it. Its lift and steer axles also give us terrific manoeuvrability on building and construction sites, which is vital when you have to get heavy loads into just the right spot,” he adds. “We’d been farming a lot of heavier work out before, with all that can mean in terms of additional management time and loss of control – now we don’t have to.”
It’s not involved in the high-profile end of the heavy haulage business, but SE Broscombe certainly packs a punch in the sector in which it has invested and that investment continues apace. When we spoke with the company, it was poised to buy two further tractive units, both high-power trucks with single and twin-wheel lifting tag axles respectively.
“We work in partnership with a number of high-profile heavy haulage specialists carrying their smaller loads, so we’re not looking to compete with them,” says Brooke. “What these two vehicles will do, however, is allow us to ‘plate up’ and get on with some Cat 1 and Cat 2 STGO work, if called upon by our existing customers.
“The intention has always been to focus on direct customer work, helping heavy haulage firms as and where we could,” he continues. “I have some very good friends in the top end of heavy haulage, so it was an easy call to make in aligning ourselves with them. The work they give us is quite varied, so we need to be sure we can respond when they need us.”
While SE Broscombe carries out a lot of general haulage work, its operation includes some long-standing specialist contracts.
One of these takes it onto sites when major food distribution operations need back-up boiler and generator installations – typically to cope with emergencies or short-term refurbishment work.
These can be large and heavy loads, frequently involving tight locations, early morning and late night operations, and some very short timetables.
“It is demanding work, but when there’s a crisis, customers don’t want to hear about how tough our life is. They just expect us to get in and get on with it!” says Brooke.
More recent work includes moving large dust extraction units for a major luxury car manufacturer, he says. And having the DAF CF specified for ADR compliance has also won the firm new work carrying intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) of chemicals onto sewage treatment sites. All ideal crane work, of course, and all requiring the increased payload capacity afforded by the new rig.
TRIED AND TESTED
SE Broscombe likes to carry out its own service and maintenance work at its Huddersfield workshop. Brooke himself is a time-served DAF apprentice fitter and the firm also employs a fully-trained, full-time fitter there. Though DAF isn’t the only marque in Broscombe’s 15-strong tractor fleet, it remains an important brand for the company, Brooke says.
“We’ve run DAFs for many a year; for us, they’re tried and tested,” he comments. “Fuel consumption is always good and they never miss a beat. We reckon they’re among the best – if not the very best – rigids you can buy.”
The extra payload the firm’s new CF allows is already being put to good use but the truck’s flexibility looks set to grow shortly, he adds. “The chassis was specified as a drawbar and we’re genuinely excited about the added business opportunities this will bring, when it is operational,” he explains.
SE Broscombe likes to kit its trucks out to high standards, with items such as TVs, microwaves, fridges and other comforts and each truck fitted as appropriate to the work being done. Unsurprisingly, the operator finds its drivers tend to stick around, the majority of them working for the company for a good many years already.
With its family focus, its willingness to invest, its loyal workforce and its growing reputation – not least its growing one in the heavier end of the market – not many would bet against SE Broscombe being around and successful for another 100 years at least.