BRIDGWATER, SOMERSET-BASED WHEELER AND SON TAKES THE LONG-TERM VIEW OF ALMOST ANY SITUATION IT ENCOUNTERS. IT HAS A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS OF ITS CUSTOMERS, OFFERING SPECIALIST TRANSPORT, LIFTING AND MACHINERY INSTALLATION TO THE SECTORS OF MARKET THAT IT KNOWS BEST. HEAVYTORQUE TALKS TO ITS TRANSPORT MANAGER SEAN HOWE.
After 60 years in business, there is very little that it hasn’t encountered previously and is rarely inclined to be perturbed by the ebbs and flows of business. Problem solving for customers is probably the best way to describe the operation, it has turned its hands to all manner of tasks over the years and you get the impression that there would be very little that it couldn’t handle. The company started back in 1960, when local man Gerald (Gerry) Wheeler bought a Dodge tipper and started working for the local quarries. A move into general haulage led to the operation of bigger vehicles, mainly artics and it subsequently built up a substantial fleet. Further diversification saw a move into machinery removals with the use of crane-equipped vehicles – gradually this became the focus of the operation. The skills and expertise it built up meant that the customer base expanded. Companies in many different sectors started to use Wheelers, knowing that the job would be done properly.
JIM RITCHIE HAS HAD WELL OVER 30 YEARS OF SERVICE AT CADZOW HEAVY HAULAGE AND IS STILL ACTIVE AS EVER IN THE OFFICE DEALING WITH THE EVER-INCREASING PAPERWORK AND BUREAUCRACY INVOLVED WITH RUNNING A HEAVY HAULAGE OPERATION.
This one has been a long time coming. Incredibly it’s almost four years since HeavyTorque featured Blantyre-based specialist Cadzow Heavy Haulage as it undertook the move of a large boat in Glasgow during the night. Transport manager Jim Ritchie was instrumental in organising both the move and photography. Around the same time, Ritchie and his colleague and friend Campbell Stewart were rewarded by the company for 30 years of service each. Freelance truck writer, the late and dearly missed John Henderson, arranged to take both to the Transport News Scottish Rewards breakfast that year and it was subsequently arranged for HeavyTorque to run a profile on Ritchie. Then the covid pandemic hit before anything could be arranged and everything was put on hold. Until now.
It’s a bright autumn afternoon in Cadzow’s sprawling yard, not far from the M74 motorway in South Lanarkshire. There are trucks on the road, trucks in the yard waiting to load and trucks in the workshop along with trailers. We find Jim Ritchie in a relaxed mood as we meet him in the office.
H ASKEY TRANSPORT IS A FAMILY-RUN BUSINESS SET UP OVER A CENTURY AGO WHICH NOW PROVIDES A FULL ROAD HAULAGE SERVICE AS WELL AS DISTRIBUTION AND STORAGE FOR THE DOMESTIC AND EUROPEAN MARKETS. HEAVYTORQUE TALKS TO DIRECTOR ROB ASKEY, A FIFTH-GENERATION MEMBER OF THE FAMILY.
Providing a flexible service and being able to respond to diverse customer requirements is an essential quality in almost any transport operation. If the range of services include specialist transport, lifting, installation services throughout Europe, this adds further layers of complexity to the operation. But Sheffield-based H Askey Transport has more than a little experience in adapting to changing markets demands. The company predates motor vehicles having started originally with horses in the latter years of the 19th century, providing transport for farmers and other local producers in the area. The development of steel making and heavy engineering in the locality brought new demand for specialist transport. H Askey was able to rise to the challenge and transport heavier loads longer distances to meet the needs of the new industries. For many years, steel and associated products provided a ready source of work for the company, along with many other transport operators from within the locality, but the steady decline in traditional industries in Sheffield and other areas has meant that demand for mainstream transport serving these sectors has been fading progressively over the last few decades.
PLANT HIRE COMPANY RIDGWAY RENTALS, WHICH COVERS THE WHOLE OF THE UK, IS A FAMILY-RUN BUSINESS WHICH HAS OVER 50 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE IN THE PLANT HIRE INDUSTRY AND HAS A PURPOSE-BUILT HEAD OFFICE IN SHROPSHIRE. HEAVYTORQUE INTERVIEWS RIDGWAY PLANT DIRECTOR ROB JONES
One of the issues we have in modern life is excessive choice – we are often faced with a bewildering range of options whenever we decide to buy something, making it more difficult than ever to decide which to go for. This is especially so in business, particularly when looking to choose new trucks, trailers and equipment given the complexity of modern vehicles. There is much to be said for finding a particular brand and model range that suits your requirements and whenever possible, sticking with it. Shropshire-based plant and equipment hire company Ridgway Rentals, has done just this pretty much right across its business and sees little reason to change from this policy that has served it very well for many years. For example, the large and extremely diverse fleet of plant equipment is sourced from just two manufacturers, the in-house transport fleet which carries out almost all the company’s plant movements, plus a substantial amount of third-party work, sources its trucks from two manufacturers and their local dealers.
MAR-TRAIN HEAVY HAULAGE HAS AMASSED A WIDE RANGE OF CAPABILITIES IN THE SPECIALIST TRANSPORT SECTOR, EVERYTHING FROM MOVING HEAVY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT FOR MANUFACTURERS OF CRUSHERS, SCREENERS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT IN ITS NATIVE NORTHERN IRELAND AND SHIFTING RAILWAY ROLLING STOCK AND GENERAL OVERSIZE LOAD MOVEMENTS IN IRELAND, UK AND EUROPE, ALONG WITH EXPERTISE IN THE WIND ENERGY SECTOR. HEAVYTORQUE OUTLINES THE LATEST EQUIPMENT TO ENTER THE COMPANY’S SERVICE.
Part of its success is keeping investing for the future and sourcing its trucks, trailers and equipment from several manufacturers – specifying what it sees as the best equipment for its wide range of specialist transport operations. In the last 20 years it has been very active in the wind energy sector, investing in very high specification equipment to take up the challenge of transporting the relevant turbine components to all manner of remote locations. The ever-growing size of wind turbines require special techniques and equipment that is continually evolving to cope with bigger, taller, heavier tower sections, larger, heavier nacelles and blade sections that seem to get longer than ever.
FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS, GEORGE NAIRN WORKED FOR PICKFORDS WHEN IT WAS ONE OF THE BIG THREE HEAVY HAULAGE COMPANIES IN THE COUNTRY. HE NOW OWNS A HUGE COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF HIS OLD COMPANY’S VEHICLES, AS WELL AS OTHER HISTORIC IMAGES OF HEAVY HAULIERS IN ACTION. HEAVYTORQUE HAS BEEN TO MEET HIM.
When George Nairn started at the Tyneside depot of Pickfords Heavy Haulage in 1966, there were still steam engines hissing and clanking up the East Coast main railway line that ran just beside the yard in Birtley. He’d left college in 1966 where he’d been studying pathology, because that was what he’d always wanted to do, but plans to become a pathology lab technician fell through at the last minute. “I was left high and dry,” he smiles ruefully, “but I saw this vacancy to work as an office junior at Pickfords, and applied for the position to work in the traffic office. I got the job, and that’s how I started in the industry.”
One of his first duties in the traffic office was the routing of heavy loads. In these days of ESDAL (Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads) and emails, it’s hard to imagine what a laborious job that was. “It used to take most of the day,” Nairn recollects.