• SERVICE THE KEYNOTE TO
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
:ESSFUL HAULAGE EXPANSION
IF it be necessary to demonstrate that the best type of haulage business is one which is small enough to be directed and controlled by one man, then Guest Transport, Ltd., 2, 01+:1 Church Yard, Liverpool, 3, would serve as an example. The fact that, except for a few whose direct practical knowledge of the industry is limited, such proof is not needed, in no way detracts from the usefulness of this article, which shows how such a business should be run with a high degree of efficiency and, apart from its work as a hired undertaking under, the Government Haulage Scheme, at , a fair profit.
It is always of interest, in surveying a business such as this, to try to discover the reason why it has done so well. I have done this many times before and, ultimately, it has been found to be the same in every case ; it is service, Indeed, it is true to state that road transport is better described as a service rather than as a• business, and the operator who, however subconsciously, regards it in that light, makes a success of it.
If, however, the secret of success be the same in every case, the manner of its achievement differs almost every time. I particularly like• this story of the progress of Guest Transport, Ltd„ because it is .so appropriate at the present time, when the controversy as to the relative merits and demerits of big and small businesses is rife.
Mr. T. Nelson, the managing director, started in haulage by doing what is often stated to be impossible— be made a success of long-distance haulage with only two vehicles. Indeed, it was his success which impelled others to persuade' him to.join forces withGuest Transport, Ltd., and give that company his aid. .
He started in 1925 with a PierceArrow lorry. To use his own words; " I did not know anything about the job and I paid dearly for my experience." For some time he appears to have operated as a " tramp," but eventually settled down,
• A24 to running a regular service between Liverpool and London. After three years, a Chevrolet six-wheeler was purchased, and Mr. Nelson thinks that this was the first pneumatic-tyred vehicle to operate regularly on this route. Another two years and these two machines were 'sold and replaced by a Rea T6 Speed Wagon and A.E.C. Monarch.
At the end of a further two years Mr. Nelson applied his engineering knowledge to the job of converting these two vehicles into six-wheelers, in which guise they ran until 1935. For part of the time an Eagle trailer was used with the Reo.
When The First • Oiler Was Bought In 1935 he bought his rs1 oiler, an Albion, of which make he speaks most highly. He would have standardised Albions had circumstances allowed, but war .conditions and the way in which his business has expanded—by the purchase of fleets of vehicles of other makes—have prevented the fulfilment • of this desire, hut it will come.
The reason for the original choice of this first Albion is typical of the man. 'Mr. Nelson had visited the 1933. Commercial Vehicle Show, and, while there, inspected an Albion. In 1935, he saw the corresponding model and, so far as
he could see and recollect, no modification in essential details had been introduced. That decided him. Here, he thought, is a chassis which must have been a good job in the first place, as there has been no need, in two years, to make a n y important alteration.
Mr. T. Nelson, Iran, his foreman. Mr. g
Whatever. may be thought of the soundness of this reasoning, the result fully justifies it.. He has been perfectly satisfied with his Albions; he bought his sedond vehicle of this make in the' next year, and, when he could, has invariably purchased machines from this Scottish concern.
Mr. Nelson converted his first Albion to a six-wheeler and ran it until just prior to the war, when it was sold and replaced by another Albion, this time a mddel CX six-wh6eler. Up to this period he had operated on. his own account, never having more thssn two vehicles and yet, during a period when things were at their worst in the roadhaulage business, he was making a net profit which ran into four figures.
Shortly before the war, in company with a 'Mr. Heys, he purchased the business of Guest Transport, Ltd., a
concern owning o n e 'vehicle and licences for a further two Two Foden six-wheelers were eventually added. Expansion, thereafter, w a s • rapid, three other .concerns, Messrs. Gebbie and
• Brennan, Shepherd Hauliers, Ltd., and Messrs. F. E. Vaughan—
the company, and ie Albion vehicle is
ill concerns-'— were taken over and eventually, in 1943, were consolidated into Guest Transport, Ltd., with Mr. Nelson as managing director. The fleet now consists, of 13 vehicles and three 8-ton trailers. It is, perforce, a miscellaneous one, comprising the following machines:— Three Albions, two of which are 15-ton eight-wheelers and the third a 13-ton six-wheeler; an E.R.F. 15-ton bightwheeler; six A.E.C.s, three of which are 15-ton eight-wheelers, ohe a 12-tonner, another a 10-ton six-wheeler with twinsteering and 8-ton trailer, and the sixth a 7-ton four-wheeler with 8-ton trailer; a Scammell 15-ton eightwheeler and two articulated International 10-tonners. With the exception of the last named all are equipped with oil engines.
Special mention must be made of one of the Albion eight-wheelers. This
IFas adapted, early in 1942, to haul a trailer and thus Carry a total pay-load of 22 tons. Mr. Nelson insists, notwithstanding announcements to the contrary, that this was the first vehicle to be so adapted (the provisional regulation permitting the use of vehicle and trailer of a gross weight of 32 tons Came into force.in August, 1941).
500,000 Miles and Still Going Strong
Another machine deserving special mention is the Albion 13-ton sixwheeler. This vehicle, which is shown in one of the accompanying illustrations, hasbeen on the LiverpoolLondon trunk service for eight years. It has run nearly 500.000 miles and is still in good condition.
One war-time experience deserves to be related as having a bearing on the company's aptitude for traffic getting and carrying. Towards the end of 1940, the M.O.W.T, handed over a new E.R.F. six-wheeler to he operated on behalf of the Ministry. It was agreed in the beginning that this vehicle was to tarry Government traffic from Liverpool to London, but was free in respect of return loads.
For six months this vehicle ran three trips per week each way over that route, fully loaded in each direction.
It earned a considerable profit and, at the end of that period, was taken back by the Ministry. Government accountants came along, checked the books, and congratulated the company on the operation of the vehicle. They also took the money, said Mr. Wilson.
In pre-war days, the traffic consisted of chemicals, electric cables, machinery, foodstuffs, fresh fruit, goods for export, periodicals, and, of course, anything else that came along.
The company is now a hired undertaking under the M.O.W.T., but, before that, it still continued to serve pre-war customers who were mainly shippers acting for the various Ministries. A good deal of traffic was carried fork the Liverpool Hauliers
Traffic Pool.' At the London end, where another director is in charge, it was quite common for a da.y's traffic to reach 300 or even 400 :tons. In handling this quantity of cargo Mr. Nelson acknowledges the help of many haulage concerns, both large and small, which worked for him.
The conveyance of periodicals at first strikes one as being a matter of
small consequence. Actually, it is nothing of the kind. This work, besides being considerable in'extent, is peculiar in respect of the conditions under which it is carried out. So Soon as the periodicals are available they must be collected and then taken to catch the first boat for any particular destination. Moreover, in order that the goods may be the first off the boat at the destination port they must be loaded last at the port of departure. As a result the notice given is short amt the plaee to which the periodicals are to be carried is not known until the last minute, factors which necessitate special organization and efficient service if the boat is not to be missed.
One well-remembered . incident in connection with this traffic emphasizes the point about service which I made in the opening paragraphs of this article.
The company for which a certain consignment of periodicals was to be conveyed was Gordon and Gotch, Ltd.
(The name will be found at the bottom of the back cover of this journal.) A consignment originally intended for a boat sailing from Liverpool was, at the last moment, diverted to Glasgow. Only 24 hours were available for colleetion in London, transit to Glasgow and delivery on to the .boat. The operator's Loudon manager quoted a price at which the consignee demurred.
A railway quotation, for transit under the Green .Arrow Service; was lower, but the promise of delivery was two days. Atter, •due consideration, brief because time was short, the consignment was divided. The bulk, the really', urgent part, was carried by Guest Transport, Ltd., and the balance, to he taken for delivery in two days, by the much advertised Green Arrow Service of the railway. The lorry caught the boat at Glasgow within the 24 hours. The consignment that went by rail took a week on the journey, due, it is believed, to war conditions.
An important factor in successful haulage from a seaport is the location of the premises in which the vehicles are housed between journeys. Time is most important. As orders are received at a late hour and boats must be met or caught at short notice, the garage must be centrally disposed. In this respect Guest Transport, Ltd.. is particularly fortunate, as is. made clear by the following particulars.
The garage, at 28, Queen Street, is about 200 yds, from the docks, and almost midway in the length of Liver pool's five-mile water front. It is half a mile from the Custom House, 200 yds. from the Cotton Exchange,
half a mile from the Fruit Exchange. and the same distance from the E'ro-, visions Exchange and the Corn Exchange. It is 200 yds. from each of the main exit roads from Liverpool, and 150. yds. from the entrance to the Mersey Tunnel. It is quite near to the Liver Building, in which are many shipping offices; the Cunard offices are next door to the Liver Building, and Chapel Street, in which are many shipping offices, is only 150 yds. away2
Place of Vehicles is on the Road True, the premises are small,certainly not spacious enough to house 13 vehicles and three trailers. As to that, however, Mr. Nelson pertinently observes that there is no need to have accommodation for the whole of a fleet engaged on long-distance haulage. The majority of the vehicles is, or should be, on the road, not in the garage. Certainly Mr. Nelsoa, after 10 years' experience of the value of this site, does not propose to move.
I have not yet got at the kernel of the reason for the way in which this business has found success. I have indicated the shape and size of the shell—efficient and wholehearted service. The kernel is the mab. Born in Yorkshire and brought up in Lancashire, Mr. Nelson has the hardheadedness and flair for business organization which are characteristic of the men of both counties.
His upbringing has been severe. His fast experience of road haulage came to him at 15 years of age, when he was second " man on a steel-tyred steam wagon. In those days it took a day and a half to get from Liverpool to Manchester. In order to be able to climb the hills met on the route, an which roads paved with stone setts were encounter0, he used to sit on the top of the load with a sack of coke, lumps of which he would throw under the wheels so • that they could get a grip. More coke was used under the wheels than ever went into the firebox of the boiler. The water tank had to be refilled every 10 miles.
Then he Went into a garage and was engaged in repair work. He drove such vehicles' as a De .Dietrich, with low-tension ignition, a Delaunay Belleville and a Delage. He gained his first experience as a driver of heavy vehicles with a 4-ton Leyland, a big machine in those days. He went overseas in Wor.ld•War I and was wounded in November, 1918, being finally discharged from the Army in February, 1919. Then he joined a firm of general engineers and, in particular, became an expert welder, evidence of which can he found on most of his vehicles to-day. That phase lasted six years.
He is, therefore, an engineer as well as a haulier—a useful combination. .His predilection for the former occupation is demonstrated in his garage, which is remarkably well equipped for all kinds of repairs. He say S that he works with both his head and his hands, which is, perhaps, as good away of putting it as any. He does, however, insist that full credit be given th his garage foreman, Mr. E. A. Williams, for his share in the success
of the company, • S.T.R.