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Woman Haulier's Worthy War Effort

19th December 1941
Page 34
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Page 34, 19th December 1941 — Woman Haulier's Worthy War Effort
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By As Managing Director of a Leeds Haulage Concern, a Special Mrs. Borrowdale Has Some Sound Views on Road Correspondent Haulage Based on More Than 20 Years' Experience pRAY silence, gentlemen, for a woman operator of road haulage— Mrs. Hilda Borrowdale, managing director of H. Borrowdale and Co., Ltd., Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds. Her views concerning road haulage deserve a hearing, and the story of her experience, which forms the background of those views, is worthy of record.

Mrs. Borrowdale became actively associated with road haulage more than 20 years ago, when her husband, the late Mr. Edward Borrowdale, began business as an operator in Leeds. She helped to keep the books and acted generally as her husband's " righthand man." One of their vehicles in those earlier days was the Yorkshire steam wagon illustrated in an accompanying picture.

On Mr. Borrowdale's death in 1939, the experience gained during her " apprenticeship," coupled with her native ability, enabled her to take complete control of the business and to develop it successfully. In under three years she has nearly doubled the number of its vehicles—from five to nine.

Holds H.G.V. Licence Mrs. Borrowdale acts as her own costs accountant for the purpose of rates calculation. In emergency, she can drive a lorry, having held an H.G.V. driving licence for the past two years. On numerous occasions she has accompanied her lorries on journeys in order to obtain first-hand knowledge of the conditions under which some new job has to be done.

A noteworthy feature of the garage organization is a fleet log book, in which is kept a daily record concerning every vehicle—where it goes, what servicing it gets, repairs, replacements, and so forth. This comprehensive but handy record, whereby any point concerning a vehicle can be easily checked up, has proved useful on innumerable occasions.

To the question " Do you find your

self handicapped in the haulage business by the fact that you are a woman? " Mrs. Borrowdale replied: " There is a handicap in one respect. As a woman I cannot, for instance, breeze into a client's office, slap him on the back, and say ' Come and have lunch with me, old chap.' "

Her business motto is " Satisfaction by service." She says that " It's service that counts every time and all the time, and that is where we have an advantage over the railways if we run our businesses efficiently and conscientiously."

When she finds it necessary to increase haulage rates, because of increases in costs, Mrs. Borrowdale makes a point of carefully explaining the whys and the wherefores to the companies for which she works, and she has never yet met with a refusal to pay the increase proposed.

" I am rather perturbed, however," she said, " at the position arising from the ever-upward trend of costs, which must mean repeated increases in rates, if we are to work on a reasonable economic basis. I would like to repeat a suggestion which I made at an operators' meeting a few months ago, for furnishing the road-haulage user with a clear indication of the relationship between increases in costs aud increases in rates.

" This would be done by showing on the invoices which we send to clients the percentage added to our rates -to meet increases in costs. We could arrive at the percentage addition in consultation with the local Chambers of Commerce, to any member of which the details of how the percentage is arrived at would be available.

" This procedure might bring home to traders generally the effect on their own costs of increases in transport costs, so that we should gain allies to help check the present tendency towards a vicious circle of rising wages and rates, with consequent increases in the costs of the industries which road haulage serves."

Served in Deputations A staunch advocate of mutual help among road-transport operators through the medium of operators' associations, Mrs. Borrowdale is actively associated with the Federation of Yorkshire Road Transport Employers, and she serves on the corn-. mittee of Leeds Municipal Vehicle Operators, the organization of hauliers doing municipal haulage m Leeds. An excellent speaker, she lias from time to time participated in deputations appointed to make representations on haulage matters.

" Experience has proved," she remarked, " thit one of the industry's weaknesses has been lack of co-operation and confidence between operators. Happily, it appears that this weakness is gradually being overcome. Another welcome tendency is the co-operation which war-time demands on road transport has fostered between hauliers and the Regional Transport Commissioners.

Mrs. Borrowdale spoke of the useful ness of the present co-operation between operators and Regional Transport Commissioners on war-time haulage rates questions, but expressed the opinion that there should he stronger machinery for dealing with the rates problem.

" We should have not only schedules of reasonable rates, built up on the costs of operation and relative services, plus a fair profit," she said, " but these rates should be made enforceable by law. This should be done now, and there should be provision for authorized increases as and when they are warranted by increases in operators' costs. Both operators and users would then know where they stand, so far-as rates are concerned."

Views on Return-load Rates One anomaly in the present rates position, Mrs. Borrowdale remarked, is the carrying of return loads at a lower rate than outward loads. " Does the mileage'shrink on the return journey?'' she asked ironically.

Expressing approval of the Standing Joint Committee's scheme for one national organization for A and B licence-holders, provided the organization does not engage in. trade, Mrs. Borrowdale stressed the desirability of setting up provincial committees, in addition to a central committee. Such committees, she suggested, should have power to negotiate and effect settlements on urgent matters in their areas, without reference to the central committee.

Complaining that there had been too much secrecy concerning the Standing Joint Committee's proceedings in connection with the scheme, Mrs. Borrowdale said this was typical of the "hush-hush " policy which all toooften had kept from the general body of operators vital information.

She heartily supports the suggested formation of a drivers' association, which she thinks would helo operators by encouraging a good sfandard of driving and tending to eliminate the inefficient. She is proud of the fact that her own company's driving staff includes two drivers who have been with the business since 1919, the year of its foundation. One is Mr. Matthew Slater, who is seen in the accompanying picture of the Yorkshire steam wagon which Mr. Borrowdale operated in the early days. . The other is Mr. Harold Palmer, who joined Borrowdale's so soon as he left school.

As to women drivers, Mrs. Borrowdale considers they can play a useful part in war-time haulage, and she points out that in Yorkshire there are women who are driving 5-ton lorries. Her own company has not so far em

ployed women drivers, much of the traffic—connected with heavy engineering—being considered unsuitable for them.

Mrs. Borrowdale's enthusiasm for her work as a haulier is finding full scope nowadays when road transport is playing such a big part in the war effort. " In these great days of history," she said, "what a grand feeling it is to know that you are doing a worthwhile job. The operation of road haulage is one of the most trying of occupations, but its variety and its constant challenge to one's energies and resource give it an interest all its own. Had I a son, this is the job I would choose for him."

Mrs. Borrowdale was not disposed to venture any prophecies as to the future of road haulage, but her outlook seems to be optimistic.

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