TOP 20 POWER PLAYERS 2010
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
It’s the final countdown
In the second part of CM’s Power Players, we continue the countdown to road transport’s most influential person
On our Power Players list you will ind operators, clients, industry stakeholders and a few off-the-wall choices – some you may know, some you may not. Some make the list because they have power, while others do so because the organisations they lead have power. A handful are there because they are representative of a particular section of the industry.
What they all have in common is a direct inluence (for good or for ill) on the industry.
In the previous issue (CM 23 December), we revealed those in 20th to 11th places; let’s recap:
20. Mark Hinchliffe, Upper Tribunal judge 18. Graham Dalton, chief executive, Highways Agency 19. Boris Johnson, London Mayor 17 Kevin Buchanan, MD, Palletline 16. John Williams, MD, Maritime Transport 15. Iain Speak, chief executive, Bibby Distribution 14. Jonathan Smith, chief executive, Yodel 13. Malcolm Wilson, MD, Norbert Dentressangle 12. Eric Born, chief executive, Wincanton 11. Graham Inglis, chief executive, UK, Ireland, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa, DHL Supply Chain If you went to www.roadtransport.com/powerplayers, during the festive period you’ll know who’s in 10th to second place, so turn straight to p35 to ind out who’s in irst place. If you didn’t, then read on.
10. GEOFF DUNNING
TITLE Chief executive ORGANISATION Road Haulage Association XXXXXX In a year in which it was crucial for the industry’s two key associations to sing from the same song sheet, it is pleasing to note that when it mattered most, they did so.
The run-up to the election was the crucial moment: would the RHA and FTA agree on a few key issues? The answer was “yes”, and it would be a fool who thinks the new government’s apparently more transportfriendly stance is not, in part, due to the similar messages the then shadow transport minister Theresa Villiers and her team received from the associations.
Another key topic on which the two associations were united was eco-driving training becoming a mandatory part of the Driver CPC: they agreed that it should not be mandatory.
The result? The transport minister heeded their responses to the consultation and abandoned the proposal.
9. THEO DE PENCIER
TITLE Chief executive ORGANISATION Freight Transport Association That’s not to say the RHA and FTA agreed on everything: the old (and correct) differences of opinion remain and were regularly evidenced, but that’s only to be expected given the distinctly different memberships.
For example, both agree with the introduction of O-licensing to Northern Ireland, but they don’t see eye to eye on its progress.
The RHA didn’t fall for the FTA’s Love Logistics campaign, and the RHA might have gone further than the FTA wished on the opposition and proposed alternatives to VOSA’s modernisation.
We place Theo de Pencier marginally ahead of Geoff Dunning.
Both have had a challenging year, not only on the policy front, but also running an association during a recession. However, the FTA was more noticeable (but that’s not to say more effective) during party conference season, and, by the very nature of its members, constitutes a more powerful entity.
6. PHILIP BROWN
TITLE Senior Trafワc Commissioner ORGANISATION Department for Transport Last year we were cheeky and placed Beverley Bell, the North-Western Traffic Commissioner, ahead of her nominal boss, Philip Brown, the Senior TC. This year we’ve left TC Bell out, but kept STC Brown in, effectively representing all TCs.
The TCs have to walk a fine line between taking a tough stance on rogue operators and giving direction to businesses that have made honest mistakes. For the most part in 2010, TCs were as tough on phoenixes as the law allows, and as critical as possible of operators that deliberately flouted regulations.
However, there were a few odd decisions where expected revocations were not made, and others that were unexpectedly successfully appealed.
We wait to see if the STC makes use of the government’s backing for roving TCs, operating on specialist topics.
As we said last year: if you’re a compliant operator, you need not fear the TCs.
5. ALASTAIR PEOPLES
TITLE Chief executive ORGANISATION VOSA As VOSA chief executive, Alastair Peoples is effectively road transport’s top cop. The past 12 months have been as challenging, if not more so, than the previous year.
Peoples has had to find the common ground between the industry’s expectations of VOSA and meeting the targets set by two administrations (outgoing Labour and incoming coalition).
The much-delayed Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) programme came to fruition in February with the first private sector ATFs announced; subsequent take-up by service agents and operators has hardly been astonishing, and unions representing VOSA test centre staff remain bitterly opposed to it.
However, the threat of job cuts, especially in enforcement roles, is worrying. Peoples might need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to ensure those cuts do not affect VOSA’s ability to do the job the industry needs it to do.
8. MIKE PENNING
TITLE Transport Minister ORGANISATION Department for Transport So far, the MP for Hemel Hempstead appears to be the most road transport-friendly Transport Minister in donkey’s years. Why have we listed Penning and not Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond? Precisely because of Penning’s engagement with, and obvious passion for, his brief.
When it comes to proposals to limit trailer heights to 4m, Penning is on the industry’s side and knows the government must fight this nonsense in Brussels.
Dartford tolls? Toll booths to be removed and replaced by number plate-recognition software (paid for, of course, by increased tolls).
Lorry road-user charge? He wants it, and he wants it to be cost-neutral to you, but it will take several years to be introduced.
Penning is a refreshingly down-to-earth politician: we just hope he stays in post for more than the usual eight months.
7. JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO
TITLE President ORGANISATION European Commission Last year José Manuel Barroso was eighth on the Power Players list; this year he has jumped up one. Why? Well, for several reasons, the main one being the EC’s barking-mad proposal to limit trailer heights to 4m.
Various parties have spoken to CM and Motor Transport, not
least John Lewis and Kimberly-Clark, to highlight the almost catastrophic impact such a move would have on their opera tions. At least the UK government is ready to fight this proposal.
Other European madness that Barroso presides over includes: the VAT refund debacle/fiasco (delete as appropriate), whereby operators are waiting far too long for VAT refunds (with some businesses collapsing as a result); the lack of direction to help solve the truck-parking crisis throughout Europe; and the ongoing debate about owner-drivers falling under the Working Time Directive.
4. COWBOY OPERATORS 14. JONATHAN SMITH
TITLE August’s Trucking Britain Out Of Recession survey revealed Chief execut that 79% of the several hundred respondents would impose
ORGANSATION Yo harsher penalties on rogue operators if they had absolute Great livery; no sure about the name and let’s se how the power for a day. For the record, “only” 61% said they would abndon the fuel duty escalator. strategy plays out: that’s our take Rogue or cowboy operators have been around since ecutive Jonathan Smith.God ws boy. They are a pest at the best of times, but A year ago, Smith was MD of DHL Domestc Expess wouldn’t have made this list, but then £325m-turnover pe during a long recession they are arguably the industry’s arch enmy – specifically the ar the enemy within. Whether speciaist Home Delvery Network took over the DHL do omstic or foreign, delivery arm duringyear’s festive period, running overloaded with exhausted drivers in doubling the busine ovenight, with Smith poorly maintained trucks and undercuting genuine stepping up to the top job rates, cowboy opertors And now Yodel has se are a cancer, strikig at its sights on a £1bnhe heat of the industry. turnover within a few In the pas two years, ars But let’s not getVOSA and the Traffic carried away: the two Commiioners have businesses need to b taken noticeably stronger fully integrated – and the iitia failure of the Target/ lines against the cowboys – and this is a stance that City Lnk paring issomethig Smith and his must continue with vigour.
3. ANDREW TINKLER
TITLE Chief executive ORGANISATION Stobart Group What a year for the housewives’ favourite haulage business Stobart Group, led by chief executive Andrew Tinkler. Let’s look at the evidence.
Stobart’s ever-burgeoning relationship with Tesco is unique in its complexity – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell where Stobart ends and Tesco starts.
Tesco enabled Stobart to deliver the first of two bloody noses to Wincanton in 2010 by switching its Manchester DC transport contract from Wincanton to Stobart.
Stobart followed this by taking the Britvic transport deal from Wincanton. Later in the year, Stobart was named a Superbrand, alongside FedEx and DHL, by The Centre for Brand Analysis.
Next came the group’s 40th anniversary and that TV show. Love it or loathe it, it worked for Five, so another series is in the offing.
Finally, we’d put good money on Stobart being the first firm to carry out trials of longer trailers in the UK: now that’s power.
2. YOUR DRIVERS
Transport operators have little influence on their own businesses: you’re at the whim of mad and bad clients and mad and bad rivals; your ability to deliver goods on time is hamstrung by poorly maintained infrastructure; the EC can rewrite laws that govern and bind UK transport overnight; and government departments and their executive agencies can place further red tape in your path at seemingly just a moment’s notice.
The only real influence operators have over their business is to set the spec of their vehicles to be as efficient as possible and to ensure they have the best drivers.
Of course, the best-trained, properly motivated and engaged drivers will cost you more initially, but they will drive more efficiently (consuming less of your single highest cost – fuel), cause less damage to your vehicles (saving downtime), help you maintain your compliance record and be the face of your business to both your clients and Joe Public alike.
They are a win-win asset.
Of course, nobody’s perfect: there are drivers with ridiculously outdated views who think that because the boss is paying for the fuel, it’s OK to drive with a heavy right foot; that it’s OK to ignore Drivers’ Hours rules and breach tacho regulations; and that it’s OK to sully the industry’s image with the general road-going public through bad behaviour and poor manners. These drivers are as unwanted by the industry as cowboy operators and cowboy clients.
Drivers can affect many aspects of any transport operation – hire and reward haulier, contract logistics or own-account operator – and therefore they have great power, but this year they are not number one.
1. DAVID POTTS
TITLE Retail and logistics director ORGANISATION Tesco Customers hold the key to the road transport industry’s health, of that there can be no doubt, and at this time more so than any other. King among customers are the UK’s biggest retailers, and king among them remains Tesco.
The man with ultimate authority for Tesco’s supply chain management is David Potts, retail and logistics director. While running a huge fleet very well, Tesco engages an equally huge number of subcontractors, with the biggest of those being the Stobart Group – increasingly Tesco’s preferred partner it would appear.
Tesco continues to make great strides in all areas of transport, and through the likes of the Institute of Grocery Distribution, Tesco and its peers and rivals can learn from each other and make their operations ever more efficient – which has to be good for the overall health of UK plc.
However, there are bad customers who have a negative impact on operators. It seems that half the collapses we reported last year were largely the result of clients’ bad debts; and all operator collapses last year highlighted clients taking their business to rival operators offering lower (suicidal?) rates.
Bad clients see transport as a commodity, not an essential service (and a highly skilled one at that).
A new development that is just as worrying is Aggregate Industries’ decision to postpone December payments to its subcontractors until this month. It can be only a small crumb of comfort for the affected subbies that this decision has been met with widespread derision: it is certainly a move we do not wish to see replicated by transport customers anywhere else.
But if a client like Tesco can draw Joe Public through its doors in greater numbers, inevitably operators’ volumes increase: that’s power.