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'Distinctiveness is a rarity among our haulage fleets'

7th March 1996, Page 39
7th March 1996
Page 39
Page 39, 7th March 1996 — 'Distinctiveness is a rarity among our haulage fleets'
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A distinctive livery can reap substantial business rewards, says Frank Whalley, former PR manager at Seddon Atkinson.

4 ea, and I did see a great and

glorious vision. I saw a truck in a coat of many colours and it pleased me and my kin greatly. The man that owneth it obviously had PRIDE. Can a well-turned out, attractive truck produce a financial return? I believe so.

Some years ago I met a successful haulier in the Middle East whose business had grown more rapidly than his competitors'. Asking him why, I heard a reason almost laughable in its simplicity. The large town was served by a fair number of hauliers, all using very similar trucks with the truck owner's name and the town name on the cable door. One weekend he decided to change the colour of his cab doors on his three trucks and apply a simple triangular logo along with the usual identification.

Now, his three trucks probably went through the town no more often than his cornpetitors, but because they were distinctive they were noticed and remembered. His business prospered: the three became six, then 10, and so on. Who would have thought a logo could be a lucky charm? Nowadays, distinctiveness is a rarity among our haulage fleets. I suppose it is all due to the cheese-paring that appears to be necessary for financial survival. The norm would appear to be a truck in "factory white" with a self-adhesive decal on the cab door. Yes, I know that peeling the decal off makes it easier and simpler to sell on than the expense of an obliterating respray, but what has your name, location and phone number on a cab door done for your business? It's all a bit basic and if it's noticed at all it probably tells people that your operation is basic too. There is nothing wrong in a basic operation, providing it is efficient. But I am sure I am not alone in appreciating someone who runs trucks with more "personality," than the majority.

After all, a haulier can show both care and pride through the appearance of his vehicles more easily than in any other way,. If he doesn't look after his vehicles how will he look after the goods he carries?

Takeovers have no doubt decimated more well-liveried fleets than operating economics have. Am I unduly cynical in supposing the takeovers have to submerge a strong identity to show who is boss? Another loss which I know gave many people enjoyment is the disappearance of the name of the truck's base from the rear of the vehicle. The ubiquitous "Long Vehicle" marker is nowhere near as interesting reading as Invergordon, Lowestoft or Falmouth. You could appreciate how far the driver had driven or had yet to drive. Owners no doubt had the names painted on to show how far their vehicles travelled and as pride in their home town. I imagine this also gave benefits in their local area, unlike the mega-fleets of today which may go everywhere but come from nowhere. There is, praise be, a core of enthusiastic hauliers whose vehicles give enjoyment when seen in the daily grind of travelling.

Giving the lie to the parsimonious Scots comment are those of Gibb's of Fraserburgh, Harry Lawson of Broughty Ferry and WH Malcolm of Paisley. Further south are WJ Riding of Preston {soon to be reduced to TDG livery?) Moochers at Southampton and NJ Grose in Cornwall.


Locations: Southampton, Preston

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