Like Father Like Son. If you were to ask senior management at ARN, ‘what’s the secret of your success?, they’d find it difficult to pin a medal on any individual or, come to that, any department. Wholesaling is like the ultimate team game and to keep the customer satisfied, all the players have to be on top form every time they come to work, writes PV Editor, Ian Reynolds-Young
Having said that, because they come face to face with customers, on their premises, on a daily basis, ARN’s heavy goods vehicle drivers deserve a special pat on the back. When they named their newsletter ‘The Extra Mile’, they might have had their drivers in mind; because apparently, every man jack of them has the attitude that nothing’s too much trouble.
What’s more, if they’re anything like Davy Curry, they all have a keen sense of humour, too. When I catch up with him, not surprisingly he’s behind the wheel. The first thing I realise is that when Lyndsey told me I’d need an interpreter, she wasn’t joking. Davy speaks undiluted Geordie, and a dodgy phone line isn’t helping.
‘Do you want me to lie me head off or tell you the truth?’ he asks, when I tell him I want the low-down on the driver’s life. Then – and not for the last time in our conversation – he laughs his head off.
‘Just tell me whatever it is that’ll get you the most brownie points’ I reply, and he likes that.
Like Father Like Son
‘’It’s a cracking company’ he says, ‘I won’t have to lie much!’ And so, the tone of our chat having been set, it’s down to business. Davy agrees that the relationships the drivers enjoy with the customers they visit are very positive. ‘We all try w’our hardest to get products to them bang on time and to accommodate any special requests they might have’, I think he says.
‘I reckon the lorries themselves make a very good first impression. We’ve got 4 new trucks on order now and when they arrive, the vast majority of w’our fleet will be ’64 plate and later, so they all look the business.’
Rather than have a specific geographical ‘patch’, an ARN driver can find him or herself driving anywhere, from the north of Scotland to Cornwall; from Co. Antrim to Co. Clare. There is a pattern that always applies, though: ‘I’m away from home 4 nights every week’, Davy says. ‘I come in on a Sunday and I get home of a Thursday night. Usually, I’ll return to the depot a couple of times but it could be that in a week I get two long trips or four short ones. It can be that you see the same customer twice in a fortnight and then it’s six months before you pass that way again.’
Senior Transport Manager James Elliott and his team of Chris Heslop and Nathan Capeling are the people handing the jobs out. They regularly consult the drivers to benefit from their up-to-the-minute knowledge regarding temporary issues, such as road works and diversions, or impending personal matters, that might complicate the job. ‘It’s a consensus between the lads in the office and the drivers’, Davy confirms. ‘They are very accommodating.’
Thanks to his attitude and his good humour, you don’t have to be a mind reader to appreciate that Davy loves his job. ‘Why aye’, he says, ‘it’s like a hobby to me. I’ve been lorry daft since I was a bairn. When I was little, I’d go out with my dad, he was an HGV driver and since then I’ve never wanted to be anything else.’ They say ‘like father, like son’ and in Davy’s case, it looks as though history is repeating itself through Davy’s lad Jack, who’s 10 years old. Davy’s life revolves around his son and although in this day and age taking him to work is not an option, Jack loves nothing better than going to the truck shows with his dad; and his dad loves nothing better than having Jack with him. Talk about ‘a generation game’!
‘Aye, maybes he’ll follow in my footsteps’, Davy said. ‘I’m 43 now, (though you wouldn’t guess to look at me) and I’ve had my license for 22 years. I started in the garage when I left school at fifteen and I qualified as a diesel technician. I fixed lorries for twelve years and I’ve been driving them ever since. It’s not just a job for me, I love driving and I try to get to as many truck shows as I possible can. I’ve won a lot of trophies over the past few years so I’ve got to know and be known by a lot of drivers, all over the country.’
As you’d imagine, given that they are required to sleep in their cabs, drivers are allocated a lorry and by and large, they stick with it for the duration. ‘I’ve got a Mercedes Benz Actros and I love it’, Davy says, ‘it’s beautiful; stunning. The company gives us pretty much a blank canvas when it comes to fitting them out. Mine has a fridge, a microwave, a TV… All the home comforts, only in a cab. It’s good thinking really: because of it the drivers take good care of their cabs.’
At ARN, vacancies for drivers are few and far between and they usually come up when someone retires. ‘Working for ARN is seen as one of the best driving jobs in the north-east’, Davy says. ‘I’ve been here eight-and-a-half years, but most of the lads have been around for over ten years. We all get on. Yes, we have our differences now and again, like anywhere, but ARN is a good place to work, we are well looked after.’
And that was that; Davy was approaching a customer’s premises. It was a pleasure and an education to talk to him – I even understood most of what he said…
Like Father, Like Son
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