60-second interview: Paul Avery, MD Schmitz Cargobull

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Tuscany. Beautiful scenery, beautiful people, beautiful food and beautiful wine.

What cars do you drive?
Audi A5 and Porsche Boxster

Hobbies?
Cooking, travel and playing a tenor saxophone (badly)

How did you get into the industry and why?
After leaving school my best exam results were in the sciences, so I started as a draughtsman for a Birmingham based vehicle bodybuilder called Wilsdon and Co. I moved to Durham in 1989 and joined York Thermostar as a design engineer, electing to stay with Schmitz after they bought Thermostar in 1991. Since then I’ve worked my way up from head of engineering and R&D, to general manager and now MD.

How would you encourage more young people into the industry?
I would encourage UK manufacturers to have a robust apprenticeship program. Schmitz Cargobull recruits around 60 apprentices per year throughout the group. These programmes ensure the future growth, efficiency and quality of any manufacturer.  

What is the outlook for your sector of the market over the next 12 months?
The signs are still positive. Enquiry levels are high and have been for well over a year. Schmitz Cargobull UK has expanded its portfolio and now offers tippers, rigid fridge bodies and fixed roof curtainsiders in addition to the reefer trailers, Euroliners and dry freight products we are best known for. This expansion has allowed us to grow even further as a business in the UK. 

RHA to deliver emergency driver shortage petition to Downing Street

The RHA and a delegation of hauliers will deliver an emergency petition to 10 Downing Street this afternoon, calling on the government to take immediate action to tackle the driver shortage.

Faced with a national driver shortage of more than 45,000 drivers – and conscious that 35,000 more are estimated to be due to retire within the next two years – the RHA believes the situation is deteriorating fast.

Its chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The RHA represents UK hauliers who, between them, operate over 100,000 heavy goods vehicles. Our members, quite literally, move the UK economy.

“We are now facing an unprecedented and critical shortage of qualified truck drivers. Current retirement levels and low levels of new entrants to the industry are creating a perfect storm.

“The cost of training to be a truck driver is very high – typically some £3,000. This is a serious barrier for individuals wishing to train up.

“Margins in the small- and medium-sized haulage companies that make up the bulk of our industry are very tight and this limits their capacity to fund the required training.

“To keep the economic recovery on track, the government needs to act, and act fast. We are urging the prime minister and chancellor to invest £150m in driver training in the July [emergency] budget.”

The move comes as a survey by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport revealed that 74% of its members worked in organisations experiencing a shortage of HGV drivers. The survey also found that 89% believe the government is not doing enough to deal with the problem.

Other findings from the survey are: 61% use agency workers throughout the year; 51% have failed to recruit drivers over the past 12 months; 22% do not finance Driver CPC for their drivers; 80% claimed it was business’s responsibility to find solutions to the issue.