Deeside-based Expert Distribution (UK) has seen a sustained period of exceptional load volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic, with even its 1992 Volvo F12 putting in more shifts than usual.
“The F12 normally goes out a couple of times a week, to help with demand or when one of the Euro-6 trucks is being serviced, but we’ve definitely been working her harder since the crisis began,” said MD David Osborne.
“I’ve always believed in diversification, and we’ve just been lucky that the sectors we’ve built our reputation in are the ones where volumes have either been sustained, or increased. We’re definitely among the more fortunate hauliers right now.”
Expert Distribution was set up five years ago and its regular work includes delivering food and other essentials to supermarkets. It also works for a soap manufacturer and a plastics container firm, where volumes have surged by nearly 40% to meet demand – thanks to its products being used for cleaning chemicals and hand sanitiser.
Osborne said: “We’ve been able to manage everything with our regular 18-strong Volvo fleet, plus a couple of spot hire trucks which we are used to bringing in to help with peaks.
“My drivers have been absolutely amazing. They’ve been working incredibly hard, and we’ve only lost one guy temporarily to self-isolation, because his wife was displaying symptoms. We’ve been giving them masks, gloves, wipes and sanitiser and trying to follow a one driver per truck rule, so far as possible.
“We’re all on the same team, and we’re all just glad to be working. The other morning when my driver phoned in sick at 2am, I just jumped in the car and went to collect the truck. The load was delivered on time, and then I was back to the office.”
Commenting on the F12, Osborne added: "It never misses a beat, despite having 1.2 million kilometres on the clock!
“She’s only driven by me, my dad or one other driver – most people these days don’t fancy the idea of a three-over-three manual gearbox. But she’s absolutely phenomenal and we don’t shy away from putting her on the longer distance runs down to Gloucester and back in a shift.”
Expert Distribution has even upgraded the F12 with a digital tachograph, to ensure she fits with the rest of its Volvo FH fleet.
“We have spent a small fortune on various bits and bobs, but compliance is key and we don’t want any anomalies in the fleet,” he said. “From day one we said if we’re going to buy the truck, she needed to be able to operate like the rest of them. And she hasn’t let us down, ever.”
Expert Distribution has recently purchased a new yard in Deeside and the firm has plans to grow its fleet to 50 vehicles over the coming years.
“We are always expanding and striving to be better. The new site is currently in the process of being renovated and is set to become our base for life," said Osborne.