EST founder Edwin Shirley dies

Edwin Shirley, the man behind legendary entertainment logistics firm EST, has died.

The company, which started in 1974 with just a second-hand bread van, soon expanded to become one of the leading players in the rock and roll trucking industry.

Under the slogan ‘You Rock We Roll’ it provided logistics for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and Paul McCartney.

In 2011 it merged with Transam Trucking and continued to trade in tandem with Transam’s existing premises in Suffolk, with a satellite depot and office maintained in Woolwich, south London.

Del Roll, at EST, confirmed Edwin passed away on Tuesday morning (16th April).

Bye-bye BOGOF, let's get back to basics

Selling something was once a simple process. As Proposition Joe from the HBO series The Wire said: “Buy for a dollar, sell it for two.”

Such simple economics no longer work in a road transport sector riven by cutthroat competition and willingness to place personal gain over the collective good. 

Dealers continually rip up the ‘recommended retail price’ to achieve two ends; get the buyer to use its workshop and remove the buyer from circulation.

The recommended retail price is more of a guide and as dealers seek buyers in an ever dwindling market more switch to the bigger picture by putting together a life-time package. This includes making sure the truck goes through the dealer’s workshop guaranteeing maintenance, repair and servicing, as well as a captive parts source.

New truck sales teams up and down the country sacrifice margins and sell a truck at a loss, often at the behest of the MD or dealer principal, to allow the collective package to produce a margin.

More interesting is the theory that you remove the buyer from circulation, and for around three to five years, stopping them from looking somewhere else for a truck. Easy to do with smaller operators, not so easy with bigger fleets where economy of scale is a factor.

Still, the theory is there and, providing you can wash your face with the deal at the very least, dealerships seem willing to do it.

Selling products at a loss is a dangerous road to go down, and using the workshop to supplement the deal is the thin end of the wedge. As one, truck sales teams need to stand their ground and revert to the recommended retail price, it’s there for a reason. Otherwise the sector repeats the mistakes made by hauliers looking to sell their services. And we know where that leads.