Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
Abbey Lou, Daisy Mae, Jenni Rebekka, Lucy Poppy, Zoe Victoria – all girls’ names, but what else do they have in common? They’re just five of the 2,250 Eddie Stobart trucks on the road today. That is 37,000 massive tyres all pounding the roads at the same time. They make a delivery every five minutes. If you drive down the motorway you should overtake a dozen every hour. Eddie Stobart carries sixteen million tonnes of goods on twenty-six million pallets every year and the firm does half a billion pounds worth of business.
And yet, if you call on William Stobart, one of the men in charge, any Saturday morning, you’ll find him, hosing down a truck in his yard. He’s as hands-on, just as much as his father and his elder brother were before him.
Eddie Stobart, the man who started it all, has always been clear about the company’s philosophy: “We never turn any customer away and we always do it at the right price. We are always smart, tidy – the best at everything. We have the smartest drivers and the smartest trucks and we do our job well, which is why people notice us and why we are a success.”
“The tiny village of Hesket Newmarket does not look like the epicentre of a revolution.” Before the War, the young Eddie showed his entrepreneurial streak. He shot rabbits and sold them in Carlisle market. He sold a horse, kept chickens and sold the eggs. In the 1950s, he was married to Nora and living in “a rather Spartan farmhouse in Wigton, a neighbouring village of similarly modest repute to Hesket Newmarket.”
In 1960 he bought his first lorry, a four-wheeler Guy Invincible truck and he used it to deliver slag to local farms.
Ten years later, after the firm acquired its first articulated lorry, a Scania 110 Super, young William and Edward would wait for their father to buy a new vehicle and be very critical of the detail of the paintwork. They wanted the firm’s livery to be identical on every wagon.
Within a year of Edward getting his HGV licence at 21, the firm had eight trucks and twelve people working for him. William remembers that “Edward’s whole dream was having vehicles like that – they had the best tackle, the best wagons, the smartest paint jobs, and his whole ambition was to have exactly that.”
That passion for being the best built the firm’s reputation. “Customers contacted him, knowing that their goods would be delivered on time, in perfect condition and for the right price.”
In 1980 the expanding firm built “a colossal warehouse facility at a new site on the Kingstown industrial estate”. That was when the baton was finally passed on from father to son. “Edward turned to his father and said, ‘Thanks, Dad, I can manage now.’”
And manage he did. Within twenty years Eddie Stobart would have a thousand trucks and a reputation second to none. It was the one haulage business that everyone recognised and they recognised it for all the right reasons. It was an enviable position to be in and a remarkable achievement for a small Cumbrian family firm.
Since then, under the management of William Stobart and Andrew Tinkler the firm has become the giant international logistics business that plays a key role in the British economy.
This is a book for every Eddie Stobart fan. Martin Roach has achieved their dream and sat at the wheel of an Eddie Stobart wagon.
There are lots of wonderful pictures of trucks going about their business, all, of course, immaculate in their green, white and red livery.