A Working Relationship Resulting in Commercial, Trailer Manufacturing, and Health and Safety Benefits
Dawsongroup truck and trailer leads the way in trailer leasing and has a long and close working relationship with Lawrence David (LD) that includes 10 years of exclusivity on its pillarless curtainsider.
Dawsongroup truck and trailer’s MD John Fletcher and former LD Commercial Director Chris Curzon, who has just retired after 23 years with the Peterborough-based dry freight trailer builder and repairer, met up to talk about how our two companies work together and the commercial benefits.
Dawsongroup’s trailer fleet stands at around 8,000, 60% of which are on long-term contracts with customers and the balance available for rent. The decision to buy exclusively LD dry freight trailers in 2013 coincided with a refocus on the trailer business.
“Trailers had largely been very much secondary until that point, but we made a decision to start promoting trailers as a central part of our overall offer,” said John. “We were a heavily tractor-based business, and no one looked at trailers as the workhorses that they are. They were allowed to age and there wasn’t much focus on the design or the components that went into them.”
As a result, the trailer fleet had begun to show its age, with no definitive replacement cycle. The working relationship between truck and trailer and LD allowed the team to come up with a plan to speed up the replacement of older trailers and renew a substantial part of our trailer fleet.
“Chris came up with a fleet cleanse programme involving substantial part-exchanges of our older trailers that we couldn’t remarket,” said John. “We’ve now got the trailer fleet to where we want it to be, so we can rotate it every five years with a constant flow of really good spec trailers.
“In peak years, we have bought over 1,000 units and the least we have done is 600 in a year. At any one time we have 200 to 300 trailers on order or in progress.”
Fleet of Foot
Having this constant flow of trailers gives the team the flexibility to either push them into the rental fleet or change the spec at short notice to meet the specific needs of a contract hire customer.
John continued, “The underpinnings of the trailer remain the same. We wouldn’t change running gear or brakes, but it might end up with a variation in height or the colour of the curtains.
“That means that any mobile engineer can go out anywhere in the UK and, if they come to a Dawsongroup trailer, it will have the same underpinnings. If they needs a brake chamber or a slack adjuster, they’ve got one.”
That standardisation also extends to the rest of the trailer components, greatly simplifying repair and maintenance.
“Dawsons’ engineering department along with LD were the first to introduce a Dawsons standard wiring diagram and a Dawsons standard braking system,” said Chris. “Every one was done exactly the same way.”
While it might seem odd for an asset management business the size of Dawsongroup to have a single supplier for all its ambient trailers rather than playing the field, John said the arrangement delivers huge commercial benefits.
“The deal of the day is OK,” he said. “But what we get over time is trust and there are things built into the trailer, so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. We spend a lot of a time working with LD on how we build more quality into the product and that’s really important for us.
“If we can prevent a corner getting knocked off five years down the line, we’ve saved an argument over a charge and mitigated a cost for our customer. It also enhances LD’s position in the used market and, over the years that we have worked together, that has always been at the forefront.”
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