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Rob Hatfield Limited

The Scania trucks of today are just part of the story for this Hull-based general haulier

1st December 2022

"It was many years ago, long before I went out on my own, that I drove my first Scania truck," recalls Rob Hatfield, Managing Director of Rob Hatfield Limited, the firm he created back in 1990. "That vehicle was a 3-series R360M, and I was hooked immediately – at the time, many people said the 3-series was the best Scania ever, and I think they were right."


Starting out as a one-man-and-his-truck operator, Rob Hatfield began by establishing his business then growing it into one of Humberside's major transport forces. "It all boils down to hard work, there's no substitute for that," he says. "I knew that in order to succeed I had to focus on my customers and build a reputation for service and reliability – and the only way a haulier can do that is by having trucks they can depend on. I'm lucky that when I started I was already sold on Scania, and sticking with the brand has served me well over the years. They tick all the boxes as far as I'm concerned and today every one of the 30 vehicles in our fleet is a Scania – I'm Scania through and through!"


Developing a company at an average rate of one additional vehicle a year every year for three decades bears witness to the business success Rob Hatfield has generated. In addition to its trucks, the firm operates a mixed fleet of 50 or so curtainsider, skeletal and flat trailers, enabling it to take on a range of work spanning individual items to palletised goods to containerised loads. The fleet runs nationally, covering around 130,000 – 140,000 kilometres per vehicle per year on average.


While some of the company's drivers are out all week living in the cab, others do day work. "I like to do what we can in terms of keeping our drivers on-side," say Rob. "Good drivers are hard to come by, but we've got a great team – and the fact that two-thirds of our drivers have been with us for more than ten years suggests we must be doing something right!"


Included in Rob's 'doing something right' list are the V8 Scania trucks the company runs: "There's plenty of drivers out there who want to drive a V8, that's for sure," says Rob. "We buy a lot of them because they suit the kind of work we do. For instance, if you're running up to, say, Inverness, it helps to have a truck with a bit of grunt. The trick is to get your drivers to drive them properly so they get the best out of them in terms of efficiency and fuel consumption. For some drivers, the V8 is all about the noise. While I can appreciate that as a V8 fan, you have to respect the Scania V8 is a low-revving engine; you can let it lug down to 1,000 rpm and it will still climb the hills. Once the driver understands that, you're good to go."

Rob Hatfield sources his vehicles from Scania Hull, a wholly-owned branch of Scania (Great Britain) Limited. Each truck is purchased together with a three-year repair and maintenance (R&M) agreement included, which Rob extends to seven years, the maximum period offered. "Any vehicle we keep longer than that goes onto a separate maintenance contract," says Rob.


"I favour Scania's R&M contracts as they give me known costs, fixed in advance so I get no unpleasant surprises. Trucks can be so expensive to maintain these days – you could walk into a dealership with a carrier bag and easily fill it with more than £2,000 worth of parts – so I think a contract is essential for peace of mind. Scania Hull looks after all our maintenance, including our trailers. Having everything taken care of under one roof is another plus point as far as I am concerned."


Adding to Rob's peace of mind is Scania's nationwide dealer network, which has 86 service centres located throughout the UK: "As an operator running nationally we need to know back up is at hand should we need it," says Rob. "We don't get many breakdowns as such these days, if anything goes wrong it's usually down to wear and tear. Scania's roadside assistance service (Scania Assistance) is there if we need it, and our R&M agreements allow us to use other dealers in the Scania network if something needs doing while a vehicle is away."


As an operator who has built a successful business using the Scania brand, Rob Hatfield allows his professional achievements to extend into his personal life. "I have to admit that Scania is also my passion and my hobby," he says. "So much so that I've built a collection of Scania vehicles from across the years, stretching all the way to a Scania Vabis LB76, the very first model Scania imported into the UK back in the mid-1960s. I've now got ten historic Scanias from over the years. Among them is one of the very first 4-series models ever to arrive in the UK – it was one of two driven over from Sweden by a journalist as an extended road test just after the range was launched. Ultimately, I'm looking to put my entire collection on show in my own Scania museum!"


Until that happens, Rob's fellow enthusiasts will have to satisfy themselves by spotting his trucks out on the road, which should be easy due to their eye-catching blue and grey liveries.


"I went for those colours as they were used by Tom Fisher of Newbald, who my father used to drive for back in the '60s and '70s," explains Rob. "I asked Mr Fisher if that would be OK, and he said he didn't mind at all. I thought the colours were very distinctive, so we've stuck with them. We painted one of our trucks metallic blue and grey to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Today my son drives it, and I have to say that while it cost a fair bit more to paint, it really does look great!"