Valley Traction Services Limited
6th January 2022
A variety of truck specifications give this East Anglian transport operator the flexibility its business demands.
The residents of Wymondham, a small South Norfolk market town, have something of a reputation as being open to change. A well documented early example is that of local farmer Robert Kett, who in 1549 was challenged by rebels looking to seize his land. Rather than resisting, Kett listened to their demands, was won over, and offered to lead the rebels in their revolt instead. While it didn't work out well for Kett – he ended up being hanged from the walls of Norwich Castle – the episode serves to illustrate the point of open-mindedness among local folk.
Fast forward to 2018 and Shayn Winsor, owner and Managing Director of Wymondham-based plant and equipment mover, Valley Traction Services Limited, known locally as Valley Services, attended an industry event with a number of local hauliers. At the time, there were no Scania trucks at all in Shayn's fleet. A conversation with a fellow operator who had just purchased two would change all that: "He said to me, you need to try them – they're awesome!" says Shayn. "I listened and was impressed by what he told me – he was sold on them and very enthusiastic. So when I got home, I called the sales manager at our local Scania dealer, TruckEast, to find out more. It didn't take long before I signed up for my first two Scanias."
Fortunately, Shayn's tale had a rather happier outcome than that of Robert Kett, and today Valley Services operates a fleet of eight high specification Scania trucks. "Those first two Scanias performed just as the others had said," says Shayn. "They thoroughly proved themselves in terms of reliability and fuel consumption, and our drivers were very positive about them. So we have continued to add them to the point where Scania currently makes up around half of our total fleet."
The nature of Valley Traction Services' work calls for a variety of specifications. "While most of our work is in the construction industry, we do a number of other types of job as well," says Shayn. "Firstly, we do a lot of storage tank movements. These are large tanks which are typically used for holding water or fuel. As we can be delivering them almost anywhere, we need to be able to load them on and off by truck-mounted cranes. We also move heavy machinery for the waste management and recycling industry, and this again calls for cranes.
"Then there's container work. Here we do movements of regular shipping containers and also containers which have been converted to serve other purposes, such as being used as offices at events like festivals or construction sites.
"We also need flexibility. Sometimes we're attending sites with extremely restricted access, so we need the ability to operate a rear-steer solo rigid. On other occasions, it's more about volume, so we specify our rigids as drawbar trucks. Over and above that, some of our work calls for semi-trailers, so we need artics too."
Shayn has currently settled on three Scania specifications. Two are R 500 8x2*6 four-axle drawbar rigids with steering first, second and fourth axles. These are equipped with 25 feet long flat bodies with onboard cranes. The remaining six vehicles are all tractor units comprising four R 500s, two of which have cranes, and two 540 Ss, one with a crane and one without. All are plated at 44-tonnes gross train weight.
Each vehicle is equipped with Scania's Highline sleeper cab. While the normal height roof in Scania new generation trucks offers a ceiling height of 10 centimetres greater than the previous generation, the high roof version is even more spacious with an additional 16 centimetres of head height. "Our drivers are away for two nights a week on average and live in the cab while they're out on the road – so we give them the best we possibly can," says Shayn. "In addition to the more spacious cab, the seats are all leathered up and look great."
Image is also important to Shayn, inside and out, so his trucks are also equipped with light bars, which are both eye-catching and practical, and a head-turning silver and red livery.
The nature of Valley Services work takes its fleet all over the UK and beyond into Europe. "Our trucks cover around 100,000 kilometres a year each on average, with some doing up to 130,000 kilometres," says Shayn. "Going on and off sites means its tough work which places a heavy demand on the vehicles. So we extend the three-year repair and maintenance contracts that come with our Scania trucks to cover our full period of ownership, which can be seven or so years in the case of our crane vehicles."
Underpinning Shayn's commitment to Scania is his relationship with TruckEast, whose local dealership is in nearby Norwich. "I have to say we have an excellent relationship with TruckEast," says Shayn. "On the service side, they are fantastic. Everything gets done properly and we are kept informed every step of the way. Our sales manager is great too. He keeps in touch and comes round almost every week. If there's any issue needing sorting, he's onto it. Today, I'd say he's actually more of a friend than just a supplier; our partnership really is that good."
Shayn Winsor has now been in business for more than 25 years. In that time, he has risen from the ranks of owner-driver to build a sizeable company serving a raft of clients, many of which have been customers of Valley Traction Services for more than 20 years. Having already achieved considerable business success, does the company now have its sights set on further growth?
"Not really," replies Shayn. "Today we have 18 trucks in all and a couple of warehouses on two three-acre sites. We're also a family firm – my partner Emma, son Ross, sister Paula and brother-in-law Andrew all work in the business. We have had opportunities to get bigger, but we're happy the way we are. I believe there's an ideal size for a haulage company, and for me, it's about achieving that balance. As I see it, today we have a great company and a great fleet of trucks. Put everything we have together, and you'll see we're big enough to cope but small enough to care – and that ticks an awful lot of boxes for us and our customers!"