Bosses at Stalkers Transport Services are hoping to replicate their recent success at the Cumbria Family Business Awards 2018 when they attend the national finals in June.
Back in March, the Brampton-based company were celebrating after being awarded the title of Family Business of the Year: Transport and Logistics at the prestigious event, which saw more than 300 people gather at Carlisle’s Garden at Eden to celebrate the best of the county’s businesses which keep it in the family.
Hosted by popular Hairy Biker star, Si King, the glittering ceremony served as a bit of a bonus birthday party for Stalkers, which is marking its 50th anniversary in 2018.
And brother and sister management team Karen and David Stalker are hoping to continue the celebrations when the national finals take place on June 7 at the May Fair Hotel in London.
Managing Director Karen, said: “We were absolutely delighted to have been given the award.”
“We pride ourselves on being a genuine third generation family business and are committed to the business continuing to grow and succeed from a foundation of good old fashioned family values and hard work. We see this award as a huge thank you to all of our employees.”
Operations director, David, added: “We’re very proud to have been recognised as a thriving family business.
“The fact that Stalkers is a family business has undoubtedly played an invaluable role during the ups and downs the company has gone through over the years. We couldn’t be happier to have won and are looking forward to the national finals.”
The siblings took charge of the haulage firm following the death of their father, Hughie in 2013. It was their grandfather, Edward who started the firm back in 1968, using his first heavy goods vehicle to carry stones from quarries across Cumbria for the construction of the new M6 motorway.
Having faced some serious and complex issues – a low point seeing them being offered just £1 for the business from a prominent Dragon’s Den star, which they politely declined! – Karen and David have built a reputation for being resilient, determined and people-focused.
A dedicated depot staff are testament to this with six traffic operators notching up 114 years of service between them – a shining example of Stalkers’ low staff turnover.
Meanwhile many of the firm’s customers have also remained loyal for decades; rewarding the company for its focus on high levels of customer satisfaction.
After taking the reins at the company, Karen and David decided it needed a fresh new look. In 2015, the logo was redesigned, the entire fleet was re-branded and a vibrant new website was launched alongside social media accounts to raise the Stalkers profile.
More recently, Stalkers, who run a fleet of entirely Daf CF trucks took ownership of 6 brand new Euro 6 Daf XF480 super space cabs trucks to commemorate their 50th birthday. The trucks, in Stalkers original red, white and blue colours were supplied by their local dealer Solway Daf Ltd from nearby Carlisle, a company that Stalkers highly regard as a contributing factor having purchased hundreds of vehicles from Solway over the past five decades.
But it hasn’t all been about aesthetic considerations.
Stalkers also invested heavily in technology, replacing hard and software throughout the business as well as installing telematics across the fleet, which resulted in fuel spend dropping from 42% to 30% of costs. (Telematics monitor driver behaviour and score them accordingly.) Together with forward facing cameras, these have also drastically reduced insurance claims resulting in positive reactions from their insurance provider.
Stalkers have invested heavily in expanding their warehouse space and in new equipment for their workshop, not only to bring their own fleet maintenance in-house but to offer a high quality third party commercial service and repair facility. That together with a secure parking and change-over area and a 24 hour Northern Gateway Hub to supply a safely handled onward delivery service to Scotland makes Stalkers ideally located and proficient at assisting other hauliers to reduce their costs and improve their carbon footprint.
All the above has certainly paid off. Pre-tax profits in 2016 were £268,000; a remarkable turnaround from the £600,000 losses posted in 2011.
In 2018, the company form part of the Cumbria Transport Group. CTG works with Cumbria LEP as the expert panel in its research to develop a sector skills plan for logistics, an area that Karen is passionate about given the locally intensified shortage of qualified drivers. Together they engage with the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North as well as marketing the diversity of the logistics sector to young people as well as older people already in work who maybe looking for a change of career.
Stalkers currently employs almost 100 staff and operates a fleet of 60 vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week and boasts state of the art technology throughout the business while remaining committed to good old fashioned family values.
For more information on Stalkers Transport Services, visit www.stalkerstransport.co.uk