Family-owned Fred Smith & Sons has treated itself to a very special 75th birthday present, in the shape of two New Actros tractor units from Mercedes-Benz dealer Midlands Truck & Van.
Fred Smith’s rental customers are the ones who should really be celebrating, though, as the 4×2 flagships have taken pride of place on the West Bromwich-based company’s spot hire fleet.
The new trucks are 1845 models and designed to achieve maximum fuel-efficiency – features include state-of-the-art 450hp engines which drive through the latest Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions, and aerodynamic, flat-floored StreamSpace cabs. Both also wear "75th anniversary" decals above their windscreens.
Truck Rental Director Clarke Smith explained: "This year represents a very important milestone for our business, so we were keen that our new vehicles should have a high impact on the road, and double as a mobile billboard for the Fred Smith & Sons brand."
He continued: "The New Actros was the obvious choice. It’s a fantastic vehicle and represents the very latest in truck technology, as well as being a real head-turner thanks to its futuristic appearance. We’ve only had the trucks a couple of days but have already received lots of positive feedback from customers commenting on how great they look."
Launched at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham last April, New Actros is the 2012 International Truck of the Year and sets previously unseen standards for comfort, driving dynamics and efficiency.
Fred Smith & Sons was founded in 1937, when Mr Smith’s great-grandfather set up his own coachbuilding business in Lyng Lane, West Bromwich. Today, Clarke Smith’s brother Greg is Managing Director and their cousin James Company Secretary, while three other members of the Smith family also play active roles in the business and sit on the Board.
Fred Smith & Sons moved in 1977 to its current head office on nearby Sams Lane, where it manufactures a full range of dry freight and refrigerated bodywork for trucks and vans, and provides specialist paint and repair services for cars as well as commercial vehicles.
Meanwhile, Fred Smith’s MoT and servicing division continues to operate from the original Lyng Lane premises, and the rental operation is based at a third site on Kelvin Way. The rental fleet extends to some 320 vans, trucks and trailers – a proportion of these are assigned to customers on fixed contracts, but most are available for short-term hire.
In addition to the two New Actros the rental fleet includes a number of 18- and 26-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor rigids supplied over the last couple of years by Midlands Truck & Van, Wolverhampton, which is also due to deliver another 18-tonner shortly.
"We fit these vehicles with our own bodies and maintain them in house," added Mr Smith. "But the dealer’s sales service, and parts and warranty back-up are first class."