Staffordshire truck and trailer rental specialist J Clarke Transport Ltd has taken delivery of its first new Mercedes-Benz trucks – and sent them straight out to work on a recently won contract with a leading supermarket group.
Plated for operation at 38 tonnes gvw, all are 4×2 Axor 1840 tractor units with standard (S) cabs and fuel-efficient 400hp 12-litre engines, which drive through 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift automated transmissions.
The Tamworth-based company’s new trucks arrived via Mercedes-Benz dealer Midlands Truck & Van, which also supplied its six new Sprinter vans in 2010.
Key to J Clarke’s decision to place its latest order, however, was the outstanding reliability of a pre-owned 26-tonne Axor curtainsider, bought when 18-months-old and assigned for the last four years to a long-term contract customer.
"That truck has been no trouble at all, just a fabulous vehicle," said Operations Director Robert Pallett. "This explains why, in addition to the 10 new tractors, we’ve also recently bought two more secondhand Axors, a 26-tonne curtainsider and an 18-tonne platform with crane."
J Clarke Transport can trace its roots as far back as 1950. It was primarily a haulage company until 2005 when, in the face of the financial pressures familiar to so many operators, it changed tack in order to focus on what had previously been a sideline – truck and trailer rental.
The wisdom of that decision is underlined by the fact that it now operates a fleet of more than 250 trucks and vans which are either the subject of long-term rental agreements with customers or available for ‘spot hire’.
"We’ve concentrated on providing locally-based operators with a first-class rental service," said Mr Pallett, "and as a result, the business has gone from strength to strength."
J Clarke’s headquarters are at Elford, to the north-west of Tamworth. In addition to vehicle and trailer rental it also offers repair services, and recently opened a second, workshop facility on the opposite side of town at Dordon.
The rental company was already maintaining its supermarket customer’s equipment when it landed the prestigious new vehicle and trailer supply contract.
Operating from a regional distribution centre nearby, the Axors pull refrigerated trailers – including four new single-deck, dual-temperature versions which J Clarke has just purchased from Gray & Adams – and are delivering to stores throughout the Midlands.
Mr Pallett added: "Midlands Truck & Van were very helpful and we’ve taken advantage of some highly competitive Mercedes-Benz finance which was arranged by the dealer. The trucks have also been very well received by our customer and its drivers, so it’s all looking good."