Fairalls stays with DAF as fleet grows
31st August, 2016. With 115 years in business behind them, and now focussed on their four south-east sites, the independent, family-owned firm of Fairalls (Builders’ Merchants) Ltd. continues to grow steadily, necessitating a recent increase in fleet numbers. A DAF CF 330 FAN 26-tonne 6x2 rear-steer has just started work at the company’s Godstone headquarters in Surrey, with a DAF LF 180 FA 16-tonner joining it. Both vehicles carry rear-mounted Atlas cranes. The business now runs 11 trucks, all DAF.
Asked about the latest additions to the fleet, Transport & Plant Manager, Paul Burke, said, “In truth, the 260-tonner was going to be a replacement vehicle, but the work keeps growing, so we have kept the older vehicle and both new arrivals are now pure fleet additions.
“The 26-tonne DAF CF 6x2 was spec’d with rear steer to cope with the rear-mounted Atlas crane. It will deliver 1.8t at its maximum reach of 7.5 metres, so it needed a good solid base to work from. The rear-steer CF gives us great manoeuvrability as well as a genuine 12-tonne payload, even with the big crane, so we can get into tight corners of sites and deliver right where customers want. The DAF LF 16-tonner is a 4x2 of course, but for the same reasons of wanting to get the rear-mounted crane onto a stable base and delivering into tight corners, this one specifically for our retail work in urban areas, we spec’d the short wheel base version. Both work well for us. You can’t really beat DAF for our sort of work. They are the right price and reliable.”
Fairalls buys its trucks on outright purchase with standard DAF MultiSupport R&M. It then relies on local dealer, Channel Commercials, for routine maintenance and service work, with which Paul Burke declares himself, “Very happy. Channel offers us overnight and weekend servicing, and even a courtesy van to our drivers so they don’t have any problems getting home or back to the depot.”
Even the occasional roadside emergency has had Paul smiling. He said, “One of our vehicles had a minor breakdown while out on a round of deliveries a few weeks ago and, entirely by chance, there was a DAFaid van going in the other direction. The driver spotted our truck, turned round, came back and helped it out. OK, it was a happy coincidence they were on the same road, but that was pretty exceptional service, and I’m not sure you’d get that level of support anywhere else. To be honest, even putting that incident to one side, I think DAF has it just right with DAFaid. For me it’s the best service there is.”
Fairalls new DAFs are returning ‘better than average’ fuel we are told, and their drivers are very happy with them. The company, an active FTA member, tries hard to give its drivers a good place of work, adding air-conditioning and more comfortable seats as part of the basic spec on all vehicles they buy.
The fleet, all managed by Paul Burke, now in his fifth year with the business after a background in general haulage and pallet networks, operates across all four of the company’s depots: two in Godstone, one in Gatwick and one in Sevenoaks. The vehicles are largely based at the company’s main site in Godstone, formerly one of the family’s sand quarries in the early years of its business life, with a couple working out of the more distant Sevenoaks site. Their work is spread across general trade builder customers, large and small developers and a very active ‘retail’ sector – the latter covering everything for a few patio slabs to all the materials for a complete home extension. The business also has its own bagging operations at Godstone, filling sand, gravel, ballast and decorative aggregates into everything from 25kg packs up to 1-tonne builders’ bags.