PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers, met a new breed of tech-savvy haulier, but is Daniel Louisy a new breed of operator, trucker or influencer? If you spend a lot of time on YouTube, you’ve probably already seen him.
British tipper operators aren’t always at the cutting edge of technology. They are the last group of hauliers to widely accept automatic transmissions, and as for telematics, there’s nothing that can’t be calculated on the back of a cigarette packet!
All too often when I arrive at a yard it’s to find myself ankle-deep in mud, while a snarling Alsatian keeps it beady eyes on me as I cautiously approach the portable cabin with a hand-written ‘office’ sign in the window.
But London-based Ashville Aggregates is different. Don’t get me wrong, my shoes are immediately caked in mud when I step out of my car, but instead of a growling dog blocking my passage to the portable office, there’s a cameraman. That’s because this place is run by social media influencer Daniel Louisy, and there’s nothing this tech-savvy boss does that isn’t filmed and uploaded to YouTube. Daniel is a new breed of young operator, who has not only embraced social media, but has helped to build his business on the back of it.
“You need to remember that I’m not second, third or fourth generation, and when I started I didn’t have 30 years of clients already on my books,” says the 38-year-old. “You have to work to your strengths, and this [YouTube videos] is one of mine.”
I’m not just talking about a few hundred followers either. The company’s YouTube channel has more than 200,000 subscribers, and the ‘Ashville Weekly’ bulletins frequently get in excess of 250,000 views. More than 1.5 million people watched his ‘A Day in the Life of a Construction Entrepreneur’ episode, and 238,000 tuned in to see him crash a brand new Mercedes-Benz Actros demonstrator into the back of a VW Golf.
So why do so many people watch every week? Well it helps that it’s entertaining (where else do you go to watch someone play golf with a Liebherr clamshell and a VW Golf?), and that frontman Daniel is charismatic, outspoken, and extremely likeable. But the main reason why it’s such compelling viewing, is simply because this self-made boss has a great story to tell. After all, there aren’t many companies that can boast of expanding from zero to 35 trucks and a railhead in just eight years.
Dismissing my suggestion that the YouTube videos are little more than an unnecessary luxury, and unlikely to actually win Ashville Aggregates any work, Daniel says: “I used to spend a lot of money on Google Ad Words, but at £5 ($9) per click, what’s that actually doing for me? My competitors would click continually and run up a bill for me. Instead of spending that money with Google, I’d sooner invest it in my business.
“These days, when the phone rings, they don’t say ‘I found you on Google’. Some people might say ‘I saw one of your trucks’, but most say ‘I watched one of your videos’. Obviously there are people watching it all over the world, and I’m not going to deliver a skip to Australia, although I will if the money is right, but we do get work as a result.”