Daniel Louisy, YouTube star and UK trucking operator, reckons running a tipper proved to be a lot more complicated than he expected. Looking back he describes the experience as ‘a baptism of fire’. It didn’t help that he didn’t have his truck licence when he bought the truck, so had to learn rapidly.
“If we priced a job, and two other competitors priced it, I would end up having to use their sand,” explains Daniel. “And they would invariably say ‘we ain’t got no sand’. I would say ‘I can see sand over there’, and they’d say ‘that’s not for you, that’s for a special job’. I kept coming unstuck. I needed my own railhead.”
In July 2019 the first train rolled into Ashville Aggregates’ 12,000 square metre site. As well as being a great move for his company, Daniel sees the railhead as being positive for both the economy and the environment.
Ashville currently receives three or four trains a week, pulling 22 wagons, each loaded with 75 tonnes of product. My visit coincided with the arrival of 1,650 tonnes of 6C fill material, all destined for High Speed Two, a multi-billion-dollar rail project that will ultimately link London with the north of England and Scotland.
Ashville has just four hours to unload each train, or face a heavy fine. But so far this hasn’t been a problem, due to Daniel’s pride and joy, an $850,000 Liebherr LH60 clamshell, and its skilled operator Wayne Inkpen.
When the trains started to arrive, it became immediately apparent that additional trucks were needed. More 8×4 tippers were added (see box item), taking the fleet total to 35. And there are more on order for delivery later this year.
Daniel is one of the most driven and ambitious people I have ever interviewed, so it comes as little surprise when he tells me that this isn’t the end of Ashville’s expansion plans.
“I have some magic numbers in my head in regard to the fleet size,” says Daniel. “And within 10 years I would like to have our own train, and our own quarry. So, if we are at this location, I would like the other end [of the railway line] to also be ours too. We’d be the masters of our own destiny.”
He also has plans to step-up his social media presence, which he considers to be a significant string to the company’s bow.
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.”
Before the interview ends, I have one last question for Daniel. Isn’t he concerned that Ashville Aggregates’ massive social media presence might be assisting its competition?
“I know it’s frowned upon to show people what you’re doing, but it doesn’t bother me. Usain Bolt could tell me what training he does, but I’m not going to get any faster, especially not at my age” he says.
An Ashville Tipper
Although it is still running its original DAF tipper, these days Ashville Aggregates tends to only buy Scania. “They’re a good truck, and the drivers really like them,” says Daniel.
He has eight 8×4 tippers on order now, an even mix of XT P410s and low-entry L-series, all with two-pedal transmissions.
All new tippers are specified with Scania’s City Safe window cut into the bottom of the nearside doors. This additional glazing is encouraged by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan in his quest to reduce deaths of vulnerable road users in the capital.
“I do everything I can to make them as safe as possible,” says Daniel.