Daniel Louisy is a new breed of UK truck operator and YouTube celebrity, PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers met up with him for the day.
“We’re builders by trade,” says Daniel, talking to me as one of his full-time videographers captures the interview for the next Ashville Weekly episode. “And were doing bathrooms, extensions, kitchens, lofts and basements.”
He explains that on one occasion in 2013 he had a team of men digging a basement in south west London, but they had to down tools because the skip was full, and there was no sign that it was about to be collected.
“So there were 10 fellas in the basement, everyone sitting around smoking cigarettes, and I said ‘why aren’t you digging?’, and they said ‘how can we when the skip is full?’” Daniel recalls. “So the next day I decided I’d had enough, and said I’m getting a truck.”
By his own admission, Daniel knew nothing about trucks, but that wasn’t going to deter him. After a little bit of advice from friend Aidan Kavanagh from local firm Harrier Grabs, and his soon-to-be fitter Noel Wright, he purchased himself a used DAF CF85 8×4 tipper grab.
“Aidan bought DAFs, so I bought one too,” says Daniel, explaining the thought process behind that first purchase.
Running a tipper proved to be a lot more complicated than he’d expected, and looking back he describes the experience as ‘a baptism of fire’. It didn’t help that he didn’t have his heavy goods vehicle driving licence when he bought the truck, so had to learn rapidly.
“I used to drive it, and then pull over and use the laptop on the passenger seat to run the business. I was learning as I was going along. It was difficult, but I managed to navigate my way through it,” says Daniel.
Having invested in a truck, suddenly the company found itself with very few basements to dig. So, Daniel went looking for work elsewhere.
“I knew who my building competitors were, as I would see their names on tenders,” he says. “So I went to them all and said ‘I can’t beat the others on price, but I’ll be there when I say I’ll be there’.”
This approach worked, and one tipper-grab very soon became three tipper-grabs and a tipper. Then one of the London councils banned grabs from taking out of skips, resulting in Ashville losing work. “So we started buying skip trucks too,” Daniel says. This was quickly followed by another change in direction.
“We would arrive at a job only to be told we couldn’t load as a concrete truck was there, and that the concrete truck was more important.” says Daniel. “We bought a volumetric concrete truck. Then we had a concrete truck, grabs, tippers and skips, but then when we turned up with the concrete truck, people were telling us that the pump wasn’t there, we’d have to wait. So, we bought a pump too.”
More recently the company made the move into semi tippers too, with the purchase of a pair of Scania XT R500 6×2 prime movers with Kelberg tipping trailers.
But there was still one serious hurdle to overcome, as Daniel explains: “If we priced a job, and two other competitors priced it, I would end up having to use their sand. 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.