Case study: Clark Transport Ltd

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The Clark family from Widnes will be marking a very impressive milestone next year - 65 years in business.

Clark Transport Ltd is a cargo and freight company and has been a familiar sight on the countries roads since establishing back in 1953.

The company was set up by brothers Barney and Alan Clark, in the early days their main custom came from cane sugar producers Tate & Lyle.

Bulmer’s, Coca Cola, Nestle and Britvic are just some of the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies that have been on their books.

In 1982 Alan’s son Phillip joined the team and introduced the business to the world of pallet redemption.

“We supply, delivery, collect and repair pallets, these pallets are hired out to companies to transport their goods on,” said Phillip, operations director at Clark Transport Ltd.

“We offer this service to over 40 companies, one of which is Britvic who we’ve worked with for over 30 years now.”

In 1990 the team was joined by Barney’s son Keith who as transport director is in charge of the whereabouts of the company’s 15 44-tonne delivery lorries. 

“Fifteen years ago we had six drivers, today we have 55 staff in total, including warehouse, office, and maintenance staff as well as 14 drivers,” said Phillip.

“We bought new premises in 2009, moving from 1.75 acre site to a 4.5 acre site.”

As director Barney, who turns 86 next month, is still very much involved in the running of Clark Transport but leaves the day to day decisions in the capable hands of his son and nephew.

“Every day is a challenge but we enjoy the challenge,” said Philip.

“Keith and I work 12 hours a day – we could retire but we love what we do.

“This is a family run business, we are both very proud of it.”

As operations director, Philip has ‘several jobs’, one of which is driving.

“Vehicles can be late, delayed or break down – the job still needs to be done so we have to cover deliveries and the drivers including illness and holidays.

“Uncle Barney and my father Alan, who passed away four years ago, were worker drivers – Keith and I are the same.

“The customer always comes first.”

Keith best explains his job as being given a box at the beginning of each day with a puzzle inside, only the box has been shook up.

“It’s Keith’s job to put it all back together again and ensure that all collections and deliveries are completed as efficiently as possible,” laughed Philip.

“Each vehicle has 3/5 loads per day, deliveries and collections need to be booked in, its Keith’s job to make sure this all happens smoothly.

“Luckily we have a very supportive team, we all work together.”

For the past 12/13 years Clark Transport has worked with Dutch company IPP LOGIPAL.

“We are their largest UK service centre and have helped them move into the UK market,” said Phillip.

“IPP LOGIPAL pallets are used for deliveries, once the delivery has been made we collect the pallets and bring them here to our service centre.

“The pallets are then inspected, good ones are sent straight back out, and those that need repairing are done so by our team here and sent back out again.”

Loyalty is a strong trait in this family business, along with its staff and customers the companies accountants have also been a constant in the Clark Transport unit.

“We joined Ellis & Co around 1990,” said Phillip.

“Robert has always been able to look after our needs.

“We’ve worked well together all these years, I would highly recommend Ellis & Co.”