David Shaw, Fleet Maintenance Manager at Maxi Haulage, talks about rising through the ranks and personal development in his search for a bright future with the company.
Aged 16, it was either The Good Life or a step out into the big wide world for David, whose family run a Warrington-based farm growing everything from potatoes to pumpkins. Determined to set out on his own, Dave successfully gained his first paid role as an apprentice with Scottish haulage group, W.H Malcolm. Here, working 11-hour days, Dave put his love of engines into practice maintaining a fleet of hundreds of vehicles and trailers, learning to manage the needs of the drivers and a busy garage plus putting himself through his Class 1.
Over the course of 14 years, Dave swapped learning the ropes for mentoring apprentices, progressing through the workshop to the role of foreman, Dave proudly recalls as a ‘reflection of the fact that if you work hard, it will take you places’.
At 30, and with a baby on the way, Dave decided it was time for a change, in a role where he could apply all the things he’d learnt in a new environment. He’s been with Maxi Haulage for two years, recently graduating from their 2019 Development Scheme.
Could you describe everyday life at Maxi?
No two days are the same, I could be out on the road commissioning new trucks, or on my hands and knees under a trailer making sure a service has been done correctly. I really enjoy having the authority to be involved in so many different areas. One thing I’d be completely lost without is my phone. A big part of my position involves overseeing the performance of the fleet and so I’m constantly speaking to drivers, workshops and suppliers to keep everything running smoothly. It can be a tall order dealing with breakdowns across the four countries of the United Kingdom – around the clock!
How important is it to have a strong footing in the industry?
It means a lot. You learn how to play to people’s strengths and have a clear view of how to manage vendors and suppliers. It’s not necessarily all about using the cheapest, it’s about building up a network of reliable contacts who get the job done when they say they will. Having said that, holding those relationships is also key to knowing when you can be a bit cheeky and ensure pricing remains competitive too! I’ve also learnt that a driver knows the vehicle better than any manual. They’re your eyes and ears on the road and so maintaining a good working relationship with them is beneficial both ways – they’ll help you out with photos of damage and accurate descriptions, and you can get them back on the road faster. Having an in-depth technical knowledge, and my Class 1, means I’m on a level, I can put myself in different shoes.
Why did you choose to take part in this year’s Development Scheme?
I want to progress, so that’s always been a driver for me. I was really excited to be asked to attend this year’s Scheme. It’s recognised within the company as a great way to expand your knowledge and understand the different functions of the business. I think it’s also pretty impressive that Alan Miles [MD] delivers the course, and alongside the obvious professional benefits it was great to learn about what he considers markers for success, and the importance of putting time into developing myself; whether that’s working smarter, like understanding the impact of vehicle loading and routing for maximum efficiencies, or other areas like how to present and getting my head around the commercial aspects of the business.
Professionally, I’d like to maximise my time on the Scheme and take forward a few points that really stood out to me. Having time out to develop and think about next steps is crucial, and I’ve come away with fresh ideas of what I’d like to do to expand on my role like a thorough review of our processes and clever tips like bulk ordering parts when I know a supplier has a sales target to hit [and they’ll likely be flexible on price]. My aim is to continue working upwards, I’ve already warned my Head of Department he needs to watch out!
Personally, I want to continue to enjoy the benefits that Maxi delivers, strong working relationships, a realistic balance of working hours and home life and the opportunity to prosper in an industry I’m really passionate about.