Travis Perkins has taken delivery of the 1,000th vehicle from its local Mercedes-Benz dealer. It was in 2008 that Northampton-based Travis Perkins plc placed its first orders with Intercounty Truck & Van, whose own headquarters are in nearby Wellingborough. Since then the partnership between the two companies has gone from strength to strength.
Fittingly, the landmark vehicle is a 3.5-tonne Sprinter. Intercounty has provided its customer with a variety of trucks, as well as three Vito vans and 11 small Citans. It is, however, the multi-award-winning Sprinter that accounts for the vast majority – 851, to be precise – of deliveries made over the last seven years.
One of 19 identical 314 CDI chassis cabs from the same order, the ‘special one’ is fitted, like all of Travis Perkins’ tool hire-specification vehicles, with a roof-mounted beacon, while its dropside body is by PPS Commercials, of Bury.
It is now working from the operator’s newly-opened branch in Cambridge, where customers are left in no doubt as to its significance by a strip of text across its front sun visor which announces: “Celebrating Travis Perkins’ 1,000th Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Supplied By Intercounty Truck & Van”.
The vehicle was painted on the production line in Travis Perkins’ familiar shade of green – the operator provided a sample and it has been an official Mercedes-Benz colour since 2014. However, the Travis Perkins Group owns more than 20 businesses and other Sprinters are now hard at work in the colours of well-known brands such as Benchmarx, City Plumbing andTool Station.
Group Fleet Director Graham Bellman is responsible for more than 10,000 pieces of equipment. “It’s a very substantial fleet which is spread across 2,056 different locations,” he explained. “We deliver 60% of everything we sell, yet 46% of our sites have only one vehicle.
“Whether it’s a dropsider with tail-lift and tow bar for our tool hire business, or a box-bodied unit for one of our plumbing and heating, or kitchen and joinery divisions, if the van lets us down, then we let our customer down. It is vital, therefore, that our vehicles should be up to the job.”
Mr Bellman recalled: “We carried out a rigorous tender process before committing to Mercedes-Benz, and the Sprinter is now firmly established as the light commercial vehicle of choice for our business. It is a premium product in every respect, exceptionally reliable and safe, with a good payload, and a fantastically high level of driver acceptance.”
He continued: “Although we’re not covering huge mileages – 35,000-40,000 a year is typical – these vehicles will be in service for eight or nine years. This means that fast, responsive back-up is essential.
“The Mercedes-Benz Dealer Network is first class. Unlike many of their competitors, its members are commercial specialists, so they understand the challenges of running an operation such as our own, and the importance of uptime in keeping our business moving.”
Mr Bellman also praised the service provided by Intercounty Truck & Van, and particularly its Customer Service Manager Jason Roberts, who is dedicated to its Travis Perkins account.
“Jason spends a couple of half-days in our office each week and is an integral part of the team,” he said. “He integrates seamlessly with our systems, and deals with up to a dozen different suppliers, each of which has input into the finished vehicle. He also knows our budgets and can forecast our requirements up to three years in advance, which is really important when it comes to planning ahead and thereby avoiding nasty shocks.
“In fact,” added Mr Bellman, “it adds up to a great combination. Mercedes-Benz has the Sprinter product right and we couldn’t ask for better support from its Dealer’s people.”