Lappin International - dedicated to the service
Efficiency is one of the greatest assets to obtain when running a successful haulage company. There are so many daily issues to contend with that everything has to run smoothly.
The time constraints within the industry are massive, but the more experienced haulage firms have the knowledge and know-how to deal with all eventualities.
The haulage industry has gone through a turbulent time over the last few years, but certainly in the last eighteen months or so, there has been a huge improvement across the board.
This industry is arguably the most competitive business to be involved as margins between success and failure are a very fine line.
There are so many issues to deal with on a daily basis that anyone outside and never involved in the industry would beg to ask the question why bother?
To answer that question we contacted Lappin International MD Karl Lappin who has saw a huge growth in his business since first setting up the company eight years ago.
Karl and his wife Claire run the business from their premises in Poyntzpass, on the Armagh and Down border and from humble beginnings where one truck was operated, they now have a fleet of twelve providing a loyal and efficient service to their ever-expanding customer base as they provide general haulage and refrigeration services that sees them operate throughout Ireland and the U.K.
Karl revealed that one of the secrets to their success has been to keep the customer happy.
“We are there for the customer and anything they need done, we will do it to the best of our abilities. We have always prided ourselves on getting the job done on time,” said Karl.
“We’ve always tried to keep the overheads down and we’ve managed to grow every year. As I said, we are fortunate with the customer base that we have. We are there to provide them with the best service possible and once we continue to do that then we should be ok.
The success of any business can be attributed to a dedicated workforce and Karl revealed that is certainly the case for them.
“The drivers are very experienced and very diligent when it comes to time-keeping and getting the work done efficiently. Without them, we would struggle to cope, there is no doubt about that.
“We have 10 drivers here. It gives us great peace of mind knowing that they can go off on a job and there will be no issues with them. They look after the trucks very well too and that is an important part of the job.”
One issue that Karl does have with the industry is the difficulty in sourcing experienced, reliable drivers as he feels that it is an industry that not many of the next generation are willing to get involved in.
“There are not many young drivers coming through and for those that are showing an interest, it is almost impossible to insure them and they just go off and pursue other careers. It is a situation that needs to be addressed as there are many drivers that are getting nearer to retirement age and there is no one to replacement them.”
Given today's rapidly changing market place, the service level required and the expectations of the clients, there is an ever present need for solid communication, understanding and flexibility. These three areas in particular form the foundation of the core operating principles at the company.
On that basis they believe that they can offer their customers a superior quality of service that is customised to meet the customers' needs, and at the same time prove to be financially attractive.
“Quality is key to the success of any business. If you are not producing a quality service then the customer will take their business elsewhere, it's as simple as that, so for us, the focus is always on quality.
“It is all about the customer at the end of the day and once they are happy then we must be doing something right. Looking to the future, the aim will be keep them happy and grow as they grow.”
Scania is the preferred choice of truck for Karl as he feels they are the most reliable for the type of work that Lappin International carry out.
“The Scanias are hard to beat when it comes to reliability. The fleet would range from 2004 to 2015 and we would do a lot of the maintenance ourselves, with some of it subbed out.
“I would purchase the trucks from various sources including NI Trucks, Moody’s and from private sales.”
Karl added that there are many overheads in the industry, but the biggest bill still comes from diesel, which is on the rise once again.
“Yeah, the diesel bill is the biggest, it has been up and down over the last few months and is currently on the rise again. The Scanias are fairly efficient, but regardless, the bill is still very big.”
Karl is pleased with the direction of the business as they have grown considerably over the past eight years, especially as he had no background in the industry beforehand.
“I came in with no real experience, but you learn very quickly in this industry because if you don’t then you won’t be in business very long. We are fortunate to have a customer base that is very good. We work for the likes of Morgan McLernon, CPL and MMD Transport and we have a good working relationship with them.”
One area that Karl has concerns over is the looming threat of Brexit which has brought about a lot of certainty in the market.
“It is very hard to know what will happen. We are sailing across to mainland UK on a regular basis, so of course we would like to know how that will affect us. It is a waiting game really as we just have to wait and see what happens.”
35 Acton Village
Published in Irish Trucker & Light Commercials magazine, March/April 2020, Vol 23 No 2