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Surviving and thriving when facing adversity

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As part of Teletrac Navman’s Going the Extra Mile campaign, Heather Waters interviewed the latest Hidden Heroes deserving of a special shout out – T Alun Jones. Speaking with the haulage firm’s transport manager Beth Jones, Heather heard how their drivers have worked tirelessly throughout a tumultuous period during the last 18 months.

 

Navigating the challenges

Throughout the pandemic, the whole team at T Alun Jones – a family-run haulage, storage, and distribution company based in mid Wales – had to master the shifting sands of the pandemic to make sure their drivers, teams, and customers continued to receive the maximum support.

Beth commented: “When the pandemic hit, it was utter chaos. Everything just dropped off. It went extremely quiet, and we didn't really know what would happen. However, we managed to carry on as some of our long-term customers gave us drips and drabs of work to keep us all going.

“Then suddenly work picked up, and now we’re busier than ever. Since then, the traffic volume on the roads has surged to levels higher than those pre-pandemic, which means more hours spent sitting in traffic, more delays, and more disruption in general. And the knock-on effects can be challenging, for example, if we miss a distribution centre time slot, we risk not getting another until the following day, which really sets us back. So, we owe a big thanks to the team for being so brilliant and patient on the job during such testing times.”

As such, a key priority for Beth has been supporting those behind the wheel: “We make sure we speak to them as often as we can, so we know what they need. Not just with practical elements like PPE, but emotionally. Mental health-wise, it is quite an unsociable job, with them in the lorry on their own, so we just check a lot, make sure everything is okay and encourage them to talk.”

Beth sang the teams praises for being so instrumental during Covid and beyond: “Our staff are amazing. We've got long-standing staff such as Gareth Jones, also known as Skippy, who has been here for more than two decades – so, older than me – and new faces. Everyone is excellent.”

 

 

 

 

A big year

As well as 2021 being a turbulent year for T Alun Jones, it was also an exciting one, with the company celebrating their 60th year in the business.

Beth explained how the company started with Alan, originally a ‘farm boy’, delivering hay and straw to local farms. That then progressed to delivering potatoes before expanding to general haulage in the 1980s. Now, T Alun Jones covers everything from delivering timber to animal trailers.

When asked what significant differences the firm’s drivers have experienced since 1961, Beth commented: “I’ve heard so many stories! One of the biggest things is that there were obviously no phones. As soon as the drivers left the depot in the morning, there'd be no way to contact them till they got back later in the week – which just seems crazy.”

We started with small lorries that didn’t even have a bed in, and now they've got TVs, microwaves and coffee machines, so it's definitely changed for the better.”

 

Cause for celebration

Discussing what it means to be named hidden heroes, Beth commented: “It means a lot to be recognised because I know a lot of the time drivers haven’t been given the best recognition throughout the pandemic. So, it’s definitely helped to show how much they’re needed and valued.”

As part of the hidden hero nomination, T Alun Jones donated their reward of £400 to Lingen Davies, a cancer fund committed to supporting cancer services for the people of Shropshire, Telford and Mid Wales.

Beth added: “Alan had cancer a couple of years ago, and they were brilliant, so we would love it if we could donate the money to them. He really appreciates everything they’ve done for him.”

If you'd be interested in making a nomination for our next Hidden Hero award, please contact Heather Waters to find out more.


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