J.A. Coles Today
Title:Dan, Dan, The Removals Man
Dan, Dan, The Removals MAN
Small is beautiful, and the mixed fleet - including a brace of ex-Stobart, S-reg MANs - of removals firm J A Coles is prettier than most. Dave Young slopes off to Stoke Newington to meet first Dan, second Dan and the rest of the Jeakins family
Small hauliers, once the backbone of British road transport, are a dying breed, inexorably replaced by the rapacious rise of multinational 'logistics providers'. Family firms are in even shorter supply, so T&D was delighted to find one still flourishing close to where it started 40 years ago.The antecedents of J A Coles Ltd go back even further than 1964, over a century in fact, but while tradition remains important this company isn't stuck in the past.The Coles fleet, like its working methods, is a careful mixture of the old and new. In addition to two ex-Eddie Stobart MANs and several secondhand Ivecos (the oldest on a J plate), the firm also operates two modern Actros Mercs.
FOUNDED IN 1964
The company was founded by Dan Jeakins with a single wagon in 1964 - although his grand-father was a carter in Hoxton in the 1890s - and has traded under the names of Jeakins, Coles and Pope, reflecting the smaller firms acquired in the early days for their valuable operator's licences. The fleet is characterised by a very high standard of presentation; witness the distinctive and unique livery of burgundy and red cabs, black chassis and Pompadour Blue van bodies. Most of the work in the late '60s, '70s and '80s was in transporting finished product for the rapidly fading furniture industry based on the nearby River Lea, with a small sideline in removals. Today only the livery remains unchanged.
PRIDE IN THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS
In the intervening years Dan senior decided to take a back seat and is semi-retired, although his pride in the firm and his boys is obvious. Steve and Kirk are also directors of the family business but prefer to stay 'hands on' by driving (with an MAN apiece), purchasing and maintaining the wagons.The younger Dan's philosophy in shaping and building Jeakins to survive the new millennium might serve as an object lesson to managers of many bigger companies. As the local furniture-building business declined or moved out of the Smoke, he recognised the need to diversify and change the fleet to accommodate new work.The original Listria Park site was developed for housing in Stoke Newington's booming property market but the firm retains an office nearby and a warehouse just up the road in Tottenham, from which they provide removals, packing and large crate storage to the middle-class populations of Stoke Newington, Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Finchley and Hampstead. Carefully targeted advertising, a website and plenty of repeat business stemming from personal recommendation have built up a healthy turnover, served primarily by the 7.5-tonners.Why such small trucks? Because the streets of north London are narrow, clogged and with appalling access. This is one occasion when conventional wisdom is turned on its head and it's sometimes better to use two small trucks than one large one. This is also where the family's sharp minds and years of experience really pay off. The firm is busy, turnover having consistently increased in each of the last 12 years.