D J Wills Haulier

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from D J Wills Haulier is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


DJ Wills, based in Lanreath,
J Wills is a family haulage firm based in Cornwall. In
1972, the current director – David Wills – went into
partnership with his father, Ronald James Wills, and then
in the early 1980s he branched out on his own and established
the company DJ Wills Haulier. He started with two lorries and
worked for the local quarries, delivering aggregates to builders
and supplying hay, straw and feed to farmers, as well as
providing general haulage. This work was all based in Devon
and Cornwall. Over time, things have changed – something
David expands upon.
With the help of my wife, my two sons and my daughter-in-law, I have grown
the company, which currently has a fleet of 15 lorries. We employ 16 full-time
personnel and travel throughout the UK. Our main income is from supplying and
delivering hay and straw. Due to climate change and the reduced number of
farmers in Cornwall who grow this commodity, we can no longer source enough
hay and straw locally in the quantity that we require for our customers.
We decided in 2015 to expand the company to concentrate on the hay-and-straw
side of the business. We now have two depots where we can store the straw
we buy: one at Milton Keynes, and one at our yard in Cornwall. Our day-to-day
business is very much a family concern, as my eldest son, Michael, takes his three
balers to Milton Keynes and Enfield and bales the straw as it is being harvested
behind the combines.
»Director: David John Wills
»Established in 1980s
»Based in Lanreath, Cornwall
»Services: Supplier to the
agricultural industry
»No. of employees: 18
»Fleet of 15 vehicles and 12
DJ Wills Haulier
Highlighting best practice
Last year, we baled 7,000 acres
of straw in Milton Keynes and the
surrounding area. Michael also has a
lime spreader. Using our local tipper
lorries, he spreads many tonnes of sea
sand and lime on the fields, and the
local farmers use sea sand for bedding
in their cubicles for their cows to lie on.
My youngest son, Richard, organises
the straw purchasing, transportation
and other flat-lorry work. He also
organises the other articulated lorry
work, with three of our articulated
lorries transporting scrap metals
nationwide. We have our local tippers
doing general haulage and supplying
aggregates, sea sand and lime
throughout Devon and Cornwall.
Our biggest concern is employing
drivers. We have been advertising
for two years, and good drivers are
almost impossible to find. We used to
employ 18-year-olds who took part
in the Young Drivers’ Scheme. This
was an excellent scheme, and the five
youngsters that we put through it
all made exceptional drivers and are
still working in the industry today.
Now, you cannot employ 18-year-
olds, as the insurance premiums are
extremely high. We were quoted
£14,000 per youngster on top of our
regular premium, with an additional
excess of £3,500 if they were involved
in an accident. Obviously, as a small
family firm, we cannot afford these
extra costs, but the insurers’ reason is
“lack of experience”. Youngsters who
are keen to come into our industry
can pay around £4,000 to obtain
their licences and then be told that
they are unemployable because of
high insurance premiums and lack
We have wasted many hours waiting
for applicants to come for interviews.
The lack of good drivers is holding
our company back. Decent drivers
are the future of our company. It
would be beneficial if another scheme
like the Young Drivers’ Scheme
was introduced, as I feel it was so
successful back then and could be
again today.
Digital age
Another concern is lack of broadband,
Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage.
We live in an area of Cornwall where
coverage for all three is very poor,
which can lose us vital customers.
Since the closure of many banks in
the local area, it is extremely difficult
to pay in cheques. We try using the
mobile banking app, but it only works
occasionally due to lack of coverage.
We are also limited to cheques under
Three straw lorries in a
We now have
two depots
where we can
store the
straw we buy:
one at Milton
Keynes, and
one at our
yard in
a £500 threshold, as only these can be
paid in on the mobile app; anything
over this amount has to be paid in,
in person, at the nearest available
branch. Our drivers also waste time
trying to contact suppliers, customers
and the office while trying to find a
decent mobile phone signal. BT have
informed us that we cannot have fibre
optic broadband as we live too close
to a BT exchange. The only solution
to this problem, we have been told, is
to pay around £10,000 a year for our
own individual fibre optic line. This is
another cost that is far too high for us
to pay every year.
We are very proud of our Cornish
heritage, but our company is being
held back by the lack of investment
in communication, and we feel that
Cornwall is being left behind in this
digital age. The poor communication in
respect of all digital devices – whether
in the office or for the drivers who are
out on the road every day – is proving
to be very frustrating.
Regulatory challenges
Since we have been travelling
throughout the UK, we have noticed
the regulatory rules not being consistent
and uniform across the country. There
is an inconsistency in the way the law
is interpreted. Lorries are classified as
passing the standard in one area but
having an advisory in another, or they
might be issued with a prohibition in
a different area. Other hauliers must
come across the same inconsistencies.
We strive to keep within the law and
to keep our vehicles roadworthy and
safe, and our drivers are continually
assessed. The capital investment in
an articulated lorry or a flat lorry
with a drag trailer is well in excess of
£100,000. This is a lot to find with the
margins being continuallyeroded.
I would like to carry the company
forward for the future generations,
as I feel the hay and straw industry
is a more specialist job and needs
special training. My grandchildren are
being brought up within the farming
community and will understand the
daily struggles that people in Cornwall
face; they will also be able to continue
the culture and value of D J Wills,
offering a professional, safe service at
a reasonable cost for our customers.
Our company is
being held back
by the lack of
investment in
and we feel that
Cornwall is
being left
behind in this
digital age
The “wedding lorry”
for David’s son and


This article was sponsored by D J Wills Haulier. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.