North East Truck & Van

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by North East Truck & Van's best practice article

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 North East Truck & Van is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Chairman and Managing
Director Sandy McDonald and
Finance Director John McDonald
North East Truck & Van’s
dealership in Blaydon-on-
North East Truck & Van was founded in March 1969
as a small independent truck-servicing workshop in
Sunderland. Fifty years on, following relocation, growth
and periods of significant change, it is one of the largest
independent commercial vehicle dealer groups in the UK. It
operates seven sites across the North and North East of England,
ranging from Blaydon in the North, down the east coast to
Lincoln and across west to Carlisle, and holds franchises for
Iveco, MAN, Fiat Professional and LDV. Finance Director John
McDonald elaborates on his team’s work and discusses how the
company has diversified.
In 1973, we were appointed as one of the first DAF Truck franchisees in the
country, and in 1975 our current headquarters in Billingham, County Durham,
became the first dedicated DAF Truck dealership in the UK. Further changes
continued to come along, and 1987 saw the merger of Leyland and DAF. At that
time, we were granted the newly combined Leyland DAF franchise for both our
Billingham and Blaydon sites, the latter of which had opened the previous year.
Customer service and quality are the cornerstones on which our company was
founded, and our dedication and focus on continuous improvement are one of
the main reasons for our success. March 1990 saw us achieve BS 5750/ISO 9002
accreditation, the first motor dealer in the UK to do so, and only the second in
Europe to meet the quality standard. Later that same year, we were acclaimed
Motor Transport
magazine’s Dealer of the Year, an honour we received again in
2005 – making us the only dealer to have ever been awarded the accolade twice.
»Chairman and Managing
Director: Sandy McDonald
»Finance Director:
»Founded in 1969
»Based in Billingham,
County Durham, with seven
dealerships in total across the
North and North East
»Services: Sales, servicing,
maintenance, repair,
engineering and supply of
spare parts for commercial
»No. of employees: Currently
North East Truck & Van
Highlighting best practice
A seismic shift
February 1993 saw the unfortunate
collapse of Leyland DAF, and there
followed a period of rapid and
fundamental change for the company
as we sought to secure our future and
that of our then-230 employees.
To that end, in April 1993, we secured
the Iveco Ford Truck franchise, now
just known as Iveco, for the North
East. This move presented a major
challenge as we adapted to a new
product range, processes and partners,
but despite the change in marque,
our history of providing high levels
of customer satisfaction meant our
customers remained loyal and the sales
successes achieved under Leyland DAF
continued with Iveco.
Since adopting the Iveco brand, we
have gone from strength to strength.
We have rapidly expanded to a total
of seven sites and now cover an
area of over 10,000 square miles
and continue to deliver a quality,
reliable and market-leading service to
We believe in adding value to our
customers’ business operations, and
as such, over the past 50 years, we
have evolved the range of products
and services we offer them. This
process of diversification has enabled
us to grow while bringing more of the
variables involved in the vehicle life
cycle under our control, enabling us to
become a comprehensive solution for
Sustainable transport
The significant pressure on the motor
industry as a whole in relation to
carbon emissions, clean air zones
and a reduction in the use of diesel
fuel has been well reported. The
challenge for us as a dealer – restricted
in some senses by the products our
manufacturers develop – is to adapt
to these changes and see them as an
opportunity, rather than a threat.
There is, and will continue to be for
some considerable time, an argument
as to what the alternative, sustainable
fuel for the HGV sector should be –
some believe in natural gas and others
electricity – and it is an argument
that is dividing the manufacturers in
Iveco have been working towards
building a viable natural gas-powered
vehicle for over 20 years and have
successfully brought a full line-up
of natural gas-powered vehicles to
market – ranging from 3.5-tonne vans
to 44-tonne trucks. These vehicles emit
significantly fewer pollutants than their
One of North East Truck
& Van’s technicians
running diagnostic tests
with state-of-the-art
service and
quality are the
on which our
company was
»Accredited in March 1990
with BS 5750/ISO 9002. First
motor dealer in the UK to
achieve such an accreditation,
and the second in Europe
»NETV is the only two-time
winner of the Motor Transport
Dealer of the Year Award
1990 and 2005 respectively
»Celebrated 50 years in
business in March 2019
diesel counterparts and, with an ever-
growing network of refuelling stations
in the UK, are proving to be a viable
alternative to diesel fuel for operators.
Filling the skills gap
The service and repair of heavy
commercial vehicles is one of the areas
of greatest strength and reputation
for our business. This is a reflection
of the dedication and commitment
of our skilled, experienced and well-
trained team. We currently employ
75 technicians across our seven sites,
including two apprentices, and invest
roughly £250,000 annually in training
and development to ensure that our
team are kept up to date and equipped
with the knowledge they need to excel
in their role.
With each passing year, however,
our ability to recruit additional or
replacement technicians for our
workshops diminishes, not because
people do not want to work for us
in particular, but rather thanks to a
pervasive skills shortage. Simply put,
there are very few new individuals and
school leavers entering the industry.
Some suggest that this is because ours
is no longer an attractive industry to
work in. Arguably, in a time where
you have the ability to earn significant
sums of money through working in a
comfortable office with a computer,
the prospect of crawling under a truck
on an evening isn’t at first glance an
enticing one. Despite this perception,
however, ours is a varied, interesting
and rewarding industry to be
involved in. Additionally, the previous
government’s emphasis on pushing
school leavers through university as
opposed to vocational qualifications
has likely had a significant impact.
Attracting young people to
the industry
Historically, apprenticeships have been
the main route for youngsters entering
the industry, but in recent years the
number of apprentices has significantly
dwindled. The apprenticeship
levy serves as a way to promote
placements, but in an industry like
ours where apprenticeships are
commonplace it is largely irrelevant as
an incentive.
Moreover, the issue in our industry
is largely not that the apprenticeship
placements aren’t out there, but more
that there are not enough applicants
to fill them.
Without sufficient careers advice in
schools to educate school leavers as
to the varied opportunities out there,
and the many benefits of taking up an
apprenticeship in an industry like ours,
then we will not improve application
rates, and this is ultimately where the
challenge lies.
Both ourselves and the manufacturers
with whom we partner are looking
closely at how we can make our
apprenticeships more enticing through
incentive schemes and effective
marketing. If the same message is not
being promoted in schools, however,
then this will continue to be a difficult
obstacle to overcome.
Simply put,
there are very
few new
individuals and
school leavers
entering the
Iveco Stralis NP, Iveco’s
natural gas powered
tractor unit

This article was sponsored by North East Truck & Van. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster