Willenhall-based A. E. Costin celebrates half a century in business with an impressive gold-liveried Scania Topline

Even though the world price for gold may be falling, its value as a celebratory material is just as high as it ever was. For proof, look no further than the immaculate 360hp Scania Topline twinsteer flagship recently put into service by well-known West Midlands transport operator, A. E. Costin (Haulage) Limited. This year is the company’s Golden Jubilee and the firm has decided to celebrate in style!

For a man whose professional roots are steeped in haulage and whose personal interests lie very much in the field of historic commercial vehicles, A. E. Costin’s Managing Director, Wyn Hooper, comes across very much as someone keeping one eye on the future as well as one on the past:

“Our next half century is certainly going to be very different from the first,” he says with a smile. “One thing I can say for sure is that we will have to keep moving with the times. For us, that’s going to mean embracing change, watching new technology and incorporating the positive aspects that brings into our business operations – all of which we must do while continuing to deliver our customers the quality of service they expect of us. We gained accreditation to ISO9002 in 1994, so another task has to be maintaining and further developing the standards we have set for ourselves.”

If the advances made by the company over its first 50 years are anything to go by, the coming half century should be well worth watching. A. E. Costin was formed after the Second World War in 1949 by owner/driver Ernie Costin, father of the present day Chairman, Tony. Always based in Willenhall, growth was controlled in the early years – by the 1970’s the fleet strength was just four vehicles. However, the company’s reputation for good service and timely deliveries was well established, attributes that served it well when the time to expand came.

“It was in the late ’70s and the early ’80s that the firm really began to grow,” says Wyn. “There were soon more than a dozen vehicles in the fleet at which point we relocated to our present site complete with its large yard, workshops and extensive warehousing. This encouraged further expansion and at one time there were 65 trucks running in Costin colours. Today, our fleet strength is 50, which I would say is our optimum size.”

The fleet comprises both artics and rigids and a mix of trailers and bodywork – curtainsiders, boxvans, extendable lowloaders and flats with cranes are all employed over a range of applications. “We concentrate on what we’re good at,” explains Steve Roberts, the company’s Operations Director. “Which is essentially groupage work backed by a variety of specialist transport tasks, such as moving modular buildings.”

One innovation from Costin concerns its groupage work and the double-deck trailers designed by the company to increase its carrying capacity. “In common with many others,” says Wyn, “we have a tendency to bulk-out rather than weigh-out.

“I remember seeing one particular load where we had doubled the pallets up to get as much on board as possible and thinking why not have another deck half way up the trailer to use as a second floor?

“So we constructed a prototype and went on to perfect the idea by making either part or all of it removable. Our double-deck trailers are ideal for groupage work and offer the benefit of greater efficiency with an environmental bonus as they allow us to run less vehicles, which has to be a good thing all round.”

A. E. Costin currently operates 20 Scania trucks, both tractor units and rigids and, although it has its own workshops, the company chooses to take its vehicles complete with a five year repair and maintenance package from Keltruck. “The two year R&M that comes with the vehicles as standard opened our eyes,” says Steve. “It is extremely convenient, trucks are collected and delivered when they are due a service, and it removes the problem from our point of view.”

“It leaves us free to concentrate on our business,” adds Wyn, “which is all about solving other people’s problems. For example, if a customer calls us at short notice with a couple of bags to go to, say, Leeds, we’re there just the same as if he had a whole truck load to go to Land’s End. The first half century has taught us that to be able to provide a top-class service what we need more than anything else is transport availability – which is precisely what the package from Keltruck offers us.”

Keltruck congratulates A. E. Costin on its Golden Jubilee – and here’s looking forward to the next 50 years!

Left to right: A. E. Costin’s Managing Director Wyn Hooper, Chairman Tony Costin and Operations Director Steve Roberts.

The Golden Jubilee Scania has a dedicated trailer and driver. The trailer’s livery matches that of the truck and driver Tony Bickley makes every effort to keep the rig looking the way it was the day it was delivered. “As well as being our anniversary vehicle, it’s also our first Topline,” he says. “I spend up to three nights a week out – it’s a brilliant truck to live in!”

Before (above) and after (below): A. E. Costin developed its own double-deck trailers to enable it to carry more goods more efficiently on its groupage operations.

Andrew Bentley, MInst SMM
Head of Vehicle Contracts and Marketing