Keltruck customer M. C. Whitehouse has been featured in the new edition of Scene Scania magazine.
Are you passionate? Owner-driver Mark Whitehouse certainly is
“I always wanted to own my own truck. From the age of five, instead of writing the names of football clubs on my schoolbooks, I used to write ‘Scania’!” Welcome to the world of Mark Whitehouse, a Worcester-based owner-operator who has built up a successful business primarily serving the steel industry.
Mark’s quote is taken from a customer service video produced by Scania recently. As a one-man transport operation who depends upon his truck and the back-up behind it for his living, Mark Whitehouse was there to explain the challenges faced by owner-drivers in the transport industry today. And while he described that most eloquently, what also came ringing through in that interview is that Mark is a man of passion, especially when it comes the brand of vehicle that he drives.
Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a strong and barely controllable emotion, if you have a teenage son or daughter, you’ll know all about passion and brands. It’s that must-have-and-nothing-else-will-do thing.
Brands, in fact, are remarkably powerful things, which is why major corporations spend a great deal of time, money and effort in building their’s up. The primary function of any brand is to create desire, something the finest examples elevate to irrational levels. Take Ferrari, for instance. Plenty of people say they would love one, really love one. But analyse what these same folk actually use their car for – travelling to work, taking the children to school, popping down the shops or up the Tidy Tip – and you have to ask would the prancing horse badge really be the right choice for them? But that’s besides the point – the brand and what it stands for have most certainly done their job in terms of desire-creation.
As Mark Whitehouse unashamedly admits, he was bitten by the Scania brand bug at a very early age. “And it’s stayed with me ever since,” he says. “My truck is my pride and joy. I’ve been an owner-driver for 17 years now and I decided very early on that only the best would do for me. So in 1992, which was as soon as I could afford it, my first new truck became a Topline Streamline 450hp R143. Not only that, it had bull bars, chequer plate and spotlights too, the lot. And it won Best Owner-Driver Truck at Truckfest that year – I was made up, I was the man, I was well chuffed!”
As for many owner-drivers, image plays an important part in Mark’s business. He’s quick to point out that his customers appreciate a vehicle that’s well turned-out because at the other end of the journey he is delivering to their customers. But, as for any passionate operator, that’s only part of the story:
“I now own a Topline-cabbed R 164 with all the extras – leather seats, walnut dash, everything,” says Mark. “And I love it. First and foremost, it’s a reliable business tool, that’s proven beyond doubt. But to me it’s also my place of work, my office, my home while I’m away. So I want it to be right. There’s also the matter of resale value to bear in mind. To me, my truck is my key asset – as an owner-driver I don’t have land or property – and I know the money I’ve spent on it will not be wasted when I eventually sell it on.”