Entering into the world of truck operation is no mean task. Especially when the company bosses have not run any HGV transport before.  In fact, only eighteen months earlier, the bosses of Forge Logistics had never run a van operation – in civvy street that is.

Ex-servicemen Jamie Keen and James Rose-Shaw have recruited their first truck, a striking Mercedes-Benz tractor unit, and look forward to putting nine more into action.

Jamie Keen and James Rose-Shaw launched their business after serving together in the Army Air Corps, providing ground support services for Apache attack helicopters. Both completed multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan, and on board the Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean.

They left the forces determined to put their experience, determination and ‘can-do’ attitudes to good use in civilian life. Forge Logistics began working for one of the home shopping sector’s leading names with five Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans. Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and the company is running a fleet of 40 Sprinters. The new tractor unit, meanwhile, will be followed shortly by another nine Actros, which are currently on order.

Mercedes Actros - Forge Logistics
Forge Logistics partners Jamie Keen (left) and James Rose-Shaw with their first Mercedes-Benz Actros

The First Actros Truck

The Actros 2548 BigSpace tractor unit was supplied by local Dealer Ciceley Commercials and is powered by Mercedes’ 12.8-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine that generates 476 hp. Its flat-floored cab, meanwhile, has the TrendLine interior with leather trim, as well as the optional twin-screen Multimedia Cockpit, interactive, which comes with a larger 12in instrument panel and extra functionality.

The subject of a Mercedes-Benz Finance contract hire agreement, the vehicle will be inspected and maintained in the 24-hour workshop at Ciceley Commercials’ Blackburn dealership, just off junction 4 of the M65.

The Fledgling Business

All the trucks and vans will be working full-time for Forge’s sole customer. The vans make local deliveries while the truck transports consignments from a sorting centre near Haydock to distribution depots across the North of England.

James Rose-Shaw tells us:

“We chose Sprinters originally because of the very favourable terms available through our customer’s arrangement with Mercedes-Benz. They have been great workhorses, while we were also impressed from the outset by the care and attention we received from Ciceley Commercials.

He continues: “The Dealer showed a genuine interest in understanding and supporting our business, and its flexibility in arranging services to fit in with our shift patterns has been a great help to our time-critical work.”

Jamie Keen added:

Truck Sales Executive Matt Riley and his colleagues were very helpful when we decided to take the plunge and apply for our Operator’s Licence. Having also attended the Dealer’s open day and seen the fantastic new Actros close up, there was never any doubt that our first truck would be a Mercedes-Benz. We’re still on the phone to Matt most days, with questions about all sorts of things – he’s become a firm friend and we consider him to be an integral part of our success.

“Our first 18 months in business have been something of a whirlwind,” recalled James Rose-Shaw. “We were already working long hours to get things up and running when Covid-19 hit. While many sectors saw an immediate slow-down, home shopping really took off – Jamie and I have been flat-out seven days a week, for up to 18 hours a day, to cope with the soaring demand.

“Ciceley Commercials have been fantastic throughout, despite having to contend with the social distancing and other implications of the pandemic. Now we can’t wait to get our next nine Actros units out on the road.”