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“I’m sat looking at an old Commercial Motor cover from 2010”, says Elddis Transport MD Nigel Cook. “There’s a big picture of an Elddis truck on it with the words ‘collaboration is key to success’. Nothing has changed.”

Collaboration, Cook firmly believes, is “imperative” to surviving in the haulage industry; a belief he said was behind the decision to get behind the wheel of a new transport consortium called the High Cube Network.

The network, which is a collaboration between eight hauliers who specialise in high-cube trailer transportation, was launched earlier this year and will operate much like a pallet network, but transporting large, light products which would see operators cubing out before they weighed out using regular trailers.

Members comprise Archbold Logistics; Collaborative Supply Chains; H Parkinson Haulage; Owens Road Services, S&R Smith & Son; Elddis; Woodside Haulage and Van der Wal.

Nigel Cook Elddis transport Consett Ltd

Elddis Transport MD and High Cube Network chairman Nigel Cook

In July, Cook revealed that he had been appointed chairman of the business. This, he says, is in no way a reflection of a hierarchy within the consortium, which was borne out of a mutual client its members held.

“We’re all equal shareholders. Everybody owns exactly the same amount of the business,” he tells Motortransport.co.uk. “We’ve all put exactly the same amount in to get the business to where it is, to get it set up. But the constitution of the business requires a chairman, so we decided the role will be shared out. I must have spoken up at the wrong time so I’m going first!”

Joking aside, he adds that it’s “an honour to be a part of it”.

The company was initially founded with Cook and Mick Wilson, a former TDG and Norbert Dentressangle man, listed as its directors. Now, however, the list of directors has expanded to include Mark Woodside, Peter Surtees, Lee Smith, Henk Van Der Wal, Chris Parkinson, Alan Maher and Eurof Owen – senior figures from the network’s other member hauliers.

It is still early days for the High Cube Network, which is yet to take on its first contract.

Cook says: “We’ve just got through the final stages of getting the business set up, and it’s a very exciting process. The groundwork’s done, the infrastructure and the IT systems are in place, so now it’s just a case of finding the right bit of business to suit us.”

However Cook adds he’s in no hurry for the consortium to sign up its first client. For him, he says, it’s all about taking the time to make sure the fit is right.

“We’ve got no aspirations of taking the world on overnight. It’s going to be a very managed, controlled business. Any business we take on, we will make sure we can offer the service that the customers have come to expect.

“Elddis has grown up with the same principle – we will not take on business unless we know that we can do it 100% right. It’s about making sure whatever we take on will help us build the reputation of the High Cube Network and its members.”

Cook says the network’s member hauliers are already working more closely on their existing contracts, and in some cases even sharing the work. But he says the network would be open to expanding its membership if the right haulier came along.

“If there are any gaps in our coverage – and it’s a big country so it could happen – then we will look for partner hauliers to cover those areas. It’s very customer specific, so it varies, but it’s mainly the extremities of the country. So we’re not adverse to working with and involving other people.”

While finding the right business for the network is Cook’s next goal, he is also keen to drive the brand into the public eye. “Often with new business, you’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time. At the moment it’s about getting the name out and making people aware of us,” he explains.

Elddis has taken delivery of a new Mercedes-Benz Actros in High Cube Network livery, which joins two branded trailers already in the fleet, that are used for Elddis’s own high cube work. Other members, too, are putting vehicles in the striking livery out on the road.

“We’re getting a presence on the road, putting a few tractors and trailers out where people can see them. And those trailers will be going into our customers’ delivery points so they’re hearing about it too.”

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Mick Wilson, one of the network’s directors, is currently responsible for its day-to-day running. The business is yet to move into its own office, but Cook explains that the set up gives it added flexibility when it comes to such resources.

“We don’t have a traffic planning office at the moment, but if you think about it another way we actually have a dozen of them. So depending on what business comes our way, whoever’s most local to it will probably take that on.

“At some point in time it may need an office or a home, but that will be at the point in time at which it can afford to do so.”

And Cook is confident that the business can afford to make such predictions about its future, even at such an early stage. “Yes, it’s early days for us but we are in this for the long term,” he says. “This is a long-term investment for us.

“At the end of the day, we wouldn’t have gone into this if we weren’t expecting to get money out of it. But we’re not expecting to make our money back in the next two months, by any means. Hopefully we will be successful going forward.”

And that success, he reiterates, rides on the collaboration he says is key not only to the High Cube Network or Elddis Transport, but the whole industry.

“Collaboration in the industry is imperative. You’ve got to work together to be efficient and keep up the levels of service. It’s still a very tough industry to be in – margins are low, so you’ve got to work with people to operate as efficiently as you can.”