Welcome to the first edition of Motor Transport’s Power Players – the list of the 20 people who we believe have the most influence and exert the most control over the road transport industry.

This list is by no means objective, but we’ve debated the merits of those on the list. You will find operators, clients, industry stakeholders and a few off-the-wall choices. Some are there because they exerted power in 2012, while others appear because we expect them to have an influence in 2013.

What they all have in common is a direct influence (for good or ill) over the industry. Thus the prime minister and chancellor are not included. And neither are the fuel companies, OPEC, nor the commodity traders whose actions affect fuel prices – actions that are driven by self-interest rather than a desire or need to control road transport.

If you read MT’s sister title Commercial Motor, you’ll recognise Power Players as it first appeared in CM in December 2009. After three successful and occasionally controversial editions in CM, Power Players switches to MT.

Peter Carroll, the leader of FairFuelUK, topped last year’s list. Who makes this year’s? Read on for highlights of the full feature that will appear in the 14 January issue of Motor Transport.

20 Trevor Fletcher, MD, Hardstaff Group

trevor fletcher

Trevor Fletcher has driven his company’s involvement with dual-fuel (diesel/gas) engines for more than 12 years.

Although primarily a haulage contractor, Hardstaff’s belief in dual-fuel never wavered, despite the loss of its original technology partner, removal of government grants and the tough times when gas was regarded as a dead end.

Fletcher had the foresight to commit to the development of Hardstaff’s own sophisticated OIGI dual-fuel system, now backed by Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, and used by the likes of John Lewis Partnership and Warburtons.

19 James Wilson, chief executive, Palletways Group

James Wilson, Palletways

After two decades with TNT, Edinburgh-based James Wilson was ready for a new challenge. That came in the shape of Palletways, which he bought with backing from Phoenix Equity Partners in 2004.

Wilson had a clear vision for the then 10-year-old business: namely, to take a UK concern and expand it into the leading European pallet network.

But the UK remains the engine room and, despite eight rivals in the sector, Palletways’ total volumes are put at north of 20%, giving it and Wilson colossal influence.

18 David Hunt, vice-president and MD, Ryder Europe

David Hunt, Ryder

Ryder’s stats in spring 2012 say it all: 3,000 LCVs, 7,000 rigids, 3,000 tractor units and 10,000 trailers.

These numbers were fleshed out by Ryder’s £151m acquisition of

Hill Hire in summer 2011.

Less than four months after announcing that the integration of Hill Hire was nearly complete in March, David Hunt announced another acquisition: this time it was Euroway.

And so Ryder’s fleet increased by more than 1,000 vehicles to nearly 25,000.


17 Andy Downton, MD, CM Downton

Andy Downton of CM Downton

When Andy Downton and his brothers, John and Richard, picked up the 2012 MT Haulier of the Year trophy, it was almost as if the MD held up a beacon for family-owned hauliers everywhere.

CM Downton was 34th in the 2012 MT Top 100 with a turnover of £85m – the Gloucestershire operator proves the adage ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’.

With a pre-tax profit margin of 7% compared with the Top 100 average of less than 1%, CM Downton is proof that, with the right management, logistics firms don’t have to be debt-ridden zombies clinging on for an upturn that may never come.



16 Hilary Devey, chief executive/chairwoman, Pall-Ex

Hilary Devey

Bold as Brass: My Story is the formidable Hilary Devey’s latest literary work.

It is as apt as any description for the former Dragons’ Den star, who through hard graft built a team and one of the UK’s leading pallet networks from scratch in 1996.

Despite her emergence as a TV regular, Devey and her team have stuck to their guns, recovering from losing two founder members (Miniclipper and Panic Transport) last year by achieving the coup of recruiting C Butt into the network.




15 Malcolm Wilson, MD, logistics, Norbert Dentressangle

Commercial Motor magazine

Until November, Malcolm Wilson was merely MD of ND’s logistics division in the UK, and the combination of the role and the pedigree of the man would have been more than enough for him to make this list.

Now he is adding some British grit to the executive board at the French giant – which derives 28% of its €3.57bn global turnover from the UK.

We wait to see what he does at a global level this year.



14 Eric Born, chief executive, Wincanton


Eric Born, Wincanton chief executive

Eric Born has the unenviable task of turning around the largest remaining UK-owned logistics player.

If the Swiss can’t get the wounded giant back on its feet, it’s sure to follow TDG, Salvesen and Exel Logistics into foreign ownership.

Does it matter whether Wincanton is taken over? For the pride of British logistics that once led the world, it does.





13 Andrew Tinkler, chief executive officer, Stobart Group

Andrew Tinkler, Stobart Group

Stobart buying Autologic?

We did a double-take too. A real surprise is rare in this industry, but in August the deal went through and Tinkler proved he still had the capacity to shake up the industry.

Not only was Autologic a bargain at £12m, it added about £144.7m of turnover and £2.1m of pre-tax profit (from a market Stobart had no footprint in).

It needed the boost because 2012 wasn’t the best of years for the haulier.


12 and 11 Theo De Pencier, chief executive, Freight Transport Association, and Geoff Dunning, chief executive, Road Haulage Association

Theo dePencier, FTA

Last year was one of education and campaigning for the industry’s two leading associations.

A key highlight for Theo de Pencier (pictured left) and Geoff Dunning (right) was their commitment to the FairFuelUK campaign: Peter Carroll and his team are key elements in its success but it’s hard to see how they could have achieved what they have without de Pencier and Dunning’s support and that of their members.

Both associations appear in rude health and ready for what will no doubt be choppy waters this year. Dunning was highly visible in 2012 and we suspect that won’t change this year – and that’s why we’ve put him ahead of de Pencier, well known for his understated approach (he puts a lot of his senior team front and centre while he remains in the background).

  • For the final 10 Power Players see the 21 January issue of Motor Transport.