18) James Wilson, CEO, 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 – this year it launched services in Czech Republic and Slovakia making Palletways present in 13 countries.

In the UK, Wilson has welcomed back Julian Maturi the man he effectively bought the business from in 2004 to provide support within the UK. The UK remains the engine room of the Palletways Group business where it remains in terms of volume the market leader by some considerable margin.

Like all transport businesses this year was another tough one, and the network lost some members to administration as did others – it is currently supporting Specialised Pallet Transport through its restructuring phase – but there were new initiatives a plenty, such as the launch of the Platinum Club scheme for top performing members,  and  news that it’s network of owned sites had received TfL’s Fors accreditation (as well as sealing a number of contract wins during the year).

The question perhaps now is what Wilson and backers Phoenix will do next, as an exit or some sort – be that trade sale, flotation, or MBO– is, according to Wilson talking to MT in 2012, likely to happen with the next four years.