Alex Longman is a man with a real fiery passion for tanker driving, Fuel Oil News deputy editor, Liz Boardman went to Dragon Petroleum to meet him
Driving professionally since he was twenty-one, and having worked for a variety of companies including a fruit & vegetable merchant, a timber specialist and a scrap yard, Alex was eager to better himself.
Already a regular Dragon Petroleum customer, Alex sold his beloved motorbike to pay for his ADR training. Once qualified, he worked on a voluntary basis for Dragon Petroleum until a full time paid job came up four years ago.
Although owned by NWF Fuels, the company’s Bangor depot still operates under the Dragon Petroleum brand; NWF did change the name but sales dropped dramatically, only picking up again when it reverted back to Dragon.
A typical day in God’s own country
Alex’s enthusiasm and commitment to his role means his day normally starts around 7am and finishes when the job is done – but making sure I stick to all necessary driving requirements. “If I’m not on time for a job, I see it as a fail.”
Work is assigned by office administrator, Sue Souness and after opening his truck, starting the engine and doing a walk around check, the truck is loaded up and Alex starts the day’s deliveries.
No two days are the same – the company services a variety of industries and businesses. “I could be delivering to farms, garages and domestic properties one day and commercial properties the next,” said Alex. On an average day Alex delivers approximately 17,500 – 30,000 litres and between two and twenty drops.
Located in the heart of the Llyn Peninsula – described by Alex as God’s own country – the business is heavily seasonal with domestic deliveries dominating the winter months and farmers over the summer. “It’s important to make hay whilst the sun shines,” said Alex. “It used to be much quieter over summer but now things have picked up in the commercial and agricultural industries, it’s much steadier all year round.”
The oil man
Over the years Alex has built a good rapport with regular clients. “We get a lot of repeat business – I pride myself on giving our customers a good service and being their oil man, “he explained. “In days gone by people used to leave money out for the coal man – there was a huge amount of trust – I see myself as the modern day equivalent.”
Taking it a step further Alex often delivers to a small buying group in the local area, whilst there he drops in on one of his regular customers, an old lady who lives alone. “Often she sees only me and the postman so I make sure that when I’m in the area, I call in for a cup of tea.”
Alex takes an enormous amount of pride in his job and his vehicle. “I keep my truck clean off my own back,“ he explained. “I’m mechanically sympathetic and hugely proud of my vehicle – a four-year old Volvo FE six wheeler with rear steer. Named Olivia after his 18-month old granddaughter, Alex asked permission to have her name painted on his vehicle and paid for this out of his own pocket. “I take good care of her, wash her once a week and polish her daily.”
His TLC has certainly paid off as the Bangor depot boasts the lowest maintenance costs across the entire company.
Fully up to date on his training, Alex has recently completed both his Driver CPC and Petroleum Driver Passport. “Tanker drivers are the best of the best,” he said. “The amount of legislation and training required in Britain means that we’re quite simply the best in the world. It’s a difficult job but I love the challenge and relish the responsibility.”
A reward for a job well done
In April, Alex took the title of FPS driver of the year.
“I didn’t even know that my manager, Tracey Drury, had nominated me until I was down to the last ten. When my name was called out at the FPS awards dinner I was gobsmacked and very choked.
“I work with a great and very happy team – I love working with them! I’d like to thank Tracey for the nomination and special thanks go to my wife Annie for supporting me through everything and enabling me to start out on this path.”
To celebrate Alex’s win the Bangor team threw a party, decorating his truck with banners and NWF managing director, Kevin Kennerley made a special visit to present him with a £250 voucher for a track day. “I was incredibly touched that Kevin had taken the time to find out what I liked and had paid for the gift out of his own pocket.”
“As a tanker driver I’m proud to be representing the company and I want people to think that I’m driving well. Although the hours can be long and the role requires a lot of concentration, I love my job. The benefits – building relationships and the kudos of the being the public face of the company – more than outweigh the negatives.”