Our founder Roy Crabtree

It’s easy to think that today’s challenges in the transport industry - such as rising fuel costs, greater legislation and environmental concerns - mean that haulage is a much harder industry to work in than it was forty years ago.

But back in the 1970’s, coal mining, metal bashing and car building were all big employers in the UK and these industries were fast moving to Eastern Europe or Asia. Road haulage was also nationalised by the post-war Labour Government. The resulting National Freight Corporation had a virtual monopoly until the 1980s, when it was privatised by the Thatcher Government.

The uncertainty and striking of the 70’s and 80’s, combined with a number of national downturns and recessions, meant that business was volatile and the risk was far greater than it was in the 50’s and 60’s.

When a young Roy Crabtree inherited a single vehicle, his aptitude was more along the lines of accountancy. He was sharp and understood a balance sheet, but not necessarily the requirements of running a transport operation. When he returned from war and his mother needed help, it seemed natural that he’d learn and he set about it in earnest. His approach to business was rather like accounting, methodical cost-conscious, quite aware of the vulnerabilities in a small business.

That wasn’t to say he didn’t become an astute businessman. Roy knew where and when to take opportunities, he knew how to navigate challenges and he understood how to minimise costs. But he always did this to build fantastic relationships, to nurture his growing customer base, to gain the respect of his workforce and to build flourishing partnerships.

Over 40 hard-working years, together with his wife Mary, Roy invested everything he earned back into the business. They waived the luxuries of life, purely to fund the next vehicle. Roy grew the business from one vehicle to an immense fleet of 50 vehicles and he rightfully earned the respect of his peers in the Derbyshire area. In true Roy fashion, his intention was purely to work for the good of others and with a quiet self-sense of achievement, he provided for his much loved family.

Roy wasn’t just in business to make a living. He knew that he was giving something back to the local community by being a main employer in New Mills. A very generous man, he was a great believer in sport, investing time and energy in New Mills AFC and the Derbyshire FA and giving back what he could to the community. The company to this day sponsors a number of events in the area.

H. Crabtree Ltd. has grown to what it is now, a solid authority in the North West of England, fit and healthy for the challenges of a modern society. When Roy died in 1993, he had only just begun the expansion into the South West. Following Roy’s work ethics, the company continues to grow steadily and there are now 15 vehicles based out of Calne, in Wiltshire. When Roy navigated the deep recessions and challenges of the 70’s and 80’s it gave the company of today the wisdom to succeed, to modernise, and to move forward.

The Directors and senior management team of today live and breathe Roy’s values. Through Roy’s work, H. Crabtree Ltd. is a healthy company, able to take on the next stage of expansion, through the 21st century.