SAAN FBN bucks the trend with premium used trucks
Imagine the following. You're a Dutch/Romanian company, business is going smoothly and you’re successful at what you do – international transport for the events and entertainment industry. Your firm is growing, but you’re still a small player in an industry dominated by English transport firms. Then Covid-19 comes along and everything grinds to a halt. Pop stars are no longer going on world tours, trucks are standing idle, no one knows how long it’s all
going to last and everything is uncertain.
A good moment to reflect on the future and whether you should even keep going, perhaps. What next? Saan Trucking, a firm based in the Dutch city of Diemen, chose to buck the trend. Not only did it decide to keep going, but it also decided to keep growing. Because whatever happens, the pandemic will eventually be over and demand for transport will increase again, even in the entertainment industry. Ironically enough, Brexit even helped the company to achieve its goals.
Rogier Lecluse, Managing Director of Saan FBN, is sitting at a long table in the brand new and extremely tastefully decorated offices of parent company, Koninklijke Saan. The company, a leader in special transport and industrial relocations in the Netherlands, only moved here a week ago and everything is still a little upside down. However, this is quickly forgotten once Lecluse starts talking about the historyof the Saan FBN subsidiary.
“One of the consequences of Brexit is that trucks with British number plates are only allowed to load and unload in the EU three times before they have to return to the United Kingdom,” he begins. “It’s a major handicap for British haulage firms in the events business. If you're a band or a pop star and are performing in twenty cities around the EU, there’s no way you can efficiently transport everything under these rules.”
British firm Fly by Nite (The FBN in Saan FBN) was one of the companies that had to deal with the new legislation. “We worked together in the past, so we were familiar with each other,” says Lecluse. “After the pandemic, the British Fly by Nite fleet was barely able to work in the EU, while demand for transport in the events industry was only on the up. That’s why Fly by Nite registered 90 of its 180 trucks with Irish number plates, but it only solved part of the problem. This prompted us to enter into a joint venture: Saan FBN. It was a win-win situation for both of us. We were able to expand and Fly by Nite was able to continue operating within the EU.”
Managing Director Saan FBN
“In our industry everything revolves around one thing: Reliability, Reliability, Reliability,”
The negotiations for the joint venture took place during the darkest days of the pandemic. “Those were strange times,” recalls Lecluse. “We were busy making future plans for an industry that was on its back and was actually prohibited by law at the time. One thing we knew for sure, though, was that when the pandemic was over had to be ready to hit the ground running.”
However, this proved to be quite a challenge. After all, how do you get hold of 30 or so extra tractor units in the space of a few months (on top of the 20 the company already had), particularly given the lengthy delivery times that the entire truck industry was facing? The answer came from Truckland, Saan’s local dealer. Why buy new trucks when nearly new trucks may be just as good and were available almost immediately?
The trucks had to be DAF XFs with a Super Space Cab, as the crews spend long periods on the road, comfort is essential. They couldn't be any older than 2018 models, either, had to look good, shouldn't have more than 350,000 kilometres on the clock and had to be white.
Lecluse: “We wanted them to be literally as good as new and we also had a few extra requirements.” That’s why all the trucks were given a ‘refresh’ and were fitted with new tyres, new beds, a heavy duty battery, a stand-alone air conditioner, a charging connector, a track & trace system and a camera system. They looked great, but they were still white. Not exactly the most exciting colour, is it? “That’s true,” admits Lecluse. “But we chose this colour on purpose. As you can imagine, appearance is extremely important in our industry and white is a good base colour for putting something more eye-catching on top, which we managed to do and the trucks look fantastic now.”
Saan FBN’s units have since been criss-crossing Europe and are literally the backbone for successful performances by bands, orchestras and pop stars. “In our industry, everything revolves around one thing,” explains Lecluse. “Reliability, reliability, reliability. If we fail, the artists who we drive for will fail too. And we’ll let down thousands or even tens of thousands of fans as well. If you want to be a reliable partner, you need to have reliable tools. These trucks will keep going for years. It's a terrific achievement that we managed to do all this together. These nearly new XFs were the perfect choice for us and, incidentally, for the crew, too. Of course, there was some uncertainty and risk, but we were confident