Keeping it real

In October 2023, International Truck Stop7 MinutesBy Will ShiersNovember 10, 2023

I can tell my readers how great the British trucking industry is until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t make a blind bit of difference. School teachers won’t suddenly start informing their pupils about the amazing variety of jobs in road haulage, and kids won’t deviate from their chosen career paths. Quite simply, readers already know all that, so I’m preaching to the converted. What we need to attract fresh blood into road haulage is more people like Daniel Ashville Louisy.

In addition to being MD of Ashville Aggregates and Concrete, this larger-than-life character is also a social media star. To you and me he runs a fleet of Scania and Volvo tippers, grabs and volumetric mixers, but to the 460,000-plus subscribers to the Ashville YouTube channel, his black trucks mean far more than that. Fans tune in religiously every Sunday to see the latest episode of Ashville Weekly and to catch up with the trials and tribulations of this high-profile West London operator. His videos have collectively clocked up more than 65 million hours of viewing. In case you’re wondering, that’s the equivalent of 7420 years!

Daniel puts Ashville Weekly’s popularity down to the fact that it’s real. “A lot of what’s been put out there these days is very polished, with people telling everyone how great everything is, but I share the challenges and the struggles I have and how I overcome them,” he explains. “Plus, apparently, I can be funny sometimes, but I don’t see it myself!”

He can also be informative and incredibly entertaining, like when he explained how Mercedes-Benz’s active brake assist works before accidentally rear-ending a VW Golf with a brand new Actros demonstrator. By his own admission, Mercedes-Benz didn’t talk to him for a while!

While the show does wonders for the British road haulage industry, I am keen to find out what Ashville Aggregates gets out of it. After all, it’s not like those 460,000 subscribers are going to want 20 tonnes of muck removed.

“It’s about putting the brand out there globally, so people know who Ashville are,” he explains, comparing it to the popularity of famous British haulier Eddie Stobart. “Everyone knows what an Eddie Stobart lorry is, but how many are going to use their services?” he asks.

Daniel tells me that he used to spend a lot of money on Google Ads, but it was expensive at £5 ($10.50) per click. He says: “My competitors would click continually and run up a bill for me. Instead of spending that money with Google, I’d sooner invest it in my business. These days, when the phone rings, they don’t say ‘I found you on Google’. Some people might say, ‘I saw one of your lorries’, but most say, ‘I watched one of your videos’. Obviously, people are watching it worldwide, and I’m not going to deliver a skip to New Zealand, but we do get work as a result.”

A familiar face around the world and a modern-day trucking role model.

But what about the competition? Doesn’t Ashville Aggregates’ massive social media presence assist its competitors?

“Usain Bolt could tell me what training he does, but I’m not going to get any faster, especially not at my age!” laughs the 41-year-old. “I know it’s frowned upon to show people what you’re doing, but it doesn’t bother me. In fact, my only regret is that I didn’t start [recording weekly bulletins] sooner.”

Not surprisingly, a strong social media presence means the company never struggles to attract new recruits. Although, as Daniel points out, sometimes this can be more of a hindrance than a help. Whereas many hauliers suffer from a driver shortage, Ashville Aggregates has the opposite problem and is inundated with applicants whenever it advertises a job.

“People are very enthusiastic to work at Ashville. However, they are so enthusiastic that they often don’t read the application properly,” he explains. “There will be parameters, like a minimum of two years’ experience, but they tend to be completely ignored. We then have the challenge of going through this massive influx of applications, one by one, which can be very time-consuming.”

Daniel gets hands on.

In addition to his YouTube channel, Daniel has also been making regular appearances on the BBC News. “They speak to me about the construction industry, and love to pop down to the yard,” he tells me.

But we’re about to see even more of him on our screens, as he’s just landed himself his own National Geographic TV show. Building Impossible with Daniel Ashville sees the star travelling the world to report on seemingly impossible engineering projects. The first series is set to air later this year.

While this is likely to be the launch of a new high-profile career, I genuinely hope that it doesn’t spell the end of another. After all, losing an incredible ambassador like him would be a massive blow for the industry.