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Jack Richards: ‘I never let anyone down’

  • 26 May 2014
  • By Christopher Walton

“I’ve always been ambitious,” Jack Richards told CM two years ago. “I’ve never wanted to be second best to anybody, and I think this is what has brought the company along to the position it’s in today.”

Sadly, Richards, who founded the Fakenham, Norfolk-based Jack Richards Son, died on Monday 12 May. He was 90, and had been involved in the running of the business up until the month before. His secret of 58 successful years in business? “I never let anyone down,” he said.

Richards started his career in haulage in 1956, setting up a business in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, with just one truck. By 1957 he was having second thoughts – he’d made less than Ј2,000 in that financial year. He began questioning why his bigger rivals were succeeding, and then an idea hit him.

“I’m living in an area where there’s a lot of fruit and flowers, and through a few enquiries I started a nightly service to Nottingham wholesale market.”

It was a shrewd move. Five weeks later, he needed a second truck. By the early 1970s, that number had risen to 35, but then the supermarkets began their rise and market sales dropped off. Richards’ response? He bought belt-discharge bulk trailers to transport potatoes, carrots, onions and parsnips to packing plants. The move earned him the nickname The Spud King.

Richards was always a staunch supporter of the British truck, and for many years standardised on ERF. As ERF succumbed he was courted by Daf and, as a man who prided himself and others on loyalty, it’s a marque the firm remains committed to on its distinctive yellow fleet (currently standing at 200 trucks and 350 trailers).

However, anyone with a keen interest in British trucking heritage should visit the immaculately preserved classic trucks at the Jack Richards Collection, near its Norfolk headquarters.

The yellow fleet came about by accident. The firm’s first vehicle was red and grey, but one day Richards bought a Bedford S-Type that was moving Lucozade. The sign was too eye-catching to change and his painter offered to change Lucozade to Jack Richards Son. “I thought it was great,” he said. CM thought so too.


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