Special feature: Ted’s truck driving calling

By: Chris McCullough, Photography by: Chris McCullough

Deals on Wheels talks to a Northern Ireland truck driver to find out more about his life on the road

Delivering animal feed up to six days a week is not just a job for driver Ted Jones, as it was always his true calling in life to drive a truck.

Ted Jones and his beloved five-year-old Volvo FH4

For the past nine years, Ted has been working for Coagh-based Hutchinsons Feeds delivering livestock feed all around Northern Ireland and hauling raw materials from Belfast Docks back to the feed mill. 

Each day is different for this 35-year-old truck driver who operates a 2013 Volvo FH4 truck with a Muldoon bulk trailer on the back that can hold around a 23 tonnes payload
of feed.

However, Ted’s Volvo is no ordinary truck, as it is well recognised right around the country for one specific reason—it is kept meticulously clean inside and out by this proud driver.

Ted is married to Lesa and has two young boys, Ryan, aged two, and Alfie, just eight weeks old. The family lives in Moneymore, which is a short distance away from the Hutchinsons Feed Mill, ran by Ian Hutchinson and son Michael.

"Driving a truck has always been my calling," Ted says. "I can remember standing outside school at only 13 years of age watching the trucks roll past and saying to myself, someday I will be doing that.

Ted delivers animal feed all over Northern Ireland

"I couldn’t wait to get to the age to drive a truck and when it came around, I jumped straight into the cab and started learning."

Ted passed his HGV test on a Tuesday and started driving a truck the very next day, as he was lucky to have a job waiting on him, if he passed.

"On the Wednesday morning, I jumped into a Scania 113 and took a load of bricks down to Sligo," Ted says.

"I actually took my dad with me on that trip for company and support, as it was my first venture behind the wheel of an HGV."

Following that successful journey, Ted built up the confidence and ventured to new destinations around Dublin and even down to Cork.

"Lesa accompanied me on that first Cork run and she read the maps while I did the driving," Ted adds. "It was a slower journey than it is today, as the roads now are much better and there are fewer small villages to go through.

"Lesa was a super navigator back then, and I enjoyed having her on some of the runs with me," he says.

Over the years, Ted was hauling loads in and out of Hutchinsons Feeds and it was during this time he built a good relationship with the family. A few years later, Ted was approached by Michael to drive for them on a full-time basis hauling animal feed and raw materials. 

Ted collects another load of soya in Belfast Docks for mixing into quality animal feed

"I was unsure at the time if I really wanted to be delivering animal feed on farms but decided to go ahead and try it," he says.

"Michael accompanied me on the first journey I did for Hutchinsons and believe it or not, we jackknifed a couple of times on that job, as there was a lot of snow that year.

However, it didn’t deter me and here I am nine years later in the same job. It is a real pleasure to work for the Hutchinson family. Every day brings a new load for a different area of the country making each journey enjoyable," he says.

Stickler for cleanliness

The 35-year-old driver keeps the cab interior immaculate

Hutchinsons Feed mill was set up back in the 1940s by the late Sandy Hutchinson and currently runs nine articulated trucks and one rigid truck in the fleet.

The company is renowned across the country for producing a top-quality animal feed and has a catchy motto ‘Hutchinsons Feeds; unlocking livestock potential.’

Ted started driving for Hutchinsons in a FM Volvo, a truck that is still working today and is the ‘newbie’s’ first truck to drive. Since then, he has been a real convert to the Volvo brand and reckons his Volvo FH4 is as good as it can get for delivering around tight and sometimes slippery farmyards.

"Hutchinsons Feeds carry out all their advertising through their lorries on the road," Ted says. "That’s why we all keep them clean and immaculate. I probably go a bit overboard when it comes to keeping my Volvo clean but that’s just who I am."

Even the pedals have dust protection!

In fact, Ted is so fussy about keeping the Volvo clean, he refuses to wear boots in the cab and keeps overalls in the outdoor locker to use every time he is unloading at a farm.

"I do like to keep everything clean and tidy," Ted says. "I may be delivering to farms but that doesn’t mean everything has to be filthy.

"Before entering the cab, I always take my boots off and leave them on the footwell and drive in my socks. I even have protective pads to put over the pedals to keep them clean.

"As soon as I leave the cab, the doors are locked and no one can get in. More importantly, this ensures the dust cannot get in the cab either.

Ted takes all precautions to keep his driving clothes clean

"Depending on the drop, I will also put on overalls, gloves, and a hat to keep me clean, which is then removed before I go back in the cab. I use an airline attached to the trailer to blow the dust off me once I finish unloading, too."

The big rig

The Volvo and trailer combination is just the right size to negotiate around tight farmyards

Ted is full of praise for his Volvo citing it as the best truck he has ever driven but he has aspirations on what he would like to drive at some stage in the future.

"The Volvo FH4 is a real powerful truck," he says. "Overall, the truck and trailer when full, weighs 38 tonnes but the Volvo can handle it. There is plenty of visibility for the driver to see all around the cab and drive safely.

Even the late company founder gets to ride on the Volvo

"Driver comfort is top in this truck as Volvo pay close attention to detail in the cab. However, the best feature on this truck is by far the i-Shift transmission.

"It is real easy to use and has such smooth gear changes. Even on steep inclines, the i-Shift works real well," he says.

"We also have super back up service from Dennisons who look after us particularly well with servicing and if anything ever goes wrong.

Truck windows are always closed when the dust work starts

"Back at the mill, we have our own mechanics that look after our fleet of trucks and trailers.

"Every six weeks, the trucks are thoroughly checked by the garage and receive all the attention required. It’s the same story for the trailers, which also receive a check every six weeks," he says.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook