65 Years of Albert Fyfe Haulage by Steven Eddie, ECV Nutritionist
For many farmers in the north-east of Scotland, the sight of an Albert Fyfe lorry turning into their road end means that their feed delivery is in good hands. For anyone in the area involved in agriculture or road haulage, the company’s well-presented lorries are instantly recognisable by their dark green and red livery with tartan banner along the front grill.
Based in Auchenblae in the Howe O’ The Mearns, the haulage company was founded in 1956 and this year marks 65 years in business. Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Albert and Elizan Fyfe, the family business has built up a reputation for high quality and excellent levels of service. They specialise in bulk deliveries with their fleet of rigid eight wheeler lorries. The vehicles are equipped with pneumatic blower equipment which allows bulk animal feeds and combinable crops to be discharged into bulk storage bins, silos and buildings where access is limited for tipping. The body of each lorry can be split into four separate compartments using internal doors. This allows up to four different products or deliveries to be hauled at once with a maximum load of eighteen tonnes. They have found a niche in the market as there are very few independent haulage contractors that carry out this type of work. Their main line of work is delivering animal feed and grain from the local millers and merchants out to customers as well as doing farm to farm work.
The business was started in 1956 by Albert and Bunty Fyfe. Upon leaving the army, Albert purchased a lorry and started doing work locally for farmers and merchants using a flatbed lorry which saw many loads of feed and fertiliser in its time. These sundries were mostly sold in hundred weight bags and required to be hand balled off the back of the lorry and carried up the usually steep set of byre steps into the loft. In 1961, the couple had a son, Albert Jnr. A second lorry was purchased in 1963 and by this time the business had expanded its range of services to include livestock haulage as well as continuing with the flatbed work. In the early days, the company favoured operating either Seddon or Commer lorries before settling for Volvo which they continue to use today. In July 1963, tragedy struck when Albert Snr was killed in a road accident. The business was continued under the watchful eye of Mrs Fyfe and over the years expanded as demand grew for their services. At this time, most of their work was through North Eastern Farmers (NEF) based in Aberdeen. Fyfes carried out the majority of the work for the Mearns area. Sandy Petrie, an ex-trader at North Eastern Farmers, said that no matter where or when they needed a lorry to collect feed or grain, the Fyfe lorries were always there on time ready to carry out the work. Their friendly, efficient service was second to none.
Upon leaving school, Albert Jnr started as an apprentice mechanic with Volvo Commercial Vehicles in Aberdeen. After serving his time, he returned home to learn the family business. He celebrated his 21st birthday on a Monday and had passed his lorry test by the Friday. This was no mean feat; his mother had a full day’s work lined up for him on the Saturday!
In 1978, the Fyfes made the decision to move away from livestock haulage and diversify into bulk tippers fitted with blowing equipment. At the time, their first main customer for this service was The Panmure Trading Company based in Monikie. Most of the work involved delivering feed barley and oats to farms. Blowing equipment allowed for the feed to be blown into storage lofts, cutting out the work of carrying bags up the stairs much to everyone’s relief! Albert notes that great care had to be taken in the early days trying to negotiate blower pipes through skylights and not break any slates or gutters. Life has certainly become much easier with most farms now having dedicated feed bins and silos for dedicated products. Each farm is different and feed stores vary. Today, many farmers have opted for ex-shipping containers which provide a flexible, vermin-proof store. The early blower lorries were kitted out with drop sides and internal doors. This still allowed the vehicles to be utilised for bags and pallets as well as bulk work. At their peak, the Fyfes ran a fleet of five lorries employing four drivers plus Albert. His mother attended to the day to day running of the company which is now done by Albert’s wife, Elizan.
As the blower work took off, Albert picked up work from several companies. As well as expanding their work with NEF in Aberdeen, work was picked up from Bibby based in Scone and ABN in Cupar. In 1991, Drumlithie-based grain merchants, East Coast Viners Grain, expanded their Broadwood site and installed their feed mill. East Coast Viners Animal Nutrition was founded. With orders on the system, who else would be better suited to handle the deliveries than the local, well-established haulier Albert Fyfe. Nowadays, Albert is a well-known figure in the weighbridge office at Drumlithie where he picks up his daily loads and gets ready to head off on his rounds. Other work is sourced from Norvite and WN Lindsay as well as farm to farm grain haulage. Traceability introduced a major benefit to Fyfes when they registered with TASCC – quality assurance for combinable crops and animal foodstuffs. Initially it was quite a high cost for the small company but they were “ahead of the game” to an extent being one of the earlier companies to sign up to the scheme.
Over the years, Albert has seen many changes to his job and in the agricultural industry. Throughout his career, the vehicles in his fleet have advanced greatly. They’re more hi-tech and come complete with onboard weighing equipment. This is a must-have when doing split deliveries on pig or poultry units. The downturn in the dairy industry in the north-east which provided steady work throughout the year has been a big loss. Smaller farms that were passed down through generations have been lost and taken over by bigger outfits. In the early days, there was always someone on farm to greet you and help with unloading. Today, with many farms spread out over several units, it can be a lonely existence for the drivers and farmers alike. Thank goodness for mobile phones to help with delivery instructions – all very well if you can get a signal!
We live and work in a world where things are continually evolving and changing. Nothing seems to stay the same for long and personal contact can sometimes be sadly lacking. However, it is always a pleasure to get a friendly wave, smile and toot when you meet Albert Fyfe on the road.
East Coast Viners, The Forbes Family and staff would like to thank Albert and Elizan for all their hard work and keeping our customers happy over the many years!