Last week witnessed Eagle Couriers’ genial Co-Director, Jerry Stewart, pass the milestone 30 years of service mark.
To celebrate this, we took a moment to catch up with Jerry, to find out what keeps his fire burning, how the role and the world has changed, as well as his many highs and lows, successes and challenges.
Q: Firstly, how did you get into the sector?
To be quite honest, I only joined in 1988 with a view to gaining a few years of experience doing something new. I certainly didn’t expect still to be here 30 years on!
The industry was only really emerging and finding its feet. Eagle was a brand that really was there from start. But how different things were. We were still hopping on trains to do the back and forth runs between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
As well as this Eagle had a motorbike rider, and a single Bedford van with a two-way radio.
I’d come from a job working with HGVs and haulage and wanted to see what this fleet of foot industry was all about.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges?
Quite often it has been the attitudes of other people external to the business, who have been so quick to write off the sector.
At first it was the proliferation of the fax machine. That would do away with all the business to business runs transporting sensitive and urgent documents.
Next was the e-mail and again it was the death knell for couriers. While all of these developments have caused the sector to adapt – just as it has the world around us – the sector (and Eagle) still continues to go from strength to strength.
Another big frustration is the behaviour of some of the biggest firms in the sector, who overly pressurise drivers to drive down costs. It really can leave people with a certain perception of couriers that is hard to get around.
Q: What was your most satisfying moment?
It is hard to say, but there is a great amount of pleasure in being able to spearhead the growth of Eagle Couriers, along with Fiona.
It means that we can take on more staff, give them greater security and build what has become a close-knit team.
I’ve also taken a lot of pleasure over the years in making the headlines. I had a famous run in with Halle Berry no less, who was filming in Glasgow resulting in roads being shut. The front page of The Evening Times that day still makes me chuckle!
Since then I’ve also had the pleasure of welcoming (and grilling) some of Scotland’s Transport Ministers, including Humza Yousaf and Keith Brown – even famously getting the latter’s mobile number to keep him updated on winter road conditions!
Just three years ago I was a made a fellow of the Institute of Couriers, attending a gowning ceremony at the House of Lords no less. Another really special moment.
Q: Anything you would do differently?
Not at all. It’s great to be part of a developing company that plays a key role in all types of business.
Q: What keeps you hungry to work?
Money! In all seriousness, I am still amazed by the number of requests we get regarding our services. New courier requests pop up all the time.
Q: And finally… given the weird and wonderful deliveries, any comedic moments?
While we’ve had some unbelievable moments, transporting everything from aeroplane nosecones, to lost pigeons, to poisonous frogs.
But a particular mishap that still has me laughing when I think of it was a former motorbike rider, who long before mobile phones went completely off grid.
We hadn’t heard from him in hours, so began to get quite concerned, calling up all the hospitals in the vicinity of his routes for the day.
Eventually he called from a payphone. Clearly distressed I had to calm him down, telling him to read out what was on the nearest road sign and we’d direct him there.
A few minutes later and he came back to the phone. In complete deadpan his response was “It says… car park.”
Eagle Couriers is Scotland’s leading courier firm with more than 32 years’ experience. More information about the company can be found at www.eaglecouriers.co.uk