Employee Focus – Mike Bolton
Mike Bolton is an HGV driver and has worked for Torque for just over 7 years. He makes sure we keep our supply chain running up and down the breadth of the country, completing deliveries and collections for a vast number of customers. He has always worked in or around vehicles and has an enviable knowledge of engines. He's never short of a funny anecdote, or even a little life perspective, garnered from a career on the road.
1.What’s your role at Torque?
I am a heavy goods driver. My normal duties (working in transport) include delivery or collection of varied goods, mainly clothing and hanging garments.
2. How long have you worked for Torque?
Just over 7 years. My time at Torque started through an agency. I kept on being regularly placed with the company so when a position became available for a full-time employee (then Elite Group Ltd) I applied for it and took up the post. The name change to Torque occurred soon after
3. How long have you worked as an HGV driver?
I have been in and out of transport and driving heavy goods for over 30 years.
4. How did you become an HGV driver?
All my jobs from leaving school have revolved around vehicles and machinery in one way or another. I started as a garage’s apprentice mechanic working on cars and motorcycles, then ran a tyre fitting bay and also sold forklift trucks before moving on to selling 4-wheel drive vehicles like Daihatsu & Jeep for a Chrysler dealership.
During my time I secured a position as a technician/fitter at Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick, Lancashire working in the aero-engine-division. After 4 years my time there was cut short when there was a decision to close the department and move it down to the parent factory in Derby due to rising transportation costs. Moving to Derby didn’t appeal at the time so I made the decision to go for my HGV licence as it was something completely different and outdoor to do!
5. What’s the number one thing you’ve learnt in your role?
I suppose my knowledge of the layout of our country and places within England, Scotland & Wales, of which I knew so little about has improved hugely.
My parents didn’t have a car or even licenses until late in life, hence, as children, my brother and I hadn’t really travelled far until acquiring driving licenses for ourselves. Once my work in transport started that all changed, and I’ve now driven to the four corners of the country! Map reading and street planners were then the items for navigating your way around.
6. What’s your favourite part of your job?
Getting out of a warm comfy bed, early, to get to work for 4am (particularly in winter) is hard. However, having made that effort, and once you’re on the road and driving, the roads are lovely and quiet and you occasionally get to see the most spectacular sunrises or late in the evening, sunsets, the sky is so red it looks like fire at times and with roaming hills and the countryside as a back drop, it’s just beautiful. Listening to music with the changing scenery is something I always enjoy. A good reward for such early starts!
7. Funniest / most interesting story on the job?
Two funny moments spring to mind (although they were not particularly funny at the time) I have laughed about both when telling the tales, trials and tribulations of trying to find appropriate parking after long days and very little time left on the tachograph.
Once in Crawley, on an Industrial estate riddled with double yellow lines, I parked in a gateway with heavily chained and locked gates in front of which were concrete blocks. The blocks were the type used for securement of the entrance against break-ins or squatting on land not belonging. I felt sure this would be an adequate place to park as I was only staying the minimum time allowed.
At precisely 3am a knock to my cab door came to break my sleep! A chap parked alongside with the engine running on his crane mounted wagon and said: “I’ve come for those concrete blocks pal, you’ll have to move” How unlucky is that, I ask you!
Again, I once parked late outside premises, showing no signs of life or activity. I parked up late, around 8pm with the intentions of running again at 5am first thing. At midnight I was surrounded by white vans, forklift trucks and an army of people. It was only a John Mezies depot fully loading their vans with all the morning’s newspapers for delivery to newsagents!
8. How do you think Torque go the extra mile for their customers?
Transport always go the extra mile for customers. We frequently book times for delivery for destinations as far as London or north to Glasgow – this requires drivers to rise exceptionally early. Especially when setting out from home first, to get to work for start times of 4am and then making sure we meet our customer’s delivery requirements!
9. Can you tell us a fun fact or story about yourself?
The most interesting and memorable thing to have happened in my life was totally unexpected and started with me accompanying my then wife to Leeds Bradford Airport by coach.
My wife at the time, Janis, worked at the local newspaper office in Halifax as a Reader Holiday Representative, organising numerous trips away both home and abroad.
Because of my time working at Rolls Royce on Trent engines RB211 and my role helping to develop quieter and more powerful engines for the airbus coming into service, Janis asked me to come along on the trip as “I might find it interesting”. I enquired as to what it was but she said “all would be revealed in time.”
I was reluctant to go as the weather wasn’t particularly nice and dark clouds were threatening showers, but, she had got me thinking as to what could be so different from our previous trips to the airport, so curiosity peaked I went along. There were a number of people on the coach, all different ages, and although trying, I couldn’t hear anybody give the game away on what the day would entail.
As we approached the airport, crowds were gathered along its perimeter fence which further spiked my appetite to find out what was happening. You couldn’t really see anything from the road approach but as we entered the departure lounge we were escorted over to a welcoming party of British Airways staff and taken through to a small buffet and handed a glass of champagne.
Janis said help yourself then ushered me over to the window overlooking the runway. There before me stood the sharp sleek arrow like shape of CONCORDE! The trip turned out to be the chance to fly on Concore and enjoy a short but miraculously quick flight, out over the East Coast, and North Sea at a height of 50,000 feet flying at a supersonic speed of Mach 2 (1320mph) up to the top of Scotland!
We were escorted out onto the runway and on-board the flight of a lifetime. My wife said she had permission for me to look closer, we stood under the fuselage and cockpit along side its incredibly tall nose wheel. The view from the ground was something to see, with its distinctive shaped Delta wing and the four underslung, extremely powerful – Rolls Royce Olympus engines. The engines delivered a huge 32,080lbs of thrust, with reheat and variable nozzles allowing them to achieve such speeds as Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound or 1320mph – 22 miles per minute, one mile in 2.75 seconds!)
Just when I thought I’d finished Janis said the pilot and co-pilot had given permission to board and view the cockpit and all its controls and instrumentation. I hurriedly climbed the stairway and lept into the cockpit area where both pilots were sitting checking, preparing for flight. As we exchanged greetings I heard the fuselage hatch door slam shut, followed by an air stewardess requesting I sit down in the navigator’s seat directly behind the main pilot and buckle up.
You can imagine the look and absolute shock or excitement on my face as I was told Janis had passed on the trip for herself and said my husband will get far more out of the whole experience so let him take my place. Well I’ve heard of couriers sat on coaches along side the drivers, but this was something else, in a league beyond imagination!
The flight left Leeds Bradford Airport climbing steeply until once out over the North Sea and levelling out. At this point as I looked forward and out over the pilot’s shoulders, the horizon and earth curvature could clearly be seen due to the extreme height we were flying at.
The cockpit nose visor was then raised into position and the pilot opened the four engine throttles of the Olympus engines. Within minutes the co-pilot turned pointing to an instrument on the side that clicked over from 1.9 to 2 at which time he said “You’re flying supersonic at Mach 2.”
You wouldn’t have known as any sonic-boom was behind us unheard in the cockpit. Because of the incredible speed we were travelling we were approaching the airport to land before I knew it! Now that is an experience I will never forget.
Want to join a winning team?
We’re always looking for talent to join Team Torque, across a variety of roles and departments.
We offer opportunities for people to grow and advance professionally and personally as well as benefits such as childcare vouchers, life assurance, a company pension scheme and employee discounts across a range of retailers.
If you have good communication and interpersonal skills, and are energetic and self-motivated, get in touch and let’s start a conversation.