Ken Wildes1680x945

How long have you been driving trucks for Ken?

I’m here for 31 years with BWG which was AWL back then – Amalgamated Wholesalers. In 1991 or 1992 it changed to BWG. I got my licence for rigids in 1996 and I came off the road and didn’t have an artic licence so Mark Crowe said he could sort it out for me. In the space of 10 weeks I had all my lessons done and the test done so I just arrived the next Monday morning and they said off you go!

How long ago was it when you got your artic licence?

Two years ago, I was only driving rigids before that. Scania’s were all I was used to. Since the Mercedes trucks came along you can see the improvements all around you. It’s like having all the extra gadgets in a car which I wouldn’t have been used to. 


Nationality: Irish

Marital Status: Married with 3 kids 

Truck Experience: 23 years

Place of Residence: Dublin

Give us a quick run through as to what BWG does.

In the beginning BWG was just Spar and Mace. Then they decided to take on the Homestead stores. When Eurospar came along it just grew and grew. I used to do a lot of catering around town, I started driving a catering van. You’d put 8 pallets in the back and you could have 20-30 drops a day. Two drums of cooking oil here and something else there. I was a young man so it kept me fit but it was the hardest job I’ve ever done. As the company got bigger I gradually moved up. Drivers were leaving and I never had my own truck in the beginning but as drivers left or moved up the ladder I got one. In 2010 they moved to our new base where we took on Londis and the company just exploded so they needed someone to shunt trailers around the yard, loading and unloading. I done a series of everything, I came in and I done night shifts getting the loads out. We closed BWG in Ballyshannon so they were sending 3 artics down daily and I would have to make sure that they were loaded with their dockets on the back dock, good for delivery. The drag came in then and the rest is history.

With the drag are you doing multi-drops?

I know where I’m going every day. I usually go to Kinnegad every morning and after that it’s either to Mullingar or Athlone. I bring their chilled food one day, their ambient food the next day and then their drinks another day but they want to try and do it altogether which would be good for me in a sense because the more pallets for the shop the less drops I’ll have to do. When I get rid of my first 2 drops I dump the drag and I’m in a rigid for the day. I’ve a great relationship with all the shops.

Where do you park the drag when you’re not using it?

We own all the Value Centre’s and they’re in nearly every county so I just find the nearest one and park it up there. There are a lot of shops I’m serving where you wouldn’t fit an artic into but it is a job for an artic and that’s where the drag comes into play.

Have you any fond memories or story about being out in your truck?

My favourite truck story is one from my friend Joey who is also a driver. Joey used to drive a certain route and the day previous a truck carrying mushrooms had driven the same route. On the route were a line of trees and the mushroom truck had clipped a couple and shed some seeds. The next day while driving his route Joey’s truck brushed off the tree line and the seeds must have attached to his truck. Shortly after there were actual mushrooms growing on the side of his truck! We still laugh about that one to this day!

What made you think ‘You know what? Driving trucks is something I’d like to do.’

My brother was a helper in this company from 1982 to 1987. One of the helpers before me came of age and they took him on and trained him up so I had my ear to the ground and thought this is for me too. You got a pension set up and it was great money especially if you were a driver so I said if there’s good money here then there’s a future for me here too. Back then I left school when I was 15 and had no leaving certificate. My father had 2 vans in here doing bits and pieces and I came home from school for the summer holidays one year and told him I wanted to start working so he said right you’re starting in AWL in the morning. I came in Monday morning and was a helper on the trucks.

Do you enjoy being left to your own devices in the truck?

Yeah, we used to have helpers too and I believed it was important to have a good relationship with them. When we moved operations all the helpers were gone. A lot of them were offered a few bob and others retired. There are only 3 of us left from the original crew and they’ll be retiring in the next couple of years. With regards to trucking though I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s great out on the road and every day is different. You’ve your good days and your bad days; sometimes a customer will give you attitude about where you’ve parked even though you have a heavy load for him so you have to bite your lip! I get on really well though with the shops I stock. I’d be a fat as a fool if I was to take the rolls and sweets they offer me all the time. Every shop you’re going into you walk by a deli so it’s hard to say no to!

You’ve driven the older trucks and newer trucks. What features from both do you like the most?

Definitely the digital tacho. It does everything for you. The boxes on the back are now a bit wider than the old ones so it allows you to fit two pallets. The tail lifts are great too. Everything about the trucks these days is just completely different. I never drove an automatic before I got this Mercedes-Benz and it’s just put it in gear and off you go! It takes a lot of work out of it. The cruise control as well is great. As soon as I’m through the toll bridge at Enfield you can set it at 90 kilometres an hour and you’re on your way. There isn’t a whole lot that I miss about the older trucks.

If you had to give any advice to someone who was thinking about driving a truck as part of their daily job what would it be?

You have to be very alert. Years ago, you’d get away with a lot more and you could be half asleep some days. Nowadays you’ve to be very alert doing your walk around checks because at the end of the day it’s your responsibility. It’s not the company’s fault if a tyre is bald, you should’ve spotted that. The roads have changed a lot now as well. Lots of people see the CPC’s as just being boring but I’ve learned things at them. I knew nothing about weights until I completed the CPC’s.

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