Mark Kennedy aka ‘Spanky’, has been working for J Grennan & Sons for the past seven years but it hasn’t always been that way. He cut his teeth plastering for twelve years prior to sitting into a cabin.
They say that ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ and this is very much the case for Mark, as his father was involved in the sector twenty-five years ago.
His nickname ‘Spanky’ was crowned upon him for looking a lot like Spanky - a character from The Little Rascals show.
The thirty-nine-year-old always liked being around the lorries that his father drove and would enjoy sitting in the cabs as a youngster. He would travel to all the shows whenever it was possible.
He was twenty-eight when he decided to start driving for a living. Third, in a line of four brothers, Mark himself has four children.
Thankfully, the farthest that he must travel is into the UK, but that is rare too. “You’ll have long days and short days, but I’m working for a good company so it’s ok,” he told Marcella Connolly - That's Farming.
He continued to mention that his wife Leona understands his job and the hours that go with it and he is grateful for the support.
Mark spends most of his days delivering grain, oilseeds, and pulses to farms all over the country where he gets to meet the farmers and have a chat; however, there could be days when he doesn’t meet a farmer for the entire day.
Such is the regularity of his deposits; Mark would simply know where to put the feed once it’s delivered and there would be no need for instruction.
“Even on the road itself, you’re meeting other drivers out and about” smiled Mark, who said: “You’d go insane otherwise”.
Grennans have a fleet of Scanias with Mark driving an R450 that he treats with special care as the haulier said that “it’s like your house” for the amount of time that’s spent in it.
He has found comfort in Grennan’s policy of ‘leave it back the way you got it’, as sometimes other drivers may have to use the lorry.
Working on smaller ‘back-roads’ can be frustrating for the haulier when meeting cars on the roads who may not give-way to the bigger vehicle, making the qualified haulage driver exercise all his skill to safely reverse up the road.
Low-hanging branches or unkept hedges scan also prove difficult - vision is obscured, and the lorry driver may struggle not to damage the vehicle.
“Trailers are getting bigger and lanes are getting smaller” reflected Mark, who added that sometimes the trees are meeting each other in the middle of some roads.
All the drivers take an annual CPC driving course to keep their skills and license updated.
Grennan & Sons is a family-run business and the family-touch is what makes the company such a pleasure to work with, Mark explained.
The haulage side of the company was originally started by Brian Grennan, who passed away five years ago, his parents Mary and John Grennan, together with all the haulage staff are making a success of this arm of the business on Brian’s behalf.
They are expanding the mill this year as well as running the fleet of thirteen lorries. “Mary and John are the nicest people that you could ever work for,” enthused Mark.
Mark is not from an agricultural background, but he has seen and learned a lot from his trips onto farms. Once, he arrived on a farm to find a ewe which was struggling to lamb.
“I had to roll up my sleeve and pull it” explained the lorry driver, who was quite pleased that he got to experience it first-hand.
There have been many occasions during calving or lambing season that Mark has received a good insight to what farming life is really like.
Mark’s youngest son is just four-years-old and he adores sitting in the cab with his father although legalities dictate that he cannot travel with his dad but he is showing all the signs of a haulier-in-the-making.
“Grennans are a great company to work for; the place is getting busier and busier every year and we all get on and help each other out,”
“That’s the family touch, I cannot say enough nice things about them,” he concluded.
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