A Galway man through and through, Laurence O’Toole was "born and bred" near Moycullen in Co. Galway and was always destined for a future in haulage.
Laurence currently serves as the Managing Director of one of Ireland’s leading haulage fleets, O’Toole Transport Ltd, though the O’Toole family actually began their journey into the business world on their family dairy farm. It was here in Moycullen that they ran a 45-strong Friesian milking herd supplying Kerry Group, before their focus shifted in the mid-1990’s.
“We had a dairy farm here in Moycullen.” Laurence noted.
“We were farmers and we’re still farming. We were dairy farming and my father was milking 45 cows per day at one stage.” He explained.
It is not as though the family made a giant leap from farming into the haulage industry either, as Laurence’s grandfather, John Pake, had a number of trucks on the road in the 1960’s. He began the family’s first foray into the industry in a Commer lorry, before his untimely passing led to the haulage venture taking a back seat for a number of years.
“My grandfather always had trucks back in the 50/60’s”, said the Galway man.
“He had six or seven lorries…He had a coal run up to Arigna, he would have been at turf and cattle and everything...It was all agricultural related.” He added.
Laurence’s father, Larry, gained the grá for the industry through his father and it soon became a lifetime ambition of his to have a fleet of his own travelling the country’s roads. This feat was achieved upon Laurence turning 20-years-old in 1996, with him having obtained his rigid licence at 17 and his artic licence at 18 years old.
“He (Larry) always wanted to have his own transport fleet when he was growing up.” Laurence explained.
“He went and bought his first truck in 1996 and that’s how it all started.” He continued.
This is what marked the beginning of what has now been a 22-year journey for the O’Toole company in the haulage sector and the family originally ran their dairy and haulage enterprises side-by-side.
How it All Began -
The true roots of the O’Toole family’s journey into the haulage industry may have began in the 1960’s with John Pake, though it was in the early 2000’s that they focused all of their collective efforts on ‘All Thing Haulage’.
The company's rather impressive progression began with the purchase of their maiden truck, a Scania 93M 230HP, with driving duties were originally shared between Laurence and his father, Larry. Laurence, just as his father had, was now himself fulfilling a lifetime goal, driving lorries on the daily.
“Both of us were driving it. He was driving it during the night and vice versa” Laurence told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“That’s kind of what we did, milking cows and driving trucks.” Laurence laughed.
Such was the success and rapid progression of the transport company, that by 2000/2001 they had increased their fleet size to five trucks and began work for a local salmon producer. This also coincided with the compan’s maiden artic lorry purchase, a Scania 113.
“We were also doing work for Connacht Mineral water in Galway, bringing loads up to Dublin and loads of mineral water down from Dublin every day, three or four times a week.” Laurence stated.
“Then we had rigid trucks delivering all over Connacht…We delivered everything from beer, bottles, minerals, everything…Multi-drop deliveries all over the west.” he noted.
At around the same time in the early 2000’s, the dairy industry was not shining in the brightest light, which encouraged them to instead focus all of their efforts on their now bustling haulage operation, rather than trying to run the two together.
Larry O'Toole, the founder of O'Toole transport Ltd.
They did not, however, abandon their agricultural heritage and instead made the transition from dairy to keeping beef stock, which allowed them to collectively develop their haulage fleet and meant they were less tied to the farm. Laurence's father now runs a herd of solely Pedigree Limousine cattle, with Larry breeding the majority of his own stock.
“He made the decision that he would get out of dairying and into beef cattle and we were all able to focus on growing the company.” Laurence said.
The O’Toole Transport Team & Services -
Over the years O’Toole Transport Ltd have progressed to having a team of approximately 160 in total. This includes office staff, drivers, mechanics, managers, warehouse staff and more.
“We are up to about 160 now in the company...It is very much a family-run company but we do depend an awful lot on our employees. We have some great people helping us to make decisions throughout the business.” Laurence noted.
“We have some drivers with us since we started out and some of the best lads we have in the company started in the driving seat, but then came into the office…The company is only really a reflection of the good people working with us.” He added.
The family involved in the business includes Larry, Laurence himself and his siblings, Mary, Ellen and Daniel. Larry and Laurence carry out operations from the hub in Galway, with the remaining family members operating out of Dublin. O’Toole Transport Ltd are now not only operating and hauling all over Ireland but also the UK and much of Europe, with approximately 95% of their consignments comprising of refrigerated goods such as seafood.
“About 50% of what we do is in Ireland and the balance then is between the UK and Europe.” He stated.
“We move a lot of seafood overseas into Europe, particularly France. That’s a big part of the business. We also do supermarket distribution in Ireland.” He added.
A company loyal to the Scania badge, having began their journey behind the wheel of a Scania 93M 230HP, O’Toole Transport Ltd currently have a fleet of 95 trucks within their ranks. This marks an outstanding achievement for the family in 22 short years and means that they grew at a rate of 4.27 trucks since their introduction to the industry in 1996.
“We have 95 trucks in total.” Said the Galway native.
Affirming their loyalty to the trucks made in Sweden, O'Toole Transport Ltd currently have 86 Scania’s on the road, with three Volvo’s and six Renault lorrie’s completing the fleet. The pride and joy of the fleet is currently the Scania 93M which is almost fully restored and a homage to their first ever lorry.
“We have a 93M Scania here, a 1989 one which is a sister truck to the original truck that we had. It is three-quarters of the way complete now.” Laurence noted.
Other notable additions to the fleet in recent years was an R730 Scania purchased two years ago, while they also recently added four new trucks to their ranks.
“We bought an R730 Scania a few years ago and that would be the real flagship…We just bought four new S52O’s last week.” Laurence explained to That’sFarming.
“They are all really nice trucks, but the one that would have the most standing around here would be the 93M.” he continued.
Make - Scania
Model - 93M
Year - 1989
HP - 230
O’Toole transport Ltd can also lay the claim of being one of Ireland’s first BRC Accredited logistics company, having achieved this in 2012. Not only this but in 2015 the company was rewarded for almost two decades of hard work, taking home the 2015 Fleet Transport Irish Haulier of The Year for their efforts in 2014.
“We were one of the first company’s in Ireland to become BRC Accredited, if not the first. That was back in 2012 we got that.” Laurence explained.
Future of O’Toole Transport -
In the short term, O’Toole Transport Ltd will look to continue their rapid progression to date and have big plans a foot for the coming 12-months, with the construction of a new Depot in Dublin due to commence very shortly.
“We bought an 8-acre site in Blanchardstown in Dublin. We are going starting the groundworks in October/November.” said Laurence.
In the long term, the future looks rosy for O’Toole transport Ltd, with yet another family member harbouring hopes of working within the company. Laurence’s son, Ryan, is currently training as a Scania mechanic in his home county, meaning he will likely join the team at some stage.
“He is training as a Scania mechanic now in Galway with Mike Kelly Commercials...He is here at the weekends.” Laurence said.
A company dedicated to providing the best quality service to their long-standing customers as is physically possible, this will remain the main aim of O’Toole transport Ltd for the coming years and will surely push them onto even greater heights.
“If we can maintain our standards and keep our word with our customers, then I don’t see any reason why we cannot continue to grow.” Laurence stated.
“We have no huge plans for expansion, but to keep going as we are going.” Laurence continued.
Trucks-wise, Laurence notes that it is inevitable that they will hit the magic 100 mark when it comes to trucks within their company, though it is not their main focus for the coming months.
“It will happen eventually I am sure.” He said.
What drives Laurence and the family forward-
Laurence admits that he is “driven by a job done right”, which is one of the many contributing factors to how O’Toole Transport Ltd have progressed so rapidly to date.
He also noted the source of pride in seeing one of the company’s trucks, donning the family name, on the road as another contributing factor to his love for the industry.
“You get enjoyment out of the whole job when it is running well, but particularly we get great enjoyment out of knowing that we are building and growing something that will, please God, be there for many years to come in the West of Ireland.” He said.
Flying the flag for Connacht and the Tribesman county, Laurence and his father Larry epitomise what the haulage industry is all about. Hardworking, dedicated and determined to fulfil their goals whilst never forgetting their roots, a true group of hauliers in the heart of Connacht, O'Toole Transport Ltd.
You can follow the progression of O’Toole Transport Ltd via their Facebook page here.