Born and raised near Gaile, Thurles in the Stone Throwers county that is Tipperary, Paudie Flanagan has a heritage steeped in the agricultural industry.
The agricultural influence comes in the shape of Paudie’s three uncles, Michael, Tom and Bill, who all ran their own farming enterprises and still do to this day. This is why Paudie developed an interest in agriculture from a young age and many days of his youth were spent on the farm alongside either of his three uncles.
“My three uncles were farmers…Since I could walk, I was up on the farm with them.” Paudie told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“I always liked farming.” He added.
One of his uncles ran a dairy farm, whilst the other two both kept dry stock on their enterprises running bull to beef systems, with Paudie helping out whenever possible.
“Anytime they were at silage or anything, I used to get a day off school.” Paudie chuckled.
“All I ever wanted was tractors really.”
Unlike his brothers, Paudie’s father, Johnny Flanagan, steered clear of livestock farming, instead training as a butcher.
“My father never bothered (with farming). He is a qualified butcher.” Paudie said.
“Back when he could do it, he went around to people’s farms and slaughtered their animals for them.”
Paudie’s journey so far -
Upon finishing school, Paudie was determined to work with machinery in some way, shape or form.
This led to the Tipperary man taking on an apprenticeship as a Refrigeration Engineer alongside his brother. This wasn’t to last long, however, as the call of the lorries proved too strong for the now 37-year-old, Paudie.
“I left school and went to try an apprenticeship as a refrigeration engineer with my brother, with BRS refrigeration, fitting bulk tanks around farmyards and that,” Paudie said.
“But, it just wasn’t for me, I am a steering wheel man at heart. It was always tractors and machinery, that I wanted,” Paudie laughed.
This led to Paudie making his first-ever machinery purchase, a JCB 3CX, at the tender age of 19. This was primarily used for work on local farms, carrying out yard work and other jobs such as land drainage.
“I bought a JCB 3CX as my first purchase when I was 19,” said the haulier.
“I was doing a bit of work for farmers, getting yards ready and doing a bit of drainage and that.” He continued.
Paudie spent only six months working on his own right before he took over the running of his brother-in-law’s farm for a period of twelve months. He took on this role as his brother-in-law injured is back and upon his recovery, a job came up in Gleeson’s Quarries in Killenaule, much to the delight of Paudie. He actually obtained his licences through his work with Gleeson’s upon taking on the new role.
“Just as my brother-in-law Pat was getting back onto his feet, a job came up in Gleeson Quarries as a General Operative.” Paudi said.
“I then went for an interview and I got it. I was driving the loading shovels and the track machines in the yard for two years,” he adds.
Little did Paudie know at the time of joining the team of Gleeson's, but after two years working as a General Operative the opportunity came up to buy his own lorry (Volvo FM9 340) at the age of 22, one he grabbed with both hands.
“Then an opportunity came up to by a lorry, so I bought my first one in 2004 when I was 22.” The Tipperary man said.
This led to the Gaile man officially commencing his career with Gleeson’s on an owner-driver basis and he has now been there for 15 years this year.
“I am there ever since.” The haulier said.
“I will be at it 15 years on the 26th of March this year,” He laughed.
Paudi says he has a lot to thank for the start he made in the industry, no more so than a good friend, Conor Spillane, who also worked as a driver with Gleeson’s when Paudie made began working there. Conor thought him all he needed to know and also showed him the ropes in terms of running his own haulage company, something Paudie is eternally grateful for.
“He gave me great advice and he showed me his accounts and stuff and because of that I got started in it.” Paudie.
“My mother and father as well. They were a great support as well…It is great to have support from people like that. They support and encourage you and that makes it so much easier. Without that, you wouldn’t do it.”
Paudie officially registered as a limited company just last year and he couldn’t be happier.
Team/Services/Role and history of Gleeson’s Quarries -
Founded in 1987, Gleeson Quarries have been on the move for over thirty years, operating out of Laffansbridge near Killenaule in Co. Tipperary.
The team specialize in ready-mix concrete, crushed limestone, granular fill, Agricultural lime, washed sand and gravel. At the moment, there is currently a team of approximately 11 drivers, with a further five employed as part of the owner-driver scheme. There is approximately 40 staff working with Gleeson's in total.
“There are three owner-drivers on the concrete end of it, there are two owner-drivers on the tippers and then they (Gleeson’s) have seven of their own mixers, three of his own tippers and a block lorry.” Paudi noted.
Paudie’s role within Gleeson’s is that of a contract driver, operating with the one truck, a mixer. This means Paudie mainly deals with ready-mix concrete deliveries. His travels have him mainly based down south, covering South Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny and parts of North Cork.
“It is mainly South Tipperary,” he said.
After purchasing his maiden lorry fourteen years ago, Paudi has progressed significantly ever since and now takes a place behind the wheel of a Volvo, FM 460.
Model: FM 460
“It is a 10x4, five-axle.” Paudie explained.
Paudie’s hopes for the future -
In terms of the future, Paudie is more than content with the progress made in recent years and has no plan to shake things up anytime soon.
“Back in the boom I was thinking of buying another lorry, but I got loads of advice to either buy fifty or stick with the one, There’s no in-between.” He said.
“I am happy enough the way I am going. I like the one lorry and I have nobody else to be looking after. I can just work away myself.” he added.
An avid fan of truck shows, one thing that is guaranteed in 2019, is Paudie’s continuous attendance. In fact, he actually took home three awards at the 2017 Ossory Truck show Rathdowney, taking home the prize for the best Reserve truck at the show, the best new rigid and the top prize for best overall rigid.
“Back in 2014 I was brought up to the Mondello truck show and I just got the bug after that.” The Tipperary man explained.
“I love going to shows now, meeting people with the same interests as I have...I won three trophies at the Ossory truck show in 2017,” He added.
Paudie’s youngest daughter, Nicole (6), is another Flanagan who holds an interest in trucks and she loves nothing more than taking a spin with her father on the weekends. Who knows, she may even take over from her father at some stage in the future. Either way, Paudie doesn’t mind.
“Maybe she will take it on and if she doesn’t it won’t bother me.” Paudie said.
“She can have it if she wants, I don’t mind,” he chuckled.
Why Haulage -
A man who simply loves the road and the outdoors, there is simply no other career that Paudi would ever consider.
“I’m an outdoors person and I always was.” He said.
“That’s why the apprenticeship didn’t suit me because I was stuck inside in a shed all day.” He added.
Other factors behind Paudi’s grá for the sector is the people he meets and places he gets to see.
“It’s just nice to be out and about.” He told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“90% of our work is farm-based, so I am out meeting farmers and people I grew up with all along. Without a doubt I am happiest when I am in around cow shit,” Paudie laughed.
Paudie admits that the main thing keeping him behind the wheel, is his wife (Amanda) and two daughters, Katie and Nicole.
“My wife and two kids” Paudie replied when asked what keeps him behind the wheel.
“They are what gets me up out of bed in the morning. Everything I do is for them.” He reiterated.
Paudie said he wouldn't be able to fulfill his dream of driving a truck, were it not for the constant support of his wife Amanda, who not only looks after the kids, but also works full-time and looks after the books of Paudie's business.
"Behind every good man is a great woman. Because of the long and unpredictable hours in Haulage, it is important to have the support of a good woman." Paudie said.
"She (Amanda) can’t really plan a gym session or classes because she never knows when I’ll be home. The collecting of kids and bringing them to athletics and camogie training is all left to her and she still works full time. She also took on the role of the secretary of the Limited company as well, helping me with my accounts." he added.
Passionate, hardworking and as dedicated to the industry as any other haulier, father of two, Mr. Paudie Flanagan.
Are you working within the haulage sector like Paudie? Would you like to share your story and be featured in our “All Things Haulage” series? If this sounds like you, contact Kevin with a short bio via email on firstname.lastname@example.org