At 24-7 Staffing we love to focus on candidate success stories and one such is Steve Baker.
We first met Steve when he signed with us as a temp driver in 2013, and went to work with our client Wessex Water, later landing a permanent position with the company. In fact, we keep in touch with Steve because we supply him drivers!
Steve has a long-standing career in transport, and he joined us when he decided to get back on the road and take a break from his role of training drivers and teaching compliance to operators.
We grabbed a short interview with Steve and asked him a few questions about his driving career.
How did you get into driving?
I became a driver when I left the RAF in 1975, took my test in 1976 and I went straight into the transport industry.
I have had my own trucks and driving businesses pulling low loaders, flat beds, abnormal loads, fridges, tankers and much more. In fact, along the way I have also had a couple of pubs and a truck stop which was also my operating centre for my transport business. Cut me in half and I bleed diesel!
In the RAF I worked for military air traffic control services at airfield control towers finishing at the London Air Traffic Control Centre. As well as the routine air traffic control duties there, I was fortunate at that time to be involved in the numerous Concorde prototype flights down to the Bay of Biscay in the early flight testing years, they were interesting times. It was always my intention to go into transport after the RAF but decided to change from aviation and focus on road transport.
Why did you move on from training?
I had worked in driver training instructing both C and CE courses together with DCPCQ and the young driver apprenticeship scheme. I had become disillusioned with the format as I didn’t really feel that the syllabus for the apprenticeships was sufficient and was having to introduce extra training to ensure that the candidates were armed with sufficient knowledge to take them into their transport careers.
At this point, I thought that I would go back to the sharp end, so I left the training company and decided have a two year gap and go back on the road before resuming my training and consultancy role, and the easiest way would be to go through agencies. My intention was to do four six month stints in four different transport areas.
I started with six months driving for Asda on fridges, then saw the 24-7 Staffing advert for a four on, four off role with Wessex Water. In one of my previous jobs I had driven a tanker hauling sewage, so I really fancied it.
I went up to Yate, had the interview, did the induction – put them right on one or two questions in their induction! – and I got the job.
That was 2013. As planned, I thought I would do this for six months, but they were such a terrific team at 24-7 Staffing and at Wessex Water that I never left. I had planned to go back into compliance and training, with my up-to-date on the wheels experience, but of course that went out the window.
How did you move from temp to perm?
An opportunity came up in 2014 with Wessex Water for a permanent role for a driver and driver trainer/assessor, which of course is work that I had already done. I still did some driving, but also assessments for drivers across the area. I also got to work on some interesting projects, which I loved – I do like to get my teeth into something.
I did this up until 2018, when an opportunity arose to run the tankering operation for Wessex Water at Hinkley Point. As a qualified transport manager, I was keen for the challenge and so I set up the transport operation and we tankered like there was no tomorrow!
Then in June 2019, there was a vacancy in Wessex Water for a northern area sludge logistics controller. I have never shied away from a challenge and firmly believe that you should always keep pushing yourself forward, so I thought I would apply for this position and was very fortunate to be awarded the job!.
I very rarely do any driving now. In fact, I haven’t turned a wheel since the Glastonbury Festival a couple of years ago – that’s a fun job to do. I have been driving now for 45 years, so this job will hopefully see me out until I retire.
What’s your most memorable driving job?
In the early days of my transport career, I was tasked to pick up a load of chipboard from South Molton and it had to be in Glasgow for 8am the next day. There were no fast motorways north of Carlisle then, so the old Leyland Buffalo had her work cut out as she negotiated the likes of Shap etc to get to the destination.
I did it, I got there the next morning on time, and felt that I had really done a good job. I found the place, and there were forklifts there ready to take the board off. I then found that half of the load was going straight onto another lorry. I assumed it was going on into the Highlands or the Hebrides or somewhere further north and remote. Guess where it was going – back down to Bristol; you just have to love the middle-men!
Have you enjoyed your driving career?
I just love it. I love driving, and here we have such an amazing team. And we still work closely with 24-7 Staffing, because they supply us with drivers and are brilliant to work with. I speak to the 24-7 Staffing team regularly and they are lovely, lovely people.
And the 24-7 Staffing driver recruitment team would like to second that! We love working with Steve too.
If you are a driver and are looking for temp driving roles, please get in touch. We work with employers and jobseekers in Chippenham, Salisbury, Bristol, Wiltshire and the South West.