David Darras and his impressively equipped Actros 1851
Vehicle & Technology
David Darras drives an impressively equipped Actros 1851 with tipper semitrailer for the company which his father and uncle run. On Saturdays, he swaps one steering wheel for another.
As yellow as a canary: David Darras' tipper combination. The Actros 1851 tractor unit isn't just brand new – just like the tipper semitrailer, incidentally – but it is also fitted with several stylish extras. A simple glance is all it takes to notice the rows of additional headlights above the windscreen and bumper, the horns on both sides of the cab roof and the decorative bars under the cab panelling which are fitted with a number small lights. It's a true driver's dream.
Keeping it in the family: David Darras is the son of one of the two directors from Carrières Darras, Dusautoir et Fils, where the 25-year-old transports sand and gravel. "Because of that, more is expected of me than the other drivers employed here", he says somewhat apologetically. That also means working on Saturdays.
Even on Saturdays people need concrete.
He leaves his attractive tipper combination in the works yard on Saturdays and gets behind the wheel of one of the company's eleven cement mixers – after all, concrete is the bread and butter work of the company.
On Saturdays, deliveries are predominantly to private customers. For DIY home-builders who carry out a lot of the work themselves, it's a great advantage that they don't have to take a day off from work just because the floors or other concrete elements are due to be cast. "This type of service allows us to position ourselves better alongside the big construction companies and concrete manufacturers", confirms David's Uncle Bruno.
Concrete has been produced on the company's premises since 1999, with 25,000 cubic metres now being produced every year. For big orders or for times when the company is intensely active at building sites, they even have a second concrete production plant. Accordingly, the firm can flexibly expand their capacity to suit the customer's requirements. Flexibility is guaranteed because the company doesn't just transport concrete in its trucks, it also uses them to procure the necessary raw materials. To this end, the company fleet has three tipper combinations, including the Actros 1851 driven by David.
Lots of work and great fun.
The gravel and sand pits are nearby, but the raw materials for manufacturing concrete are sometimes also loaded at the port of Calais. That means that David is only ever in a 50-kilometre radius from the company's facilities. Even though the original chalk mine of the Darras brothers – whose name incidentally forms part of the company name – lies somewhat lost in the Parc naturel régional des Caps et Marais d'Opale, the most important industrial centres of the region are close by. "We're about 10 kilometres from Saint-Omer, 30 kilometres from Calais, 35 kilometres from Dunkirk and 40 kilometres from Boulogne-sur-Mer", explains David.
Since learning to be a professional truck driver, he has been behind the wheel for the family-run business for six years now. "I love trucks and I love my job", says David. Since his 14th birthday, he's always provided a helping hand: "At the time, when I came back from school, I used to help clean the concrete production plant and the cement mixers instead of doing my homework. Well, someone had to do it!" By comparison, his current work with the tipper combination and even with the cement mixer seems like child's play, despite the long working days and the packed 6-day working week. But it's right up David's street: "For me it's not about long distances, it's the driving itself that I love."
Photos: Hans Müller