Episode 21

Moving Matters with Richard Webster of Tonks Removals


May 13th, 2021

54 mins 1 sec

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode

In this episode Richard Webster, Director of Tonks Removals, discusses how he became involved in the industry some 30 years ago, as a porter on the trucks straight after leaving school at the tender age of 15!

We discover that Tonks Removals was formed by the Tonks family in Scarborough back in 1820 and today celebrates its 201st year in business. Tonks Removals was put up for sale in 1995 by then owner Nigel Tonks, and Richard (20) together with his brother James (22) purchased the business for the princely sum of £8,000, with the assets consisting of a Bedford truck, the goodwill, the equipment, and the storage, which had to be relocated from its existing old school depository.

We discuss that there are no set roles within Tonks Removals for Richard or James, however James is more on the trucks while Richard is more office based, but they both like to get away on jobs when they can.

We discover that the challenges Richard has had to overcome were the lack of money, as the industry is a high-cost industry but not a high margin one, and being taken seriously at such a young age, but the biggest challenge was learning how to run a business.

We discuss that even though Richard cannot change anything from his past, however, if he could it would be to realise what the actual costs are to operate your business, know your costs and stop subsidising others who waltz off with the profit!

We discover that Richard’s high point of being in the industry in terms of the business was purchasing land to build their own facility in Carnaby, a mere 8 years ago, and as a person it is having the respect of others which he has earned and worked for.

We discuss that Richard would change a few things within the industry but the main one being the public perception of our industry (again!), which has changed in recent months, but he can see it reverting in due course. And I raise the question of whether the general public’s perception is that it’s not seen as skilled labour (which of course it is!) and discuss this further with Richard.

We discover that Richard uses demountable bodies (19 at the time of recording), as well as fixed bodied truck, but the demountable bodies offer the convenience of access issues, short term storage and cost implications for replacement of trucks.

We discuss that the advice Richard would give to a younger self and it would be to know your costings and not to be afraid to market yourself at the better end of the market.

We discover that in the next 5 years Richard sees the niche corporate moving in and out of Europe getting smaller and smaller with company mergers and acquisitions, plus the realisation that people can successfully work remotely, but he sees no change in the domestic moving industry.

We discuss how imports and exports since Brexit has affected business and Richard states that it is getting easier as the guidance, systems and knowledge base improves, and it is better as a lot of movers have pulled out of the European market and therefore sees relocation prices rising.

We discover that Tonks Removals are not members of the BAR, and Richard explains his reasons for this, but he and James have discussed applying once again.

We discuss that outside of the industry Richard tends to sleep a lot! He has started doing a lot more walking with his wife, he is a keen motorsport fan due to his love for driving, and he is actively involved in the parish council.

And as always we end Moving Matters with a couple of funny moving stories, a potentially X-rated one involving the client, the crew and a hot-tub, one involving Richard and an obnoxious customer, and a couple of short tales involving digging up a dead cat, and a terminally ill dog.


Links to Tonks Removals: