Watertight switches to Mercedes-Benz vans

Specialist infrastructure and road management firm Watertight Management has switched to Mercedes-Benz vans from its previous supplier – thanks in part to a chance encounter at a service station.

Bromsgrove-based Watertight Management has recently taken delivery of eight Sprinters from dealer Midlands Truck & Van. All are medium-length 316 CDI L2 models with fuel-efficient 163hp engines that drive the rear wheels.

Six of the Sprinters are high-roofed H2 panel vans, which were racked out to carry tools and fittings by Vantage VC, of Telford. The remaining two are chassis cabs with bodies by Ingimex, also of Telford – one a dropsider, the other a tipper.

But this may never have happened had co-proprietor Tom Collings not spotted a Sprinter at a service station: “A brand new Sprinter pulled onto the forecourt and as he stepped out to refuel I asked the driver what he thought of it. His reply was, ‘Perfect, they always are!’ He went on to tell me that in 20 years he’d never had a single breakdown.

“We’d already researched the market, tried a Sprinter demonstrator, and received positive feedback from other operators, so were inclining towards Mercedes-Benz anyway. That guy’s wholehearted endorsement of the product convinced us to go ahead and place our order.”

Established in 2010 by Collings and his business partner Paul Castle, Watertight Management is a specialist contractor providing a wide range of clean and wastewater infrastructure services and road surfacing. Its customers include utilities companies, the Ministry of Defence, and local authorities, as well as commercial concerns and domestic users.

Watertight Management resolved to move to another manufacturer after its vans were beset by a series of engine failures, and it was left ‘high and dry’ by its supplier. It retains a number of these vehicles but plans to replace them with more Sprinters.

“Our vans are heavily modified for the job,” continued Collings. “We need them to be up and running, because a rental replacement for a vehicle which is off the road is not an option.”

He added that the Sprinter’s reputation for reliability, the round-the-clock back-up provided by Mercedes-Benz Dealers, array of accident prevention technology and comfort were key factors in purchasing the Sprinters.

Collings added that “one or two” of the drivers had initial reservations about switching to the Sprinters. “The doubters were quickly won over, though, and they all want a Sprinter now.”

The Mercedes-Benz also has a larger towing capability than the previous vehicles – 7 tonne gross train weight compared to 6.3. Watertight Management regularly uses its vans to pull trailers which carry equipment and plant, including excavators. The extra capacity means they don’t have the hassle of removing kit when towing heavy directional drilling rigs, which they had to previously, Collings said.

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Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a freelance journalist and former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK's biggest selling truck magazine. He writes for both The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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