The Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Business have been named Category Winners of the Irish Van of the Year 2019 in association with Continental Tyres. The Irish Van of the Year awards are voted upon by a jury of Ireland’s most experienced light commercial vehicle journalists.
In deciding on these category winners, the Irish Van of the Year committee members took into account such attributes as load capacity, reliability, overall versatility, cost of ownership and driving comfort.
Presenting the awards to Jason Byrne of Mitsubishi Ireland, and Fergus Conheady, Mercedes-Benz Ireland; Tom Dennigan of awards sponsor Continental Tyres Ireland commented: “In today’s tough commercial vehicle market, these two vehicles have been singled out by the Irish Van of the Year experts. I am sure that these awards will be a huge bonus to the winning vehicles as we enter the 192 registration market.”
Anthony Conlon, Irish Van of the Year committee member, said: “In assessing candidates for the Irish Van of the Year category awards, our jurors pay close attention to how the vehicles meet the particular requirements of the Irish market – that is why these recommendations are so useful to Irish van / commercial drivers and fleet managers”.
Jarlath Sweeney, Irish Van of the Year committee member, added: “For both of these category awards, there was an extremely strong field of contenders and it is interesting to see the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Business come out on top – plug in hybrid vehicles and, indeed, full electric commercial vehicles are becoming more and more popular as they help companies and public bodies meet their commitments in relation to reducing emissions from their business fleets”.
The Commercial SUV and Pick Up of the Year titles are category awards under the umbrella of the annual Irish Van of the Year awards, in association with Continental Tyres. The overall Irish Van of the Year award for 2019 was won by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Group picture caption: Anthony Conlon, Irish Van of the Year Committee; Tom Dennigan, Continental Tyres Ireland; Fergus Conheady, Mercedes-Benz Ireland, Jarlath Sweeney, Irish Van of the Year Committee.
In our first edition of ‘The Sprinter: Making Christmas happen for 25 years’ we speak to Lorcan Murphy, Operations Manager at Caterway. Located in their new HQ in Blanchardstown, Dublin, after working two decades in the old Fruit & Vegetable market in Dublin City. Lorcan shares with us how the family business was formed, the importance of their relationship with Mercedes-Benz and how the Sprinter plays a crucial role in the lead up to their busy festive period.
Tell me about Caterway?
Caterway is a family owned & run business, delivering fresh fruit, vegetables and dry goods to over 300 catering and retail outlets. We’ve been in operation since 1988 when a merger took place between two family businesses’: Fitzpatrick’s Catering & Hanley’s. The two businesses had fruit & veg shops and had both been in operation since the 1950’s. We are still very much so a family business, with brothers from both the Fitzpatrick & Hanley families as directors.
We are based in Blanchardstown Corporate Park in Dublin for the past year and a half, in a purpose-built food building. Caterway employs 50-60 staff in total, many of whom have been with us for a long time.
We operate a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles with 16 Sprinters, 1 Vito & 1 Atego. We have been a Mercedes-Benz customer since 2001. 19 years later and we still love the Sprinter. When we started in 1998 we had first purchased another brand of vans, which we had a lot of problems with, especially with the sliding doors. Our vans don’t do a huge amount of mileage but they would get a lot of use with stop-start journeys all day long. Thankfully I have never had a problem with the Sprinter door since we have made the move to Mercedes-Benz!
How did your relationship with Mercedes-Benz begin?
Many years ago, I received a cold call from a Mercedes-Benz Dealership. When I was told that our companies ‘Orchard Green’ colour was available in the Sprinter model I knew they would be a great addition to our fleet. At the time we were spray painting our other vans and as I mentioned previously, I was sick to my teeth with the doors falling off the older vans. We then purchased 5 Sprinters straight away.
What attracted you to the Mercedes-Benz vehicles?
I liked the idea of having a premium brand van. We were a new business trying to establish ourselves, having a premium fleet of vehicles gave us a strong brand. We could also fit more pallets into the Sprinter than we could in competitor brands which was a huge benefit for us. Sprinter’s weren’t particularly well-known at the time so I liked that we had something different on the roads.
What is the most attractive thing about the Sprinter?
It would have to be its reliability – I’ve had no issues with it. The comfort too – its beautiful to drive, like driving a car. All of our drivers enjoy driving them, so much so that there are often arguments when an employee is on holidays because they all want to be driving the newest Sprinter with the latest reversing camera or multi-function steering wheel.
What is your most recent addition to your fleet?
We’ve been a Sprinter customer for 19 years now, with a selection of age Sprinter vans in our fleet. The newest edition being two 181’s, the ‘new’ Sprinter. We have tripled our fleet size in 20 years!
What are the most noticeable upgrades you have noticed in the Sprinter vans throughout the years?
The reversing cameras – these are a huge help around Dublin City Centre, where a lot of our deliveries take place. Our drivers could have up to 20 drops per run. These cameras are almost a necessity for our business now. The cab itself has also seen big changes throughout the year, the comfort & the multi-function steering wheel would be favourites of ours.
Is Christmas a busy period for Caterway?
Yes, Christmas season usually starts for us in the last weekend of November. We are a B2B only business so once the Christmas parties start, we are then busy for the whole month of December. We operate deliveries right up until Christmas Eve. We then close for 2 days before our busy New Years period begins. Our full fleet is in operation for the Christmas season.
Do you & your drivers enjoy working during this festive period?
Christmas is very stressful – we are dealing with fresh produce and last-minute orders from our customers.
Most of our employees enjoy working over Christmas time. They are out meeting different people throughout the days, most of which they have formed good relationships with. The drivers often get their Christmas hats on for our Christmas deliveries! ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ I always hate that song, because they start playing it from start of Dec and I listen to it every night on the way home from work. The only day I like it is when I am actually going home on Christmas Eve!
Is the Sprinter a Key Player in making Christmas happen for Caterway?
Absolutely – big time. We could not function without them during our Christmas period.