3 years ago, while setting my new year resolutions, I figured I would surprise my dad (former truck driver, before starting the family company) with getting my truck driving license and work as a driver for our company for a few weeks.
Immediately after starting the courses I noticed it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. To get both the license and the driver’s diploma, a total of 200 hours of schooling was required. This had to be done in weekends as they work only office hours. Not giving up, I decided not to rush and take my time to stay motivated.
3 years later all the exams were passed and documents created. Next step, create an alias. First decision was to ‘obtain’ the Hungarian nationality to make sure nobody in our office would speak the language and I could speak English. Next step, the name. After googling found the first name of Branko and after watching North-Macedonia play on the Euro championship decided to take their defenders last name, Ristovski. Last step, document the alias. Via the backdoor I linked my driver card etc. to the name of Branko Ristovksi, with the help of HR to make sure somebody would give green light on this driver, to make sure they wouldn’t catch the missing passport etc.
I went to one of our home bases to pick up a truck in the middle of the night to make sure none of my colleagues noticed that Branko Ristovski was actually Sjef. After taking the truck I spend the first night in my new home for the next 10 days. As I took one of our oldest trucks, I wasn’t able to stand up straight for 100%; it’s good that currently we are adding only the biggest cabins to our fleet. The bed was more comfortable than expected. After 9 hours break (legally required), I started my first journey. My dispatcher send Branko to Rotterdam to pick up a trailer in the docks. Arriving in the afternoon it was around 32 degrees, so when connecting the trailer to the truck I had a tough time. As it was the 2nd time in my life I was doing this, I needed around 2 hours to make sure everything was okay. Then I started to drive towards my unload place in Germany for the next day. Parked in Venlo on the day that the Netherlands was playing Austria, so together with other drivers I watched the match.
In the morning I had the first unload. When arriving at the address I had to open the side of the trailer. After quickly watching some Youtube movies & calling a friend who knows, I was finally able to open the trailer. Wearing a mask due to the corona virus, and a cap & glasses to stay unrecognizable, it was quite warm again with the physical labor. My respect was growing for the drivers who are doing this in just a few minutes and without breaking a sweat. I was feeling like competing in the Olympics. After finishing the unload I went on to load close-by. There I experienced personally a real problem in logistics, waiting 4 hours to load and once started in 10 minutes it was fully done. Again opening & closing the curtains and putting straps on the load to secure the cargo in 34 degrees stretched my physique. The goods I loaded were to unload in the United Kingdom, so I started my journey towards France, to cross the channel.
Checking the navigation and my legally allowed driving time, I figured I would make it exactly to Duinkerke to the ferry terminal, taking the Antwerp traffic into account. 3 minutes before the end of my working time I arrived at the parking. Proud as a peacock that I made it, it took me 20 minutes to park the truck. So after all extremely disappointed to have exceeded my working time by 17 minutes…
In the morning I took the ferry, on which, they served an excellent English breakfast. I wanted to buy a Twix, however didn’t have any pounds. Had the brilliant idea to put 10 euro in gambling machine and pay out directly. When it paid out 5 pounds and I was waiting for the rest, I noted the sign that euro vs pound exchange rate is 2>1. After all it was an expensive Twix…
Driving out of the ferry was really exciting. Dover is in between some mountains so you immediately have to drive upwards, and on the left of course. Lucky thing is that I was at the back of the ferry, so I could simply follow the other trucks. The further I drove towards my weekend break location, the less trucks on the road on a Saturday. It became more difficult on cross-roads when there we no other road-users to guide the way. Once arrived, I started my weekend break, to start to unload on Monday morning again. This time parked front faced, to not again break the working time regulation. Other driver really looked strange, as I was the only one parked like that on the whole parking… Then Sunday was a laundry day.
The unload was in Corby, so the Immingham stop was a detour of around 300 KM. It was done for a meeting on Sunday, but when the dispatcher asked on Monday why Branko was wasting 300 kilometers and thus diesel & rubber, Branko answered that he went there to watch the match of Hungary vs. France in a nice pub. As you can imagine the dispatcher went crazy and the whole office started to notice the first signals of Branko Ristovski. Not knowing how to protect the batteries of a truck, during my weekend break I emptied them. So on Monday morning I wasn’t able to start the truck towards the unload.
In the friendly world of drivers, I was able to have 2 colleague-drivers helping me out to jumpstart my truck and continue the way.
As an unexperienced driver I was getting more and more comfortable. However one moment of not paying enough attention that I was driving a 16,5 meter truck and when I took a too sharp corner I damaged the curtain of the trailer at 2 spots. What a shame that within 10 days driving I actually created damage. As a consequence my respect for the driving abilities for guys driving year in year out without damage was continuously growing.
After continuing my job in the UK, I noticed some small issues like taking a ticket in the docks on the other side of the truck and the fact that in the UK they don’t have MEGA trucks, so the trailer legs are set to high in the ports. When I received an order to unload in Tesco distribution center in Wales, my dispatcher instructed me very clear that I cannot be later then 09.00 sharp. They had a very lean and mean operations so timing was crucial. I arrived 08.50h so all was going fine. However as I was approaching the reception desk, all alarms went off. People were running outside from the warehouse and around a 1.000 people were gathering on the parking at the evacuation points. Once it appeared to be a fire drill everybody was going back in and I could go to report. At that moment I was 40 minutes late, and the very helpful reception clerk wasn’t able to adjust the system. Ashamed that I was late in the system, I unloaded and continued the journey. In the evening I wasn’t able to find a nice parking and parked on the street in an industrial zone. Before going to sleep, decided to watch a movie. After finishing the action/hacker movie, when closing my curtains I saw a car in front of my truck. 2 guys hanging around the car didn’t make me feel comfortable. When sitting down on the bed in the truck, the alarm lights starting to go off. Quite panicking wondering if my truck was hacked I pushed all the buttons but they lights didn’t go off yet, on the remote of the truck I also pushed the button but nothing happened for a few seconds. Then somehow the doors unlocked… Getting into some real panic now, I locked the doors again by hand and started the truck. Finally the alarm lights went off and I drove away. When driving & calming down I realized that when sitting down I probably pushed the light check button on the remote, and when trying to turn it off I pushed the button again to continue the lights for 10 seconds more. When pushing all the buttons I most likely also hit the unlock button on the remote, explaining that part. Anyway, found another street to park and go to sleep with a mind at ease. What an evening….
When leaving the UK and heading back to Germany, I wanted to go by Eurotunnel instead of Ferry to experience all the different options. However my dispatcher and the nightshift didn’t want to make a booking as they wanted to save costs and send me via the ferry as I wasn’t in a big hurry. Once I boarded the train anyway, they were really puzzled how Branko did it. Not knowing that I also had the login codes to the booking portal myself.
On the way from the loading place in the UK to the unload location in Germany in drove by 4 different race tracks. First Silverstone, then Spa, then Hockenheim, then Nurburgring. Driving through the Ardennes there were several really nice views. I had a really proud moment in Belgium when refueling. From the highway I could see that there were 5 trucks at the gas station. When coming closer, I would see that 4 of them where Boekestijn Transport trucks. So I put my cap, mask & glasses on again, to stay incognito till the end.
After unloading & reloading in Germany I drove back to NL and left the truck for my colleague to continue on the road again. In the morning I surprised Peter when arriving in a truck and telling him the story of Branko Ristovski. First amazing reactions where coming in when we were heading to the company BBQ at our new, under construction, location in Poland. During the speech part of the evening and handing out our Piet Boekestijn Sr. Awards (awards for colleagues graduating studies while working) we told to all the office colleagues that there was a special guest tonight: Branko Ristovski. Everybody started laughing already a bit, because they know he was a remarkable driver. I (Sjef) went outside to get him in, quickly I put on my disguise again, and went back showing that I was Branko Ristovski. Everybody needed a few seconds to process it and they really started laughing. Especially the colleagues who had been quite tough to me. It was a great way to reveal to surprise and have a nice laugh while sharing the stories. Let’s see when Branko, or his cousin, will show up again.
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“The New Year Conference on Transport and Logistics Poland was the setting for the award handover: “For the benefit of Polish transport”.
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All high value loads are transported under strict internal policies. It is standard working practice to have panic buttons, electro locking systems on our trailers, motion sensors, acoustic alarms, predefined routing and in-house 24/7 monitoring.
Multi Temperature means that you can divide your loading space into several temperature compartments with a different temperature range in each part - For example: The first half of the trailer is set up for 2-8 degrees, we put a wall in between, so the other half can be set up for 15-25 degrees
Yes, our drivers follow annual ADR training and our entire fleet is also equipped with the latest up-to-date ADR equipment
Boekestijn control tower is in operation 24/7 and is located in Poznan PL. The main language we use is English but our colleagues can speak various languages such as FR, DE, ESP, RU,UA.
Office employees as well as our drivers are obliged to have GDP training annually. This falls under the control of our Boekestijn Quality department and we use a Learning Management System.
We operate Double Teams in order to make our transit time shorter and to ensure the highest security standards. If the drivers need to take a break, approved secure parking is used.