A&M Commercials is truly a family affair, with the initials of founders Assumpta and Michael McNally Snr being proudly kept in the brand.
At just 15, Michael McNally started out with a Ford D Series in 1980, hauling hay and straw for the local farmers. With a family background in agriculture and, hence, the contacts that went along with it, by 1983 he was able to trade up to a Scania 111, a rigid livestock truck that took him all over Ireland and which was joined by a 112 a few years later.
This continued until 1990, when McNally quit the cattle to go into refrigerated haulage as A&M Transport, selling both rigids to fund his first artic, a Scania 142 with a 40ft trailer. Business was good and he slowly added to the fleet so by 1995 he had eight lorries on the road, a mixture of 142s and 143s, whereupon he bought his first brand new trucks – six Scania 143s with the new Streamliner cabs – and fridges for them to pull.
Never one to rest on his laurels, in 1998 Michael McNally Snr started a new business alongside the transport, A&M Commercials, buying and selling new and used trucks and plant. The new venture was a roaring success, so much so that by 2001 he was too busy to run both concerns so he sold off the now 20 trucks and trailers and separately passed the contracts for work over to his then transport manager, who to this day still trades independently as A&M Logistics, with McNally himself as a sleeping partner.
It was at this time the first bonneted Scania was bought to pull a low loader for A&M Commercials, a 1998 T124 400 with a low-roof cab, and a company tradition of marking major events with a new flagship was born; the opening of a second site in Monaghan saw the first vehicle replaced with a 2001 T144 530 Topliner, then the addition of a UK division in 2005 saw that, in turn, upgraded to the 2002 T164 480 which preceded what we see today.
To keep the business in the family Michael McNally Jr. started work at just 16 as an apprentice under his father and company founder Michael McNally Snr, as did his twin brother Aiden who now looks after the Irish end of the business.
Since the transition, the business has had multiple successes, including owning the first ever right-hand drive Scania T730 not just in the UK, but in the world.
Michael Jr said: “2013 was our 30th anniversary year and we wanted something special to mark that.”
“Scania knew what we planned to do when we ordered the longer chassis,” says Michael. “They thought it was good, they’d never done anything like this before over here.” The engineering work was done by Dutch customisers Vlastuin Truck and Trailer Service, was started at their workshop in Renswoude (between Utrecht and Arnhem in the centre of Holland) in the first week of June 2014, and was completed just under two months later on 27th July.
The final result was a truly breathtaking record of the company’s 30 years in the business.
Now, A&M Commercials is going from strength to strength, with twin sons Michael Jnr and Aidan at the helm of the Warrington, County Armagh and County Managhan dealerships, eldest daughter Aileen working in Accounts, middle daughter Martina taking a hands-on approach in all aspects of the business and youngest daughter Monica helping out when not in school!
And it’s not just the McNally brothers that are breaking records. Whilst everyone in the McNally family old enough to hold an HGV licence does, as do most of the other staff, Martina is actually the youngest person ever to pass her test in the UK.
“I did my first test on my 18th birthday at 9am, so I couldn’t have been any younger! It took 10 days to get my upgraded licence back and I immediately booked my C+E test and passed first time,” she explains. “It was all a bit of a gamble really, it would’ve been awful if I’d failed on my birthday, but fortunately I didn’t so it ended well. Like all the others I’d been moving trucks about at home since I could reach the pedals, so we were pretty sure I could do it.”
It was Martina who had the first drive in the newly-airbrushed T730 as well, and not just down the road, she took it straight from Somerset to the Truckstar Festival at Assen in Holland, a fitting choice as she had a major role to play in the design of the artwork, and is now responsible for promoting A&M’s flagship to make sure it earns its metaphorical keep.
With 2018 set to be one of the firm’s best years on record, the family is confident it can generate further growth and cement A&M’s position as the ‘go-to’ choice for new and used commercial vehicles.