Fast-growing builders’ merchant Huws Gray has acquired its first new FUSO Canter – but colleagues at the branch to which it has been assigned were already familiar with the product, and the attributes that make it ideally suited to operation in their beautiful part of the world.

The popular Canter light truck range is exclusively sold and supported in Britain by Mercedes-Benz Dealers. Huws Gray’s new 7.5-tonner was supplied from stock by Ciceley Commercials, which represents the three-pointed star in Lancashire, Cumbria, south-west Scotland, and parts of Greater Manchester.

A 7C15 model, it has a Comfort day cab with roof-mounted beacon, and a fuel-efficient, 3.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel which produces 110 kW (150 hp) while offering an impressive 370 Nm of torque over a broad engine speed range. The truck also came with an engine brake as standard, and is fitted with a 13 ft tipping body with dropsides, by Fitzgeralds Vehicle Works, of Skelmersdale.

Established with a single branch on Anglesey in 1990, Huws Gray has grown to become one of the largest independent builders’ merchants in the UK. It now operates from more than 60 locations across the north-west and midlands.

The new Canter is based at the branch in Penrith, Cumbria, which became the latest addition to the Huws Gray network last April. With its acquisition of the former Penrith Building Supplies, the company inherited a couple of Canters, a 7.5-tonner and a 3.5-tonner. Both had provided outstanding service, but after five years the larger of the two was showing signs of the tough life it had led.

Ciceley Commercials took back this vehicle in part-exchange against the new Canter, which is smartly finished in Huws Gray’s livery. As the principal builders’ merchant in the area, the Penrith team cover the entire Lake District, and deliver as far south as Lancaster.

Sturdily built around a ladder frame chassis, the FUSO Canter has earned a reputation for strength and durability. It is also compact and light in weight, and offers a market-leading payload of up to a tonne more than a conventional 7.5-tonner – although its tipping body is fabricated from steel rather than aluminium, Huws Gray’s new truck will carry an outstanding 3,800 kg.

The Canter’s rugged build quality, coupled with its small footprint and a cab-over-engine design that gives it an extremely tight turning circle, make the vehicle ideally suited to work on narrow lanes and rough farm tracks.

Kevin Dudson, who manages Huws Gray’s branch on Penrith’s Gilwilly Industrial Estate, commented: “The new Canter is flat out, six days a week, delivering anything from loose aggregates to plasterboard on pallets, and other products from our extensive range.

“It’s a hard job, given that we’re operating in such a demanding rural area – we take full advantage of the available payloads and our trucks get plenty of hammer. But experience has proved that our Canters are more than up to the task.

“They’re extremely reliable, and we’ve suffered very little in the way of unplanned downtime, which is important given the delivery commitments we make to our customers. We certainly don’t get any complaints about them from the drivers, either.”

Mr Dudson continued:

“Good though it had been our previous 7.5-tonner was nearing the end of its life, so we were delighted when we learned that the company would be replacing it on a like-for-life basis with another Canter. The new truck looks great, too, but it’s only one of a number of examples of money that’s been injected into this branch since our acquisition by Huws Gray, which helps to explain why everyone here is very upbeat about the future.”

Huws Gray operates from headquarters in Llangefni, Anglesey, and strives to provide builders and DIY customers with a ‘on-stop shop’ service covering “all the bases”, from below-ground drainage products, to bricks and blocks, doors, windows and roofing materials.

Transport Manager Mike Cholomondley added: “We’d not purchased a FUSO Canter previously, but Ciceley’s sales executive Brian Moyle had been ‘knocking my door’ for a while. So when the opportunity arose to update the vehicle which had been in operation at our new Penrith branch we decided to give the Dealer an opportunity to show what it can do.

“We’ll be monitoring the truck’s performance and Ciceley’s back-up closely over the coming months, but it’s fair to say that first impressions are very positive.”