When Carl Benz built the world’s first automobile in 1886, Harveys had already been making beer for nearly a century. Now, to mark its 225th anniversary, the oldest independent brewer in Sussex has just commissioned its first Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle.
The new Sprinter van is based at the landmark brewery in Lewes that has been Harveys’ home since its foundation in 1790. It was supplied by local Dealer Rossetts Commercials and as well as delivering the brewer’s multi-award-winning real ales, is used by an engineer to maintain the company’s pub estate.
An eighth-generation family business, Harveys was crowned Brewery of the Year in the Good Pub Guide Awards 2016. Its flagship Sussex Best Bitter has been voted Champion Best Bitter of Britain for two consecutive years, while Harveys has also scooped 23 world beer awards since 2010 and 29 international beer challenge awards since 2009, and its Imperial Extra Double Stout won its 16th award in 16 years at this year’s World Beer Awards.
It is a record of success mirrored in its own industry sector by the all-conquering Sprinter, which recently won three more trophies – including the most coveted Commercial Vehicle of the Year accolade – at the Commercial Fleet Awards 2015.
The Sprinter was launched in 1995 and Mercedes-Benz is this year celebrating its 20th anniversary. Firmly established as the fleet favourite of many of the biggest operators on Britain’s roads, the fuel-efficient 3.0-5.0-tonne gvw range is available in a wide range of sizes and specifications.
Harveys’ new 3.5-tonne Sprinter 313 CDI Long is powered by a fuel-efficient 129 hp engine and as well as offering a comfortable, car-like driving experience, is equipped with a market-leading armoury of active and passive safety features.
Although it is the brewer’s first Mercedes-Benz vehicle, Transport Manager Bob Sawyer, who joined the company in 2012 having worked previously for former drinks distributor Waverley TBS, has long experience of operating vehicles bearing the three-pointed star.
“This won’t necessarily remain the case but Harveys has traditionally run its trucks and vans for a considerable number of years,” he said. “I know that Mercedes-Benz vehicles can be relied upon to stand the test of time – they’re built to a very high standard and, as a result, are exceptionally reliable.”
Harveys operates a mixed-marque fleet of half a dozen trucks of various sizes, and eight vans, which it relies upon to deliver its carefully crafted regular and seasonal ales to the 48 pubs which it owns, and to well over 500 other outlets. It has also just ordered its first Mercedes-Benz truck, a 9.0-tonne Atego, from Rossetts Commercials.
Harveys maintains its vehicles in-house but the Dealer will supply parts and has also undertaken to provide its mechanic with training and specialist equipment.
“We’re very much a local brewery,” said Bob Sawyer. “Our hops come from Sussex, Kent and Surrey and the ‘spent hops’ find their way back to the land as fertiliser, while our ‘spent grains’ are fed to the dairy herd at Plumpton Agricultural College.
“So we’re delighted to be dealing with another local company in Rossetts Commercials. I have worked with its Dealer Principal Perry Reeves for a number of years and he runs a very flexible, customer-focused operation, which is exactly what we need.”
He added: “I’m keen to move away from our current mixed fleet arrangement. Provided the deals remain competitive and the vehicles reliable – which I’m sure they will – it’s our intention as we phase out our older trucks and vans over the next couple of years to replace them with more new Mercedes-Benz vehicles.”