'I packed in my job after 23 years in 2017 - now I've got my own booming Doncaster business'

Adrian Sullivan packed in his job after 23 years with no new job to go to.

By David Kessen
Tuesday, 04 June, 2019, 11:16
Richard Silvester, left, and Adrian Sullivan, right, picking up Parcelpass' award at the Doncaster Chamber Doncaster Business Awards last year

Stressed and unhappy, he wanted a change.

But less than two years after setting up on his own in a completely different industry, he is now the man in charge of a firm seen as a Doncaster success story.

Adrian, who runs the Parcelpass delivery service from a unit on the Churchill Industrial Estate on Wheatley Hall Road, had been working in electrical wholesale for 23 years, since the age of 17.

But at the age of 39, be decided he had had enough.

He felt he was suffering from stress and anxiety, and decided to hand his notice in. At the time, he had six weeks worth of money to tide himself over until he found work.

He said: “I believed in myself, and I knew I would swim if it was sink or swim. But I wanted to be free to enjoy my life, and for everything not to be about money.”

Initially, he thought about setting up a business coaching football. He had previously coached children with Bessacarr FC as an amateur, and considered setting up a scheme called Positive Attitude Soccer Skills. But after looking into the idea, he felt there was not enough money to make a living in that plan. But he did hold onto the name – PASS – in his eventually project.

“I had never been involved in transport before, but I knew someone who did work for a hauliage carrier. That was in July 2017.

“At the time I didn’t even know what a longwheel base van was.

“I got a 2009 Volkswagen Crafter, and was doing deliveries for three months.”

He had plenty of business coming in, but sometimes had to bring in other people to do jobs that he was unable to fit in himself.

As he found that happening more and more often, he changed the nature of his business.

Gradually, his own delivery work began to stop, with his role switching to commissioning vans for customers.

Three months after setting up, he sold his van, and turned his attention to getting as much business as possible, getting assistance from Business Doncaster.

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He also brought in a friend as a business partner, Richard Silvester.

Before long he was working with 7.5 ton lorries after finding suitable operators to work with. By January 2018, he was working with 18 ton trucks as he developed a list of high profile customers. He was a transport firm with no vehicles, instead passing work to lorry and van owners

The business moved from Adrian’s home to its office off Wheatley Hall Road in February 2018

But it suffered a serious setback in January. One of its biggest customers, for which Parcelpass were doing 20 to 30 jobs a week, was taken over and stopped outsourcing. It meant it lost a major part of its work. 

But Parcelpass bounced back and diversified.

It now deals with customers all over the UK and abroad. The firm has provided transport as far away as Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as Norway, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

It has recovered the ground it lost.

“We trust in our business model,” said Adrian. “This will be the best month we have had. We lost a lot of business and January was the worst month we had seen for some time. But as long ago as September 2018 we had been concerned that one firm was accounting for too much of our business. We didn’t plan for them to drop off.

“But now we have a better spread of business, and there is no one company that dominates our business.

“We described ourselves as a transport hub – we speak to people and find solutions for them.

“We are now an international business now – I couldn’t have imagined that two years ago.”

They now have list of big name clients includling Hitachi, Polypipe, DB Schenker, and Centrica, and there are now four people working for the firm, with plans to take on an apprentice shortly

Doncaster’s business community is impressed by what Parcelpass have done. At the end of 2018, the company was  named Business Start Up of the Year in the Doncaster Chamber Doncaster Business Awards. Applications for the 2019 awards are currently open.