Daniel Ashville Louisy is a man of many parts: Self-made businessman and self-confessed risk taker, fitness enthusiast, plant operator, truck driver and, most recently, social media star...
Louisy is founder and group managing director of Construction, waste management and aggregates business the Ashville Group of Companies and has amassed a huge following. More than 265,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and 95,000 followers on his Instagram account check in regularly to watch his adventures as he documents the highs and lows of his business, all punctuated throughout with large doses of good humour.
Describing himself as ‘captain of industry and maverick’, Louisy’s easy-going manner and entertaining videos are combined with a sharp business brain that has seen his London-based property development operation expand into tipper, grab, and skip hire, muckaway services and bulk haulage.
As a youngster, he had always shown interest in construction, more specifically plant, although his early career concentrated on sports science before going on to work with a variety of sports organisations as a strength and conditioning coach. However, construction continued calling and in 2006 he set up Ashville Inc. to undertake development projects across the capital, quickly gaining a reputation for quality work. Ashville Aggregates and Ashville Concrete were later added to the mix.
While working on a development job in 2013, Daniel took a decision that would be the small beginning of a big fleet. “It was on one of our basement build projects and a grab supplier said they couldn’t get us a wagon, so I went out and bought one,” he recalled. “Time is money, and I couldn’t afford to be waiting. That led to us investing in skip wagons and it’s gone on from there.” The fleet now numbers 35 tippers, skip trucks, grab wagons, artics and concrete mixers and pumps that service Ashville’s own developments as well as the needs of other companies (and he still has that original 2009 DAF grab vehicle from 2013).
Another major decision followed in 2019 when Ashville established a dedicated railhead at its HQ in West Drayton, a deal that made it the nearest railhead capable of supplying massive infrastructure projects such as the Heathrow Airport expansion and the HS2 rail scheme. It also enabled the business to import, on its own terms, aggregates from around the UK.
Trains normally deliver stone five days a week, each train bringing in up to 1,600 tonnes of material which is unloaded and delivered across the region by the company’s tippers. Just one trainload can eliminate 80 lorry movements and dramatically reduce Ashville’s carbon impact.
To help shift the huge volumes of material at West Drayton, Daniel has invested in a fleet of Liebherr equipment. “We ran machines from another brand previously, but we had a nightmare with aftersales; there was very little in the way of support.
“When we started speaking to the people at Liebherr, we saw they were all technically competent. I could go to the warehouse, I could go to the workshop, I could see exactly what they had. When I spoke to them on the phone, they were quick to react, and the machines are great. The decision was really made for me.”
The Liebherr line-up now includes an LH 60 material handler, a pair of L 586 wheeled loaders, an R 926 excavator, and a 60-tonne LH 60 material handler, the biggest in the fleet. The R 926 handles much of the incoming materials from the tipper and skip fleet while the others are employed mainly in the aggregates part of the business.
At the railhead, vehicle access to the stockpiles is halfway across the train line, presenting logistics difficulties that need to be worked around. The team has to despatch as many trucks as possible before a train arrives at around 9.30 each morning. With that completed and the train in the sidings, GB Railfreight staff divide the train into two sections, drawing out the front section and allowing access to the yard for a short time. An operator then unloads the final three wagons on the front section before the train shunts backwards and closes the access again.
Perched in his machine atop a pile of stone tipped over the preceding couple of days, the operator has a clear view into the wagons, thanks to the elevated cab and a dipper-mounted camera. While the bulk of each wagon can be emptied easily, skill is required to tease out any remaining pieces of stone using the flat cutting edges of a Prodem grab.
Because the train blocks the access, trucks are unable to drive into the yard so one of the two L 586 XPower loaders has to move some of the deposited stone to the far side of the stockpile and then, shuttling back and forth, make additional space to drop more material.
Elsewhere, the LH 60 handler sits on a stable undercarriage around six metres long by five metres wide. A sliding cab door allows easy access to the cab from which the operator enjoys the power provided by an 8-litre, 4-cylinder Liebherr diesel delivering 258hp. The material handling equipment of 8.5m curved boom and short dipper carries the 3m3 clamshell grab with ease.
Operators at Ashville are big fans of the Liebherr cab having spent many hours on competing manufacturers’ machines doing similar work. “It’s a really comfortable place to work. You’ve got great visibility all around, plus the numerous camera systems covering the blind spots make it relaxing to drive,” said Daniel. “We’re pushed all the time to unload the material as quickly but as safely as possible and as long as I level the material off around me, I can track the machine anywhere and it will be stable. It’s really impressive.”
Unlike the experience with his previous machine supplier, Daniel is impressed with the servicing and back-up from Liebherr. “We had an issue one Saturday morning with both wheeled loaders,” he recalled. “I couldn’t fault the way that Biggleswade responded to our phone call. We called about 8.30 in the morning and both loaders were back up and running by 1pm. If Liebherr couldn’t have solved the issue, we wouldn’t have been able to unload the train and that would have cost us big time.”
Being a sociable chap. “I started with social media when my friend Yianni at Yiannimize [supercar customiser for Premier League footballers and other celebrities] encouraged me to share with the world what I did on a daily basis. For a very long time I did not want to do it as it is something that is often frowned upon in the industry but once I started and received good feedback, I never looked back.”
Juggling business and video making. “It is very difficult. I do enjoy it, but it means I never have a day off. We have recently started to work with a new system which means there is a week’s delay until our show, ‘Ashville Weekly’ is released. It means I will have more time to at least get one good night’s sleep a week.”
Business benefits. “It has definitely raised awareness of the business and helped our website rankings. Small to medium businesses are very enthusiastic about using Ashville and larger corporations with a more corporate structure are beginning to show interest.”
Viewer and customer feedback. “Viewers say a mix of things - inspirational, educational, a breath of fresh air and it’s part of their Sunday.