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Transportes Cepelludo – Spreading the risk

June 2019

The route to the village of Salces, high in the mountains of the Spanish province of Cantabria, runs along the beautiful artificial lake at the source of the main river in Spain, the Ebro. The mountain tops on the horizon are more than 2,500 metres high and even on a hot summer’s day they still have snow on them. The people living in the mountains are hard workers, shaped by the cold winters and hot summers. And exactly in a cold winter on the mountainside, that’s where the history of Transportes Cepelludo begins. An interview with angel perez salces.

Where does the name Cepelludo come from?

Angel: “To tell the story about the name Cepelludo we have to go back to the fifties. Everyone here in the mountains was poor and during the winter there was not much work apart from chopping wood in the forest. My father found it difficult – when he was still young – to get up in the morning. One time he overslept and had to rush after his gang on his bike to the forest. When he got there he was sweating profusely because from the Salces village to the top of the mountain there is a height difference of 500 metres. The name of that mountain is Cepelludo. From that day onwards the nickname of my father was ‘Cepelludo’. And has remained so. ”

Angel Peres Salces
Angel Peres Salces

How was Transportes Cepelludo born?

Angel: “My father started out in 1965 with one single truck. At first he carried out transports in the region, but before long he went to the ports of Santander and Bilbao. There was more work there than where we were, in the mountains. After he transported the first vessel, around 1970, my father soon saw an opportunity to further expand the yacht transport business. To carry vessels you need special trailers and that’s how we began to specialise in abnormal transport. To start with it was on a small scale but from 1985 onwards Cepelludo fully specialised in abnormal transport and the transport of yachts. My father died in 2002. Together with my brother Javier we continued my father’s business. We are pleased that the next generation has also inherited our fascination for special transport. My nephew Francisco works in the traffic department with me and my other nephew Javier is active in the planning of the vessel transport department.”

Two departments: abnormal transport and vessels.

Angel: “Cepelludo has been a specialist in the transport of yachts for a very long time. Particularly in the spring and autumn we take many yachts from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean and back again. Vessels are not very heavy and that makes it easier to get exemption in Spain. For the transport of yachts we have the very special Dutch Draco trailers. With these we can keep the height as low as possible. To transport vessels we use five permanent combinations. In total our fleet consists of 25 trucks and almost twice as many trailers. The work we do is extremely labour intensive. Sometimes we are busy with the preparations for one single transport many months ahead. We are not going to expand our fleet because in our opinion we are able to provide a higher quality and better service as a small company.

Cepelludo is a real family business

Angel: “My brother Francisco and I grew up among trucks and trailers. We have divided the task within the company very clearly. I take care of the day-to-day management, my brother is responsible for the planning and his son looks after the planning of vessel transports. ”

Many of your trailers are from the Netherlands

Angel: “In 1998 we bought the first Nooteboom trailer from the father of Luis Macias of Trainar. The one delivered last is number 21 or 22, I’m not sure. The composition of our fleet is simple: for loads up to 100 tonnes Nooteboom is the best manufacturer of low-loaders and semi low-loaders. We are especially pleased with the Manoovr. For the transport of vessels we could not find a solution within the Nooteboom programme. Via Dick Nooteboom we got in touch with Draco. They are able to perfectly meet our requirements for the transport of yachts. For the modular section with more than 100 tonnes load capacity we are, due to the former strategic alliance Nooteboom had with Scheuerle. Our experience has taught us that working with the latest equipment is most efficient. The technical developments continue to advance and we can see that a Nooteboom trailer of 2018 clearly has better specifications than a trailer of ten years ago. Also, the costs for repairs and maintenance will be lower. That’s why we are trying to replace our entire fleet within six years. So we stay up-to-date. From a technical viewpoint a Nooteboom trailer can last much longer. We know, because we still have one Nooteboom trailer that’s 18 years old. When we replace trailers we take a good look at developments in the business of our customers. In the last few years loads have only become higher, wider and heavier. Our Nooteboom trailers have grown in equal measure.”

Ceppeludo Office
The office of Cepelludo in Salces
Ceppeludo trailers
Cepelludo have been a customer at Nooteboom for many years

Do you outsource lifting operations?

Angel: “We know about trucks and trailers but a lot less about cranes. If we need a crane we can hire one anywhere. In Spain the competition among crane hire companies is fierce. We sometimes say: In Spain there are more cranes than bottles of beer.”

Checks

Angel: “In Spain abnormal transports are regularly checked by the police. Because our exemptions are in order and our equipment is properly maintained we rarely have a problem with the Spanish checks. This is different in France.

Is the European Community an advantage for your business?

Angel: “Without the EU we would not have been able to establish this company over the last few years. The Euro has made financial transactions so much easier and we are convinced that the EU has contributed considerably to pulling Spain out of the crisis. We have become committed Europeans.

Collaboration with European colleagues

Angel: “In virtually every European country we have a partner with whom we have worked for years. In the Netherlands we frequently join forces with companies such as Van der Vlist, Van Wieren and Van Santen. These are professional, reliable companies with good drivers and good equipment. It took years to build up this network. We are reliable and we expect the same of our European partners.”

Warranties

Angel: “In part of Spain you are obliged to pay in a deposit for any damage that might occur en route. Those amounts can soon escalate because if, for example, I drive from Irun to Madrid we pass through three different jurisdictions. The size of the deposit can easily end up being more than € 10,000. In Galicia an amount of € 6,000 per trip is normal and we don’t like to drive through Catalonia because the regulations we are confronted with there are even more complicated. These deposits are only required for transport in the category ‘Abnormal’ with a total weight of more than 110 tonnes.”

Ceppeludo-1
Loads are getting heavier, that’s why the Nooteboom trailers we buy are getting heavier too
Ceppeludo-2
EURO-PX low-loader with flexneck for transport of yachts
Ceppeludo-3
Beautiful weather in Spain, but in the mountains snow can fall until late spring

Wind energy

Angel: “The orders in the wind sector fluctuate enormously. One year there is a great deal of construction and then projects are postponed the year after. We would certainly not like to be dependent on transports for wind farms. By spreading the work among different customers and sectors we are much less at risk. When we buy our trailers we also look for multifunctional equipment we can use to transport construction machinery today, concrete elements tomorrow and the day after maybe a windmill turbine. Our Nooteboom trailers can be used for a wide variety of loads.”

Collaboration with European colleagues

Angel: “In virtually every European country we have a partner with whom we have worked for years. In the Netherlands we frequently join forces with companies such as Van der Vlist, Van Wieren and Van Santen. These are professional, reliable companies with good drivers and good equipment. It took years to build up this network. We are reliable and we expect the same of our European partners.”

Specialised transport cannot take place without specialised personnel

Cantabria

Angel: “Salces, the village where Transportes Cepelludo is based, is located in the Cantabrian Mountains. Across the road runs the river Ebro, which has its source three kilometres away. The 928 km long Ebro is the longest river in Spain. Its water catchment area starts in the mountains of Cantabria and continues towards the Mediterranean. The name of the river was also used as brand name for Ebro trucks, which were manufactured in Spain until the eighties. The mountain tops are over 2,500 metres high and even in summer they are covered in snow. This year Salces still had a heavy snowfall. The distance to the seaport of Santander is around 70 kilometres. For a heavy transport coming from Santander direction Salces it is a serious climb as there is a difference in altitude of nearly 1,000 metres.”

What does the future look like for Cepelludo?

Angel: “We are going to specialise further in the transport of machinery and industrial relocations. For transports in Spain that exceed a total weight of 110 tonnes you need a huge amount of experience, not only when applying for exemptions but also en route. Our drivers have years of experience and because of their expertise we can offer our customers a better quality than any transport operator from abroad. For us it is not a priority to increase our storage capacity, because our location in Salces is strategically not ideal. At the moment we are investigating which type of tractor is suitable for ultra-heavy transports. The tractor must definitely have a torque converter or perhaps we’ll go for a tractor with Turbo-Retarder-Clutch.”

At Transportes Cepelludo everything emanates reliability. Perfectly maintained Volvo tractors, the latest Nooteboom trailers and – above all – extremely experienced drivers. For a transport exceeding 110 tonnes through Spain you simply cannot ignore Cepelludo.

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