Sitting on the fence
Truck & Driver|February 2021
Nick Oates and his family have built several successful businesses in the past decade within their KN Group, and his striking Renault Range T-High Low is the best advert for it – as well as paying tribute to his late wife
Dan Parton

Wherever Nick Oates goes in his 26 tonne Renault Range T-High Low 520, he gets admiring glances, and when customers go into the shop of his Harlow Fencing business, they regularly say things like “saw your lorry out the other day, it does look well.” But then the truck is a bit special – and it had to be as it is a tribute to his beloved late wife, Yvette.

Painted in striking all-white save for the black and green “HF” Harlow Fencing logo, the Range T-High has pretty much every box ticked for add-ons. This includes Durabright alloy wheels, air suspension on all three axles, on-board weighing system, cameras at the front and the back and lots of lights. In the cab, no expense has been spared either: it has leather trim, a fridge and wraparound curtains.

The nod to Nick’s wife is subtle but poignant. Either side of the front number plate – KN70 YVE, KN for the parent company, YVE for Yvette – are the legends “Lady Yvette” and “never forgotten.”

Nick and Yvette had been married for many years and had had three children. So when Yvette passed away suddenly in February 2019, it came as a huge shock to the family. The tribute truck was a way for Nick to keep his mind occupied, and to have something tangible as a memorial to Yvette.

The Range T-High, which went on the road in September – some months later than planned, but Covid intervened – is very much Nick’s truck; “an MD’s toy” he laughs. He regularly goes out in it, usually a few times a week, depending on workload. But it rarely runs to its full weight capacity as most of the loads Nick takes out are empty pallets or fence panels, which are light but bulky. Nick went for three axles rather than two to give more stability and make it a better vehicle to drive.

“The truck is stunning,” he says. “The ride is comfortable as it is on air suspension. You pour yourself a coffee and it never splashes because it is so smooth a ride.”

The 520 engine also gives plenty of power as well as efficiency. “It goes up hills and down dales at 56mph, never misses a beat. It is doing about 10.9mpg at the moment but it will get better as I do more miles in it. I would imagine it would settle around 1212.5mpg.”

The truck, which came from Norfolk Trucks in Enfield, acts as a mobile advert for KN Timber. “A few years ago, we spent £8,000 in one season on radio adverts, but we don’t know how much custom that got us or how many people heard it,” Nick explains. “But we know people walk into our shop and say how good this and our other vehicles look. We think it is a fantastic advert for our company, although we can’t put a monetary value on that. But it tells our customers that we are here, we will give them quality and give them service, and that’s what we do.”

Harlow Fencing is part of the KN Group, a group of businesses that Nick has built up over the past few years with his sons, Lewis and Harry.

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