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Moving in the Black Mountains

Sep 12, 2013
I met father and son team Anthony and Adam Keil from ATK Removals in Hereford, 22 miles away from their base in the picturesque town of Hay-on-Wye, which straddles the border between England and Wales in the Black Mountains. By David Jordan

It was June, a busy time for the small family business so I’d arranged to meet them during a move to save time. The house, in an exclusive area of Hereford, had limited access, so the two Luton vans had to be carefully maneuvered into position. While Toni, the third member of the team worked on, I talked to Anthony and Adam about ATK and how the business has evolved during its first 30 years.

Anthony began trading in London back in 1982 working mainly in the antiques trade and also doing contract work for some of the large shipping companies.

“I wanted to move away from London into a rural area and we moved to Hay in 1988,” said Anthony. “A lot of people from London visit Hay-on-Wye during holidays and weekends, mainly because of the 38 bookshops and numerous antique centres - they call it the Notting Hill Gate of the Black Mountains. We get quite a lot of work delivering the antiques they’ve bought back to London, so my experience in the trade comes in quite handy.”

Anthony’s other son looks after the firm’s website and handles the administration and marketing as well as ordering packing materials and dealing with enquiries.

“Most of our work is domestic moves but we do some commercial work as well from time to time,” said Adam. “We recently did some work for Laura Ashley in Newtown, but being in a mainly rural area there isn’t a lot of industry so working for private individuals is our core business.”

Often jobs can be very small. “Sometimes a customer will ask us to move furniture from one room to another and we’re always happy to oblige,” said Anthony. “Having been in the area for so long people know they can trust us and most of our work comes from referrals. We handle about 200 moves a year and have two warehouses we use for storage, so we’re kept fairly busy despite the downturn in the economy.”

ATK currently runs four vehicles, three Lutons and a smaller VW van, although there are plans to add a larger vehicle to the fleet in the future. “The small vans are ideal for the roads we have in the area, there are a lot of narrow streets and country lanes and we’d often struggle with a full size van,” said Anthony. “We often work with other removals companies to help with deliveries to addresses with restricted access, especially in the Black Mountains – it’s often impossible to reach them with a large vehicle.”

So what of the future? “We’d like to grow the business a little and perhaps take on more long distance work, but we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of our service, so we’re not in a rush to get bigger,” said Adam.


Picture: L- R Adam & Anthony Keil

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