Moving with the Times – Celebrating 60 Years of Moving
Just how have a small family owned and operated business survived the past 60 years? Read on and find out more.
In the late 1950s, Matt Purdie Senior worked in the mining community as a blacksmith, just like his father who worked as a shale miner. Back then West Lothian was a thriving mining district, with rural mining villages connected by a network of rail transport.
However, a job in the mining industry was a particularly dangerous occupation in those days, with hardly any thought to health and safety. So after two very close calls in the pit that almost took his life, Matt decided to venture into a different career.
Matt’s uncle, Bob Douglas ran a coal delivery business using a traditional horse and cart. When the business was put up for sale in 1960, Matt bought it and duly retired the horse and cart in favour of a 30 CWT (1.5t in today’s scales) capacity lorry. The delivery route took place in what we now call Livingston, serving farms and villages from Old Livingston to Livingston Station (now Deans) and out as far as Bathgate. Livingston Station was the perfect base for coal operations. It had its very own siding where passing trains could leave wagons clear of the main track to allow pickups and drop-offs of coal and other materials.
It wasn’t an easy task delivering coal, nor was it particularly well paid. Matt would often have to play drums for a dance band on the weekend for that little bit of extra cash. After saving up enough money for a larger, bigger capacity truck, they moved the base of operations to Blackburn Main Street in 1964. It was here where Matt first settled down with his wife Jean, and their two sons Archie and Mathieson. Little did they know, this would be their base of operations for the next 60 years. It was at this point that Matt’s brother John joined the business
Shortly after moving to Blackburn and serving the surrounding area, the BMC started to develop their new truck plant close-by in Bathgate. In the coming months Matt would be continuously asked to carry furniture on a back load, or equipment, back and forward. He saw this as an opportunity to expand the business even further and went out and purchased a second hand furniture van. He used this as a dual purposes vehicle, delivering not only furniture, but also delivering clean paper bags of coal to various shop outlets.
After employing another 2 extra men for the vans, Matt also expanded the fleet of coal trucks too. With the Livingston as we know it just being constructed, and plans for the M8 motorway taking shape, Matt saw this as another opportunity to expand the business once again. 2 tipper trucks were purchased and he began ferrying red blaze from the surrounding shale pits to the various construction sites. This red blaze serving as the foundation of the new roads being built like the M8 motorway.
When asked about how lucky he was to have such a popular business, never short of a reply he’d always retort: “It’s a funny thing, the harder I work, the luckier I become.” Referring of course to his strong work ethic. Luck had nothing to do with it.
When Mathieson and Archie both came of age, they left school and became equal partners in the business. Their roles weren’t just limited to office work either, with both of them filling in the gaps in the business by delivering coal, selling packing materials and a new venture that involved the storing of people’s belongings.
As the need for storage increased, the time came to increase the size of the storage facilities. 2 large storage warehouses were built progressively on the Main Street in Blackburn as business increased. This new set of warehouses allowed easier access for clients, and allowed Matt Purdie & Sons to offer not only general storage, but also document and archive storage for commercial clients.
In 2000 the business celebrated its 40th birthday and saw a great increase in business over the coming decade. 2001 saw the start of the Third Generation of Purdies, as Neil Purdie (son of Archie) joined to help with the coal and removals. In years to follow the need for coal was reducing, but the need for storage was ever increasing. The decision was taken to sell off the coal delivery side of the business in order to make room for further expansion. Completed in 2004 these storage warehouses are still serving us well, offering over 280 self-store units and archive storage to the general public.
Heading towards 60 years of moving, in 2010 Purdie Worldwide reached the pinnacle of the UK Removals Industry and were awarded the BAR Domestic Mover of the Year award. The years to follow were difficult as we tried, but ultimately failed, to expand the business even further. We created a new depot in Macmerry, East Lothian, but due to location and other issues, this new branch wasn’t proving to be profitable and was sold on. Kilmarnock Removals, with their fantastically bright Blue and Yellow liveried removal trucks, was also purchased. This gave us excellent coverage of both the East and West sides of Scotland. However, trying to keep a full compliment of trucks and staff at both depots in order to serve demand, was proving very difficult
In 2015, Mathieson wanted to retire and downsize. Archie and Neil bought out his share of the business in Blackburn, and left him to run Kilmarnock Removals himself. This still left the main core of the business in Blackburn, and with a new lease of life, some new staff and some shiny new vans, Purdie Worldwide was created. Celebrating 60 years since Matt Purdie started everything, Purdie Worldwide now boasts over 20 trucks, almost 40 staff, and a reputation of Handling with Care…Anywhere!