Many empires have been built by families throughout history such as the Rockefellers’s, Walton’s and the Muller’s of the world. There is no bond stronger than family and when all working in harmony there are no limits to what they can achieve. The act of passing knowledge down to your children and having the new generation build on the original foundations are the literal building blocks of the beginning of your empire.
At Culina Group we like to think of our employees as one big family. We work together on a daily basis, all pulling in the same direction towards a common goal. We aim to provide the best possible service for our clients, to ensure an enjoyable and safe working environment and by making the business stronger we are able to create job security for 9,500 employees.
But what is stronger than a family? A family within a family, that’s what! Our Culina Logistics Hereford depot is home to three members of the Wiechniak family. Robert the father and his two sons Kacper and Kuba all drive at the chilled site. A unique Culina ”family” story in which father and sons followed a similar career path to reach the same destination.
Father, Robert passed his HGV Class 1 Licence at 23 whilst in the Polish Air Forces although he did not start his career in transport until later
”After I finished my army career I decided to become an international lorry driver”, said Robert,
”The main reason for this at that time, was a good salary. International lorry drivers were paid very well, but after I got to know the job that was not as important to me as at the beginning. I was fascinated by western lorries that couldn’t be compared to Polish trucks. The thing I loved most about that job was discovering new countries, cultures and listening to stories told to me by older drivers.”
For the first few years of his driving career Robert was mainly working on routes into Western European countries an experience that involved significant waiting time in huge queues on border crossings because Poland was not yet in the EU.
”When I finally crossed a border I was driving around industrial estates and motorways. There was no way to explore anything interesting there,” Said Robert,
”For me, the real transport started when I changed the direction of travel. When I crossed the Eastern border that was a different world. The road to Moscow or Saint Petersburg was not too bad, however, when you passed Moscow that was the start of a real challenge. No lorry parks, no restaurants, no mechanic garages. Any driver that was operating in that region of Russia had to be a cook, mechanic and very often a ”Transport Manager”. Russia is a huge country, in summer you may have +40 degrees Celsius and sand storms and in winter – 40 and snow storms, but that is what I loved about the job. It was full of challenges and unforgettable journeys.”
In 2004 Poland joined the EU and Robert decided the time was right to continue his transport career in the UK. So on Sunday April 3rd 2005 he dismounted at Victoria Coach Station in London. A month later Robert moved to Hereford to take a job with a local haulage firm as a lorry driver. In 2012 he moved to another haulier before joining Culina in 2019.
”I joined Culina Hereford in the April and now work with my sons”, said Robert,
”Kacper and Kuba followed in my footsteps but being honest I didn’t want them to. However, now that I see they are doing what they love and that’s the most important thing to me. Working together with them allows us help and support each other. At work, we are colleagues.”
Kacper was actually the first member of the Wiechniak family to join Culina Logistics. He saw an advert online and applied on a whim not expecting to be considered due to his young age and limited experience. He was surprised to be invited for interview and even more surprised when an hour later he was informed he had got the job.
”I can say that it was the best decision I’ve made,” said Kacper, ”Now, I go to work with smile on my face everyday”
As a child Kacper was always fascinated by lorries and as long as he can remember he has wanted to be a lorry driver. He loved it when his father Robert parked his lorry in front of their house so that he could play in it and enjoyed listening to his stories from the road.
”I believe that my father was a big influence on me growing up”, said Kacper, ”because if he hadn’t been a driver I would probably would have never have sat in a lorry. I like the feeling of being ‘KING OF THE ROAD’. I think that’s what I was made for, I love driving.”
Kacper has never had formal HGV driving lessons with a qualified instructor. He passed both Class 2 and Class 1 licence by being trained only by his father.
”Being trained by my father helped me to take everything at my own pace”, said Kacper,
”It is different to being trained by a stranger. I remember I took every opportunity to sit behind the wheel. When I was doing my lorry provisional licence I was driving with my father almost every day. After a few weeks driving with him I went for my HGV practical, which I passed it.”
Kacper likes the ”one team” approach at Culina where employees work life balance is respected and supported.
”Nobody forces me to do anything extra that is not in my contract at Culina. If I want and am able to I do extra shifts, I can even do nights out if I want. It’s up to me if want to work over time”, said Kacper,
”Recently my boss, asked if I would change my day shifts to nights. I explained to him that this wouldn’t suit me as I have a baby and I want to spend time with him at home. He respected my decision and said he fully understood. That’s one of the things I like about Culina”.
It was Kacper who encouraged Kuba and Robert to join Culina. He was confident they would also be really happy working for Culina and be attracted by the pay, the work, and the regular shifts. Although she doesn’t work for Culina (yet!) the boy’s mother, Teresa is also an HGV driver. If he could get his mother into Culina, it would be a full Wiechniak family team.
”If my Mom joined Culina I would be very happy”, said Kacper,
”At the moment she does a physically taxing job compared to ours. She drives a lorry with a crane and has to load and unload herself, which can be very unpleasant in heavy rain or winter.”
Kuba was enticed into Culina by his brother Kacper. He is impressed by the quality of the fleet he is able to operate and feels that it is a great place to work.
”I feel secure at Culina”, said Kuba,
”I also like it because of the people I work with, they are kind to each other and everyone tries to do the best they can.”
Also trained by his father, Kuba too was captivated by the magic of trucking at an early age. Being surrounded by trucks and enjoying frequent trips with Robert on his daily work routine it appeared that Kuba’s career path was set towards transport.
”Being trained by my father was the best way of training for me”, said Kuba, ”I could ask him thousands of questions which reduced my stress levels a lot.”
Kuba enjoys the variety that his work provides and the opportunity to see new places and meet many interesting people.
”I love driving and that is the first reason”, he said, ”I like it also because it lets me get out of my home town, something interesting always happens.”
Although Culina are currently providing what seems to be the perfect work opportunity for the Wiechniak family, Kacper and Kuba are ambitious professionals and are keen in the future to make their own mark in transport by one day setting up their own transport business.
”I am really happy working at Culina, I repeat I really like working here. In the future though, I would like to get my own lorry and set up my own business. It’s nice that as a family we all work together, and share the same experiences. If any of us has a problem we try to solve it together. We drive the same trucks so if something unexpected happens, one of us usually has the solution,” said Kacper.
The Wiechniak family values are a perfect example of the values that we look for in our Culina family – Commitment – Teamwork – and Support.
If you would like to join our winning team visit culinacareers.co.uk today to see our current vacancies across the network.