Zimbabwean man’s rise from delivering eggs to owning 37 trucks in the UK
Meet anybody who knew Elias Chiguvi in the early 2000s, and they will most certainly tell you he was a humble man, with a smile that betrayed his shyness. Many have good things to say about him, but few could have predicted his monumental rise.
Back in 2007, Elias Chiguvi was battling to make ends meet, having made a difficult decision to move from Zimbabwe, his country of birth to the United Kingdom. Settling in Leeds, Elias began working as a van driver, delivering eggs and baked goods to hotels in London.
It was a tough job; the hours were long, and the pay was not that good. But, Elias, from Harare battled on, keeping a brave face on bad days.
On good days, Elias would deliver cargo or luggage at Heathrow Airport in his small van. It was one of those trips that Elias got up close and personal with a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) and had an epiphany.
HGV drivers earn a lot more than delivery drivers who use vans or small lorries. Having stolen a peak at one of the drivers, Elias wondered why he was sat behind the steering wheel of a van, and not an HGV.
“There was a time I was going to do deliveries to Heathrow airport for airline food. I saw trucks and said to myself ‘why can’t I drive these trucks? When I enquired with the training company that trained to drive trucks, they said they were giving a package for learning to drive and CPC management. I didn’t know what it was and then I said I want the whole package.
“They sent me some books to study and at the same time I went for lessons to drive to which I passed. I then realised what it was that I have just passed and the responsibilities that lay with this”, he said.
Epiphanies come frequently to Elias, and once he completed his lessons, he decided to aim higher, dreaming of not just driving an HGV but owning a company with a huge fleet that rivalled some of the world’s best.
Elias says he decided to go to university and study for two degrees, and then garner some real-world experience. He said: “When I passed my CPC management and HGV Licence, I thought about doing a degree on this and went to study my BSC in transport and logistics at Huddersfield University because I wanted to do it perfectly when I started my own business. I did my master’s in business and science at the same university.”
After he concluded his master’s degree, Mr Chiguvi sought to gain real world experience and worked for Amazon for two-and-a-half years. He saved up and bought three trucks and started his own business.
In a short space of time, Elias Chiguvi’s fleet has risen from three to a massive 37 HGV trucks. He said: “We started with three trucks, which then quickly doubled and doubled again to the point we are now running closer to 37.
“This has not always been easy and has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into the success of this company and with a strong team behind Wilsford Transport Ltd we are eager to see the future growth of the business.”
Although he is now an affluent businessman with a portfolio to show for it, Mr Chiguvi says his company still reflects his Southern African roots, and he thanks his family for inspiring him. He said: “My family was one of my biggest influencers and inspirations, as we all have business backgrounds.
“I wanted to create something of value yet keeping my roots at the foundation of the company. I come from a Shona family in which we lived a very full and modest life. Zimbabwe is such a beautiful and diverse country and coming to the UK is one of the biggest yet hardest decisions of my life, but I was ready to start over and embrace the new adventure and challenge myself for a better life.”
Mr Chiguvi says running a business is not all sweetness and light and told Yorkshire Live he has considered quitting several times. He said: ” It has been up and down, sometimes I would consider selling or closing the business due to the day to day pressures and then I remember how many people rely on the business as we now employ over 50 employees.
“Then there are times which make the bad times seem worth it to see the growth and what those bad times have pushed us to improve. Running a business is a lot more than what most realise, people around you only see the tip of the iceberg and not all the work done underneath it but in the end it is all worthwhile and will continue to be in the years ahead.”
But, for now, Mr Chiguvi carries on, and he is on a mission to not only grow his company, but to also make sure his employees become successful business people too. He said: “We are aiming for success, not only for Wilsford Transport Ltd but for all of its employees.
“We want to expand the business in different avenues, all still related to the logistics and transport sector but with the progression and growth of Wilsford Transport Ltd we are optimistic that our new challenges we are wanting to take on will be as successful as what we have experienced over the last few years.”