The J.R. Adams Story
Newcastle, United Kingdom
J.R. Adams takes us to the north of England. Newcastle is starkly different in climate and culture compared to the location of our previous story, and it is no exaggeration to say that stumbling upon this story was nothing short of miraculous.
We had known that we wanted to tell the story of a British trucking company since around the tail end of 2018, and all we needed was the opportunity and the right product to pair it with. Fast forward to Spring 2019 and after several email exchanges, our partnership with M-24 was birthed. Just a couple of weeks later, as we were walking down a pedestrian crossing in West London, a truck towing a fully loaded trailer stopped and gave way to us. On its maroon-painted side, the gold letters spelled J.R. Adams.
A big warm smile greeted us as we walked into the main office, this was our second time meeting John in person. As he shook our hands, he gestured toward the logbook as though we were seasoned visitors of the premises and we scribbled down 6th July 2019, 7am. John introduced us to Charlie who had been the very helpful and accommodating voice on the other end of the line prior to our first visit, liaising and organising everything on our behalf. Charlie is the Adams family’s fourth generation; the son of James - John’s elder brother.
Over the next 10 hours, we had the privilege of touring the premises, filming and capturing some of the individuals that make up what J.R. Adams stand for. From mechanics to truck drivers, the pockets of conversations we had in between shots were insightful, enriching and inspiring. J.R. Adams is a transport and storage company, and indeed they do their job very well. However, underneath all of the trucks, pallets, trailers, paint and fuel, there was a sense of camaraderie and kinship. Each of them spoke about the other with care and kindness. This experience has challenged us to rethink what an organisation or company could look like outside the confines of a typical pyramid-hierarchical structure.
David James has been working at J.R. Adams since the early 1970s. Alongside David, a large majority of the workforce has stayed loyal to the family business and the company has very low employee turnover. As we sat down with David, he started sharing stories about his earlier days as a mechanic, where he would often find himself laying underneath a truck on the shoulder of a motorway replacing faulty components. David joined J.R. Adams when the founder, Jakey Adams was still at the helm. David has since worked with Jimmy, Jakey’s son; and now James and John, Jimmy’s sons. If there was only one thing we could take home from our brief conversation with David, it would be that he was simply contented - but not complacent - with the provisions, relationships and opportunities he has been blessed with. Even so, David still nudges and challenges his family and friends toward the goals they have set out before them.
When a new employee joins any company, they will most likely be issued a company computer and other role or industry specific equipment. This is no different with J.R. Adams. Every driver at J.R. Adams is assigned their own personal truck of which is to be in their care during the entire duration of their time with the company. Haulage drivers spend a lot of their working hours in the cabin of the truck and therefore it is critical that the cabin is the space that every driver can customise to their own comfort and preference. As we walked along the rows of parked trucks on that Saturday afternoon, we couldn’t help but feel as though each truck had its own personality and attitude, all belonging and answering to their respective owners.
There is a yearning in all of us for something more. Social media, television, cultural and societal influences and even our own families may have (un)intentionally led us to believe that the answers we seek are out there in the world. Some of us look for them in our careers or financial status, others in adrenaline rushes and the thrills of relationships. Don’t be mistaken, these pursuits in and of themselves are not wrong, however, many of us are afraid to admit that the puzzle we have been piecing together our whole lives just doesn’t seem to form a complete picture. After spending the day with the Adams family and their team, we have yet again been reminded that the pursuits of the world are just temporal means to an end. Above all the excess and debt, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain , gain and loss, highs and lows; the greatest thing that holds our worlds together is love.
“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
- C.S. Lewis
Shot in Newcastle, United Kingdom.
Collaboration with M-24.
Summer 2019 Collaboration