"For us Icelanders it’s very important to reuse valuable resources. In fact, that’s what our work is all about,” says Margeir Jónsson while his Volvo FH16 650 approaches today’s work site near lake Kleifarvatn, the largest lake in the Reykjanes peninsula. Located on a drift zone between two continents, Reykjanes is a truly unique site where elements like geothermal energy, lava fields and other national phenomena have created especially good conditions for a self-sufficient and green energy system.
70-year old Margeir has worked in this area since 1973, when his haulage firm started a collaboration with HS Orka, a company specialising in the build-up of geothermal stations and electricity production relying on geothermal power. As 98 per cent of all Icelandic homes are heated with hot water, the workload is constant and the collaboration has now been ongoing for 44 years. Over this time, Margeir’s company has done everything from transporting large turbines for the geothermal stations to tube transportation and supplies of necessities.
“We intend to help protect the natural world in Iceland and we always treat it with care. Our work on the HS Orka energy project has brought us even closer to nature and our employees have very much enjoyed this. The environment of the Reykjanes peninsula is awe-inspiring and the tracks that we use for this project pass through unique landscapes dominated by legally protected lava fields,” says Margeir with a smile. He nods to the beautiful scenery outside the side-window as he and his truck are getting ready to offload.
Reykjanes is, even by Icelandic standards, considered a hot area and you don’t need to drill deep to reach very hot water or steam at almost any point on this southwestern peninsula of Iceland. Yet the pipe construction job to expand Iceland’s vast geothermal energy infrastructure demands precision, since the pipes need to be placed in exactly the right position, some above ground and some underground. Margeir has therefore asked his son and business partner Jón Gunnar and one of their employees to help him.
“HS Orka’s business requires the construction of large buildings and pipeline networks and we have helped them with the building work. Our Volvo FH16 trucks have been particularly useful for these special tasks as the cargo is often heavy and our mobile cranes have played an equally important role," Margeir explains as he oversees the unloading.
The atmosphere between him and the others is familiar, which is not strange considering that five out of the sixteen employees are family members. There are actually three generations working in the family business, as Margeir’s grandson is one of the drivers.
Two of his sons also work for the company and one of them passed his commercial driver’s licence test when he was only 18 years old, which is the minimum age in Iceland. As a result, he was sometimes stopped by the police and asked to show his licence, because they had received reports that a child was driving one of the company’s large trucks.
“Trucking is basically in our blood, my father for instance was also a truck driver, and more or less the entire family has oil rather than blood running through their veins. We are all used to hard work and the average working day is often longer then ten hours, although no two days are the same,” says Margeir.
He and his colleagues have just finished their task with the pipes and are getting ready for their next assignment; the transportation of a pre-fabricated concrete unit. Having a haulage company with sixteen trucks in a country with only 340,000 inhabitants means that Margeir must take on all kinds of jobs and be available at any time. The word ‘no’ is simply just not part of the Jón og Margeir EHF’s vocabulary, and apart from HS Orka they also do a lot of work for building contractors, shipping companies and road surface firms.
Trucking is basically in our blood, my father for instance was also a truck driver, and more or less the entire family has oil rather than blood running through their veins.
Since Iceland is also a major fishing nation and Margeir’s home town Grindavík is a typical fishing town, they also transport a lot of fish. Their powerful 38-metre long cranes have proved ideal for offloading huge commercial fishing nets from difficult-to-access vehicles.
“Our hardest workdays are actually not when we are working on laying pipelines and constructing electricity plants but instead when we are transporting fish over long distances, 400 to 500 kilometres away from the port where it is loaded,” Margeir states and explains that the weather in Iceland can be very unpredictable. Only last year five of his trucks got stranded in Djúpuvík in the eastern part of the country for four days in a wild blizzard. Luckily the fish didn’t deteriorate due to the good refrigeration equipment in the trucks.
“All our drivers must be prepared to react to unusual circumstances and assess different situations carefully. Patience is one of the qualities we must all possess,” Margeir says while he’s getting ready to go home after yet another ten-hour working day. He recently celebrated his 70th birthday and is nowhere near ready for retirement, even though the responsibility for the company is increasingly being shifted to his son Jón Gunnar.
“In time, my grandson will probably take over, making it three generations of proud family business. I hope that they will continue driving Volvo trucks and that they will learn not to say ‘no’ either,” says Margeir.
Jón og Margeir EHF
Owners: Margeir Jónsson and his son, Jón Gunnar Margeirsson.
Workforce: 16 employees and 14 drivers.
History: Founded in 1992. However, Margeir has been driving trucks since 1970 and he bought his first Volvo F86 in 1974.
Key clients: HS Orka, fishing companies in Grindavík, building contractors, road surfacing firms, shipping companies.
Fleet of vehicles: 11 Volvo FH16 trucks and 3 Scania trucks.
Volvo vehicles: Of the 11 Volvos, four are Volvo FH16 with 540 to 750 hp engines. Of these four, two are equipped with cranes.
Main cargo: Fish, construction materials, asphalt, freight containers.