Today, the haulage and plant hire company the Malcolm Group is still associated with the village of Brookfield, and the name of Donald Malcolm as the driving force behind the success of this family business is still celebrated.
Hard work, humour and common sense were his hallmarks.” This was the description of Donald Malcolm in the Paisley Daily Express which reported his death on 3 May 2003.
The family business began in 1925. Walter Hattrick Malcolm married Marion McPhail in 1923 and the couple had their first child Donald, born on 16 April 1925. The couple lived in a flat in Johnstone. Only four weeks after the birth of their son the couple moved to rent the ground floor, outbuildings and nine acres of land at Boghouse Farm in nearby Brookfield. This was the base for the fledgling domestic coal delivery business established by Walter Malcolm. This was hard, heavy work which involved shovelling coal off rail trucks at Johnstone North railway station into one hundredweight hessian sacks for delivery to local homes. Deliveries were made by horse and cart, six days a week.
The family grew as Walter and Marion had two daughters, Morag in 1926 and Agnes in 1927. The business also grew and by 1930 not only were there two horse and cart to deliver coal but also a second-hand Morris 30cwt lorry. By 1934 the fleet grew again to three horse and cart along with three lorries. The family and business were dealt a tragic blow when at the age of forty-two Walter Malcolm died from a perforated ulcer. This left Marion a widow with three children under the age of nine. Donald a pupil at Kilbarchan Primary School started work at the age of eight helping his mother with the business after school. Donald went to secondary school at John Neilson School in Paisley. In 1939 the school leaving age was fourteen, but Donald left at the age of thirteen to help full time with the family business. He helped with the coal rounds, learnt the routes, dealt with customers, and picked up the skills necessary for the maintenance and repair of the delivery lorries. During the war period the family business expanded to include more lorries, taking on more haulage business particularly associated with the war effort. This included haulage work at the ordinance factory at Bishopton.
On 23 February 1957 Donald married Williamina Buchanan. Over the following years the couple had two sons, Walter, and Andrew as well as two daughters, Wilma, and Marion.
The ethic of hard work espoused by both of his parents was continued by Donald Malcolm and as the years went by the haulage business grew and was expanded with the addition of a successful plant hire business. In 1960 Donald Malcolm sold the fleet of thirty-seven lorries and plant machinery to Grampian Holdings making healthy profit. He joined the board of directors of Grampian Holdings and headed up the haulage business. In 2002 Grampian Holdings was renamed the Malcolm Group. Donald was a well-known figure around Brookfield and he supported local events such as Lilias Day. He also supported the West Renfrewshire Young Farmers.
Following Donald Malcolm’s death in 2003 the business was again taken into private ownership in 2005. Donald’s two sons Andrew and Walter now run the business. Donald Malcolm is rightly acknowledged as the driving force behind the success of the family business.