In 1990 in a small garage in Hull, Martin Williams, together with his wife Patricia, set-up their own business repairing accident damaged commercial vehicles. Now, as the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, it is clear Martin, together with his two sons Chris and Nick, have transformed the company into one of the UK’s leading commercial vehicle bodybuilder and accident repair centres. bodyshop reports.
With orders from local companies including Wren Kitchens, MKM Building Supplies, Dennis Butler Fruit & Veg and Kingstown Furniture, as well as national companies such as Prohire, Axis Fleet Management, Wolseley UK and Dawson Rentals – Martin Williams has developed an established and trusted name for itself. Although the company has seen dramatic growth, its strong family business values remain, with the day-to-day management handled by Martin’s two sons and fellow directors – Chris and Nick Williams.
In 2014 the company won bodyshop magazine’s Commercial Vehicle Bodyshop of the Year Award at a glittering ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort. The award was won ahead of some tough competition, as Chris commented, ‘We are so proud of this achievement, it shows all our hard work has paid off.’
In the same year Martin Williams set out on its most ambitious expansion plan to date. The expansion saw an investment of over £1 million, and allowed the creation of a state-of-the-art facility with 50,000sqft of workshop space. The investment not only doubled the original workshop size, but also increased the site to five acres to allow storage for up to 250 vehicles.
The investment has allowed the company to expand on its already impressive facilities. Since its investment, the company has installed two of the latest USI Italia Cargo, energy efficient, low-bake commercial vehicle spraybooths. The spraybooths are capable of housing all types of trailers or double deck coaches or, if required, can be segregated to enable the painting of four rigid vehicles or tractor units at any one time. On top of this, the company has also introduced a purpose built mixing room complete with PPG and Nexa Autocolor commercial vehicle paint schemes which house the latest colour IT from PPG including its TouchMix and RapidMatch. The new spraybooths enable the company to offer an impressive five year warranty on all new paintwork.
The maintenance department too benefited from new equipment, as it moved into its own 8,000sqft workspace complete with an authorised treatment facility (ATF) specification inspection pit and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) specification commercial brake tester.
On top of its investment, Martin Williams was also awarded a government grant from the Regional Growth Fund which, according to the company, has helped them to grow at a ‘faster rate than planned’.
Upon receiving the grant, the company has invested in its staffing, including the employment of more young people; key for the future of the industry. There are now 10 new apprentices – most of which were school leavers – who are provided with a mixture of in-house training from qualified and experienced staff, together with day release at the local college.
Nick explained, ‘The reason for the company’s passion for apprentices is that it is increasingly difficult to find quality trained and experienced staff to work in the industry. It also has the added bonus in that training new young apprentices in-house ensures existing staff can pass on their skills to the next generation and keep the high level of skill required in our manufacturing industry.’
Whilst the majority of the 93 staff live locally, one member of staff travels 65 miles from Leeds every day – a true sign of commitment, and a result of a company which ensures it invests in its employees.
Even though the company doubled its size in 2014, there are certainly no plans to slow down with its ambitious growth plans. The bodyshop is now planning to increase its new build schedule to over 1,000 units per year, as well as increase the number of refurbishments and rebrands too. Now its infrastructure, key staff and whole vehicle type approvals (WVTA) are in place, both Chris and Nick are ‘confident that the company can continue to grow’.
Already, the company has begun the first of a range of new infrastructure investments. Nick explained, ‘We are spending £100,000 on a new parts storage area which will assist the production departments and allow us to manage our stock levels more efficiently. We can reduce stock levels and, at the same time, improve quality.’
The investment has also seen the creation of a new vehicle completion/pre-delivery inspection (PDI) and valet bay which, completed in April 2015, has enhanced its quality control systems and created additional jobs.
‘Martin Williams still face challenges ahead. As the recent recession proved, no company can afford to stand still,’ said Chris. Yet, whilst the company continues to grow, it is ensuring it provides its customers with a competitively priced and high quality service.
This year, the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the launch of its new branding in conjunction with its new website. According to the company, the new brand is synonymous with ‘quality, durability and value’, bringing it to the forefront of the vehicle bodybuilding, repair and paintwork industry in the UK.