Quick Questions: Commercial Motor meets Keith Atkins, fleet operations director, Fraikin
RB: What is your favourite holiday destination?
KA: In the UK, St Ives, Cornwall. Overseas, I’d pick South Africa, as it’s got everything you could ask for: diversity, space, adventure and great rugby.
RB: What car do you drive?
KA: A BMW M4.
RB: What are your hobbies?
KA: Spending time with my two children, plus playing rugby union, coaching juniors and supporting Bath rugby club. I also really love skiing and shooting, when chance permits.
RB: How did you get into the industry?
KA: At school my two goals were to join the RAF or Royal Marines, and to be an engineer. Unable to secure my mother’s permission to enlist at a young age, I took up a five-year apprenticeship with the City and County of Bristol as a motor vehicle engineer. However, a few years later I joined the Royal Marines Reserve and earned my green beret. I then transferred into the RAF Regiment Reserve where I saw active service in Kuwait, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.
RB: How would you encourage more young people into the industry?
KA: Change how the industry and its skilled workers are perceived, expand the current apprenticeship system and ensure young people receive a full three years training in both the practical and theoretical aspects of a role as an apprentice. Vehicle technicians ultimately have the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians in their hands yet they don’t receive anywhere near the recognition, reward or status they deserve - as aircraft engineers do, for example.
RB: What is the outlook for your sector of the market over the next 12 months?
KA: That given the wealth of planned and potential changes in legislation, such as Direct Vision and ULEZ, plus the inevitable uncertainty around Brexit, I believe the market will be very strong for commercial vehicle contract hire. I cannot see why any operator would want to commit to outright purchase when they can tap into the expertise of a company like ours.
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