Commercial Motor Awards 2017: Bodybuilder of the Year shortlist profiled

George Barrow
September 12, 2017

The Bodybuilder of the Year Award at the Commercial Motor Awards 2017, recognises best practice, innovation and outstanding levels of customer service delivered by a company in the UK over the past 12 months.

Our independent panel of judges looked for a bodybuilder involved in bespoke product design that listens to customer needs and is committed to delivering a quality product. As a new category for 2017, there was no winner at the inaugural Commercial Motor Awards last year.

Family-owned Bevan Group celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, and its 300 employees see 60 vehicle bodies a week - including curtain siders, dropsiders and road maintenance vehicles - roll out of its doors. In the last twelve months, Bevan has seen a significant period of growth, expanding into its new head office and production facility (whilst still retaining the previous sites), acquiring A&R Vehicle Services and its six acre site as well as relocating its Specialist Products division to a larger site. It has also grown its mobile engineer Aftercare Response division to 40 engineers, relocated its vehicle graphics division into larger premises and invested in the latest printing equipment. The judges said that Bevan was a business with an “excellent ongoing strategy” with clear development of bespoke products that gave it an edge in the market.

Celebrating 65 years in business in 2017 Cartwright produces over 3,500 trailers annually with its main manufacturing plant located at its 38-acre site in Altrincham, south Manchester. Since Mark Cartwright became group managing director in 2012 the workforce has increased from 500 to 900 and turnover from £78m to £125m in 2016, with £130m forecast for 2017. In 2016 it launched Cartwright Conversions specialising in welfare vehicles, blue light and many other bespoke solutions, draws upon Cartwright’s design and bodybuilding expertise. The judges liked the entry for its emphasis on innovation and businesses growth, as well as Cartwright’s apprenticeship programme.

In 2009 JC Payne entered administration - in 2017 it now employs 130 staff, and produces over 1,600 bodies annually. Its growth curve has been such that it bought 130,000ft2 of neighbouring factory space to increase its production facilities. It didn’t just buy the space, it spent in excess of £300,000 on improving the premises and has also installed closed-circuit television - replacing the existing lights in the factory with environmentally friendly, energy saving LED lights. In 2017 its body design and paint finish was approved by Pickfords as the body of choice for its franchisees. The judges said JC Payne is a business that “listens to the requirements of its customers” and praised the testimonials supplied with the entry.

The past 12 months have seen some major changes at Peterborough-based Lawrence David as it continues to diversify the serives it offers. While it can still launch products like a Volvo dropside rigid fitted with Hiab duo crane at the CV Show earlier this year, it has launched Trailer-Eye - its trailer tracking solution. Benefits include instant trailer location on your computer and your smart phone, with the Trailer-eye app set to be launched. The acquisition of Woodston Point, Lawrence David’s £4.5m new head office has allowed it to relocate its Asset Management division as well as increase our rigid production facilities. It has also invested in its Advance Body Repair division, with a new £1.2m site in Corby and £1.2m site in Peterborough, equipped with full paint facilities. The judges said tht Lawrence David was “clearly a successful company” that demonstrated “good innovation”.

The Leyland Trucks Engineering team is responsible for the design and development of the LF range which is currently built in annual volumes of around 12,000 trucks. The vast majority of these LF trucks are rigids and fitted with fixed bodywork. The addition of a body to a truck built at Leyland adds three to five days to the build cycle, compared with a norm of six to eight weeks in the bodybuilding industry. This gives Leyland a major advantages in terms of truck coordination, availability and financing - a fact not unnoticed by the judges, who said that it demonstrated “very good” lead times and “good innovation”.

Thompsons Group delivers bodies from 3.5-tonne van chassis to 44-tonne artic trailers from its seven factories across England - and is set to open its eight in Scotland. Some 217 people work across those sites, and deliver some 1,500 new bodies annually (including 250 skiploaders and hookloaders). In 2017, Thompsons introduced ServiceTech, its in-house service and engineering facility. As well as looking after tippers, ServiceTech offers customers ad hoc engineering support whilst also fitting and supplying skiploaders, hookloaders and wet kits, as well as full in-house shotblasting and paint. The judges praised Thompsons “entertaining” entry for standing out and demonstrating strong business growth.

Over the past twelve months Wilcox Commercial Vehicles has worked hard on new designs for their products to improve safety and efficiency at work for their customers. Products developed over that time include: an aggregate and asphalt walking floor rigid body and trailer, in conjunction with Biker Group and safe entry into an insulated (for carrying asphalt and aggregates) body without climbing over the headboard - a solution developed in conjunction with Cemex. Wilcox now employs 120 staff and has grown from a turnover of £13m to £19m in the last four years, suppling some 400 units four years ago to over 700 units into the UK this year. The judges praised the good innovation on known health and safety issues in the tipper market, and well as its good growth in sales.

About the Author


George Barrow

George Barrow has been writing about nearly anything with wheels for the past 15 years, starting off his career in the car industry and ending up in commercial vehicles via a brief detour to cover technology, science and start-ups. Often found behind the wheel of a new product, his real interest lies in the business side of the automotive industry. George is the UK jury member of the International Van of the Year and International Pick-Up Award.

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