Dealer of the Year Award 2022 - Vote for the winner at https://roadtransportball.co.uk/the-judging
Formed in September 2020, taking over from a bankrupt business, eStar’s immediate objective was to keep its five sites running across the North West and North Wales, so customers didn’t have any break in their vital repair and maintenance work. A complete change in culture has been introduced with openness, honesty, and transparency, with all decisions communicated with the team, and far more visibility. As a result the business went from making significant losses under the previous leadership to sizeable profit.
Their old Liverpool and Warrington sites have been closed and two brand new sites in Knowsley; one dedicated to Van, and one to Truck have been opened. A combined £3.2m investment across 68,500 sq ft.
The Senior Leadership Team and Board has attracted quality people with more than 312 years of Mercedes-Benz experience and 525 years of industry experience.
eStar has also made a very public commitment to its colleagues and customers that they are here to work in partnership, consultatively and sustainably, for now and for the future. Further investment will be made in Trafford Park, which will create a split between van and truck servicing on site, mirroring the success of the Knowsley sites.
Hartshorne Group believe their ability to build long-lasting relationships with customers, manufacturers and suppliers is crucial to everything that they do.
A significant £7.5m investment in a new energy-efficient depot at Walsall that will be equipped to support the transition to heavyweight electric vehicles has been made which includes provision for vehicles using alternative fuels, such as LNG and hydrogen.
Spread across nine sites in the Midlands, including depots at Alfreton, Burton, Birmingham, Nottingham, Potteries (Newcastle-under-Lyme), Shrewsbury and Walsall, Hartshorne Group has achieved a 98% first time MoT pass rate, and manages to source 99% of all parts requests before the next day. It also claims to have a 100% customer satisfaction rating for sales and delivery. Hartshorne has also been named as Volvo Trucks first global Sustainability Champion for 2021/22 and has launcheda a Healthy Heart Campaign with West Midlands Ambulance Service to install heart defibrillators in schools. Recently, 10 apprentices have been taken on as part of a rolling programme to train technicians. In total, they have 33 apprentices and this year a member of their Shrewsbury team, William Guest, was the first HGV apprentice in England to be awarded a distinction for the IMI Heavy Vehicle End Point Assessment.
Hartshorne has upgraded their parts delivery service to electric vans supplied by LEVC.
In the last 12 months, MV Commercial has seen one of the most significant developments in the company’s history. With the acquisition of the Grantham-based tipping trailer and truck body manufacturer Fruehauf, the organisation has acquired an established, strategically located sales and service depot that greatly extends its product offering to meet the demands of the sector. The company reported record turnover for the year to June 2022with a 37% increase on 2021. The increase in MV’s specialist vehicle build and supply program is also bucking market trends at a challenging time for the industry. MV has planned its forward order bank with truck manufacturers, crane manufacturers and many equipment suppliers for chassis, cranes and ancillary equipment enabling its body build partners to understand expected volumes for the coming 18 months and with its ‘Ready to Go’ programme, MV also has the confidence to build for stock, knowing that there is a regular demand from its customer base.
MV is serving an increasing number of operators and ongoing investment in the business has spurred expansion at the company’s 90,000 sq ft headquarters in Airdrie. Significant funding has gone into new paint booths, new vans for mobile technicians and in recruiting staff to meet the demand of the company’s increasing fleet and customer base; the workforce has increased by 10% across the company to nearly 200. Eight new paint bays, one of which has a full length pit for improved quality on chassis and underside painting, are part of a multimillion pound investment programme which includes electric vehicle charging points, ATF lane upgrades and an onsite weigh bridge. MV’s Oxford base opened last year, and continues to attract new customers while existing depots in Luton, Haydock and Wigan have also experienced a post-COVID boost in business.
Northside Truck & Van
Described by themselves as a “dynamic forward-thinking business that thrives on innovation”, Northside Truck & Van is continually striving for industry leading solutions and has been “mutating into a business fit for the future”.
There franchises of Mercedes Benz Truck and Bus, Mercedes Benz Van, Fuso and Maxus are all the largest by sales volume.
2022 has seen Northside grow on its strong ethos of being a good employer, growing its healthcare platform and giving all employees access to a doctor, as well as organising social and work activities with employees and customers.
Sales of vehicles continued to rise and dealing with delays through component issues has been the theme of the year. However, Northside says: “customer received the very best service from start to finish in the toughest of times all brought about by communication, yes good old-fashioned talking and having a brew still works.”
Throughout 2022 customer satisfaction ratings hit new heights, with 81 out of 100 reviews rated at five stars.
Northside is very proud to be the first commercial vehicle dealer to achieve the EVA accreditation (Electric Vehicle Approved), and is the first UK Commercial dealer to achieve Cyber Essentials accreditation.
‘Northside Truck Pro’ is a mobile application, developed in-house, to allow customers to stay in touch with technical support teams, and allows drivers to ask any burning questions they may have, request a call-back, watch tutorial videos or even read the latest news.
RH Commercial Vehicles has topped Renault Trucks UK’s Driving Quality Programme (DQP) for a year and a half thanks to its 98% MoT pass rate, customer surveys, dealer audits, breakdown performance and recall completion.
It has invested in DVSA-approved tachograph centres in Alfreton and Leicester and its Northampton site now has a new seven-bay workshop and state-of-the-art parts department while Peterborough has seen additional vehicle lifts to increase the workshop capacity.
RH Commercials has sought to increase the availability of products to customers by partnering with Brian James Trailers (BJT) supplying a variety of trailers for commercial, construction, and multi-purpose use with a configurator for designing bespoke trailers. RHCV can tailor products to suit customer needs and is committed to servicing and repairing trailers allowing RHCV to provide the best customer service and form strong relationships and support.
The Nottingham site is now an EV repairer, and RH Commercials was handpicked as the only site in the region to host a demonstration fleet of the latest electric HGVs as part of Renault Trucks UK’s Electric Roadshow.
Rygor Commercial’s mission is: ‘To be a company where our team is proud to work and our customers come back, time and time again…because we set standards’.
Those standards include impressive sales and labour hours as well as improved employee retention and encouraging customer feedback surveys.
When it comes to innovation, Rygor Commercials believes it’s important to consider customers and their team. In 2022 they launched their first pair of electric mobile fleet servicing vans, in an effort to improve the green focus of the business and that of its customers. They have also been offering longer-term test-drives to allow customers to understand whether electric works for them.
Three fleet workshops have achieved industry-recognised accreditations with Southampton, Didcot and Reading VMU sites gaining BPW Accredited Maintenance Provider and Service Station status as well as becoming IRTE Workshop Accredited.
Rygor Commercials has also invested in a brand-new site in Reading with 44,000 sq. ft of space, a two pits truck workshop with ATF lane, tacho facility and van workshop with MoT lane and a ‘fast fit’ area, dedicated to express maintenance. Rygor Commercials further expanded its customer offering when it launched its Maxus franchise in Newbury.
Sparks Commercials is a leading family-run, independent truck and trailer service provider.
With continued growth over the last 30+ years they provide business continuity by ensuring customers’ vehicles are off the road for the shortest time possible. Their 24-hour workshop schedules are designed for maximum efficiency and provide convenient service windows for our customers. A fleet of 24 roadside assistance vehicles help with breakdowns while technicians use the latest diagnostic tools to help identify issues and get vehicles back on the road.
The business has grew in April 2022 with the acquisition of Renault Truck Commercials Exeter (now Sparks Commercials Exeter), extending their service reach into the South-West and beyond. Sparks continues to forge ahead, innovating as they go and improving service to ensure very high standards are maintained.
Watts Truck & Van
The 90-strong dealer team at Watts Truck & Van have produced record results this year despite component shortages and delayed delivery of new trucks. All three of its depots have also been awarded top DAF Category AA rating for the 6th consecutive year and they now have a 33.1% market share of new truck registrations in South Wales. Building on the high standard of performance of previous years, the team has made significant improvements in all key target areas, including truck sales deliveries, Paccar Financial sales, R&M Contracts, parts sales and MoT first time pass rate.
They have also received a special DAF UK award to recognise "100 years of excellence" for their "ongoing commitment and dedicated customer service".
An additional six apprentices have been added to the team, adding to the success of the programme which has created three master technicians, a regional parts manager and a truck Salesman over the last 10 years.
WTV is one of the eight centres of excellence for DAF Electric Vehicles and a new Authorised Test Facility at Swansea Depot offers customers improved efficiency.