Intercounty Truck & Van win Team of the Year award at the Commercial Motor Awards 2022!

Intercounty Truck & Van win Team of the Year award at the Commercial Motor Awards 2022!

On Thursday 08th December 2022, Intercounty Truck & Van were awarded ‘Team of the Year’ at Commercial Motor’s Road Transport Ball held at The Vox, Birmingham.

The Road Transport Ball, which combines the Commercial Motor Awards, the Thompsons Tipper Awards and the British Truck Racing Championship Awards celebrates the strength and excellence of teams working in the road transport industry.

Looking Glamorous: On the night, Demi Chapman (Left ) - Truck Bookings and Sharon Hurst (Right ) - Retail Van Bookings collected the award of behalf of the Central Bookings Team at Intercounty Truck & Van

The Team of the Year awards, sponsored by Asset Alliance Group, rewards exceptional teams who have been able to demonstrate consistent service levels to their customers in the past 12 months.

To be shortlisted for this award, the judges looked for evidence of establishing long-term customer relationships and genuine teamwork, tailored packages and services to support customers and innovative initiatives that help improve the road transport industry and the operations of customers.

The judging process was then opened up to Commercial Motor readers and businesses to vote and decide who the winner will be.

On the night, host Justin Moorhouse announced:

“Changes to the way they handle customer bookings with a new centralised service, has improved performance and allowed them to provide even better and more consistence customer service for their aftersales customers. This team has built great relationships and trust with their customers with their efficient and seamless professional experience”

Kim Horsman, Head of Marketing and Central Service at Intercounty Truck & Van has said “So proud of the team and how far they’ve come! We’ve met plenty of obstacles along the way since bringing our Truck and Van service bookings centrally, but consistency and customer service focus has been the key.”


Sapphire technicians join the heavy mob thanks to skills conversion programme

Sapphire technicians join the heavy mob thanks to skills conversion programme

Independent commercial repair specialist Sapphire Vehicle Services has hit on an innovative answer to the difficulty of recruiting qualified truck maintenance specialists – by launching a course to give car and van technicians the skills they need to look after HGVs.

The company’s first intake of six candidates are nearing the end of their training and, says Group Operations Manager Dave Williams, plans are already in place to repeat the exercise.

“We’re always on the lookout for competent and experienced truck technicians but there’s a shortage of qualified people across the country,” said Dave. “So we decided to be proactive and train our own.”

Sapphire already runs a successful apprenticeship programme aimed at candidates entering the industry for the first time but the new scheme runs alongside that and aims to provide a quicker fix.

“We’re taking car and van technicians who are already level-three qualified, and giving them an intensive, one-year course to equip them with the specialised knowledge and skills to work on heavy vehicles,” Dave explained.

The six started their training in February, and will complete six one-week blocks across a 12-month period before a final assessment. All are working full-time in Sapphire workshops across the country – in Bedford, Dartford, Northampton, and East Kilbride in Scotland – and hopes are high that every one of the six will pass with flying colours

One of two trainee technicians based at Sapphire’s Northampton depot is 31-year-old Isaac Adusei, who has eight years’ experience working on cars and vans.

“I’ve always been interested in developing my skill set and learning more about different vehicle classes, so the opportunity to join this programme was certainly attractive,” he said. “Since joining I’ve already achieved my BPW Axles certification and am keen to carry on my training, even after this course is finished.

“I’ve also been really impressed with the set-up at Sapphire, where there is a very positive emphasis on staff development. I’ve been supported all the way, with mentoring from Depot Manager Garry Craddock and colleagues, and am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified member of the team.”

Dave Williams added: “Isaac and fellow Northampton trainee Tom Saunders have really grasped the opportunity we’ve given them – but so have all six of the guys we recruited for this initiative. We’ll continue to look for imaginative ways to boost our staff with top-quality people but the upskilling programme has certainly been a success.”

One of Britain’s most successful independent commercial vehicle aftersales providers, Sapphire Vehicle Services looks after upwards of 28,000 trucks and vans at its 19 workshops nationwide, for a client portfolio that includes some of the biggest names in the supermarket sector.

Earlier this year auditors from the British Assessment Bureau declaring themselves happy with the Sapphire’s “inspirational leadership” and high level of “staff engagement”, when awarding the coveted ISO9001:2015 certificate in recognition of the company’s commitment to quality management, to cover the head office in Appleby Magna, Derbyshire, and all 14 workshops around the UK.

Looking up: Truck training is a positive career move for Isaac Adusei, right, with mentor Garry Craddock
Deeper understanding: Isaac Adusei, centre, demonstrates his knowledge to trainers Tony Hewins, right, and Garry Craddock

Sapphire’s 14-bay Basingstoke workshop promises sparkling back-up

Sapphire’s 14-bay Basingstoke workshop promises sparkling back-up

Independent repair specialist Sapphire Vehicle Services can now offer truck operators in and around north Hampshire support so good, it’s approved by not one but two leading manufacturers.

Sapphire’s Basingstoke depot is set up to look after trucks, trailers and vans of all makes – but has also won recognition as an authorised repairer of both Isuzu and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

One of Britain’s most successful independent commercial vehicle aftersales providers, Sapphire Vehicle Services looks after upwards of 28,000 trucks and vans at its 19 workshops nationwide, for a client portfolio that includes some of the biggest names in the supermarket sector.

Sapphire took on the Basingstoke facility in 2018. Since then its team has been responsible for keeping vehicles including one customer’s fleet of more than 500 tractor units, rigid trucks and semi-trailers on the road and performing with optimum efficiency.

As an authorised repairer the facility is now able to work on Isuzu’s range of Grafter, N55-75 and F110-135 rigids, which span the range from 3.5 to 13.5 tonnes gvw, as well as Mercedes-Benz Actros, Arocs, Atego and Econic models, covered by the manufacturers’ contract maintenance plans – and can also undertake warranty repairs.

Ideally located on the site of Sainsbury’s Houndsmill Distribution Centre, a stone’s throw from the A339 Ringway and less than three miles from Junction 6 of the M3, Sapphire Vehicle Services’ Basingstoke operation is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The workshop is fully geared-up to maintain and repair semi-trailers as well as trucks. It has 14 bays, two with 35-metre pits and another with an 18-metre pit, and is comprehensively equipped with diagnostic and other tooling. Inspectors from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency carry out truck MOT Tests in its dedicated Authorised Testing Facility, while another lane is dedicated to calibrations and other work on tachographs.

The site also boasts its own bodyshop and holds extensive stocks of truck and trailer parts, while the customer reception and waiting area has been smartly refurbished. Further services available include tail lift repairs and LOLER inspections, 24-hour breakdown and recovery assistance, and access through other Sapphire group divisions to rental, contract hire and full fleet management packages.

Sapphire Vehicle Services is led by Managing Director Perry Reeves, a seasoned industry professional, but day-to-day running of the Basingstoke site is in the hands VMU Manager Steve Wright and Parts Manager Phil Savage.

Perry said: “We’d already brought in a new management team at Basingstoke before work on this project began 18 months ago. We’ve also spent in excess of £150,000 – and a lot of time and effort – to ensure the building is fully compliant with our authorised repairer status.

“Our aim at Sapphire Vehicles Services is to provide customers with exemplary standards of ‘one-stop shop’ aftersales support. The brand expertise that we have within the team at Basingstoke, coupled with the fact that we can undertake R&M contract and warranty work, means we’re now able to provide local operators with a truly comprehensive service in which they can have total confidence.”

For more information about what Sapphire vehicle services can offer contact the Basingstoke team on 01256 686048, or Service Manager Steve Wright on 07342 080364

Leading from the front: Sapphire Vehicle Services’ Basingstoke VMU Manager Steve Wright, right, is pictured with Grant Tadman, the company’s Regional Manager – South
At your service: Members of Sapphire Vehicle Services’ Basingstoke workshop team, from left, Mark Brooks, Ashley Vickers, Russell Taylor, Lee Treasurer and John Leigh

Montgomery Transport Group to attend Multimodal 2023

Montgomery Transport Group to attend Multimodal 2023

13 – 15 JUN 2023

Stand number: 2035

Montgomery Transport Group aims to be the preferred haulier of freight moving between UK and Ireland.

The Group comprises four divisions:

Montgomery Transport Ltd
Major UK & Ireland FTL operator with principle routes operating between the UK & Ireland from multiple sites.

Equipment Profile:

  • 135 tractor units
  • 580 ambient trailers including: 2.9m internal height curtain-siders & 3.1m internal height curtain-siders
  • Box vans

Market Segments:
Montgomery Transport operates largely in FMCG, retail / wholesale, manufacturing & construction offering a range of just-in-time services.

A large fleet size means capacity to cope with spikes in volume or demand and cater for companies requiring multiple trailers and seasonal volume on a daily basis year round. Utilisation of over 90% of available shipping routes to Ireland gives greater flexibility when restrictions are in place due to weather or other factors.

Montgomery Distribution Ltd
An extensive pallet & LTL distribution network throughout the UK & Ireland; operating from multiple depots around the UK means capacity to handle in excess of 1,500 consignments per day to the highest standard.

Four own operated distribution sites

  • Preston, Leeds, Rugby & Belfast

Five partner operated distribution sites

  • Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, Nottingham & Glasgow

Member of Palletways

  • Montgomery Distribution cover three territories on behalf of Palletways: Manchester, Rugby/South Leicestershire and Northern Ireland
  • Palletways is the UK’s largest pallet network handling circa 22,000 pallets per night with a 25% market share in the UK
  • With a Pan-European Service offering Palletways provides regular connections to 20 European countries with a combined throughput of 40,000 pallets per night
  • Palletways services cover all UK & Ireland using market leading technology allowing real time track & trace of consignments

Montgomery Tank Services Ltd
Service Offering

  • Montgomery Tank Services help customers develop and maintain an efficient, best cost solution to serve supply chain for products that are transported in bulk tankers
  • Develop solutions long, medium and short-term for challenges in either dedicated or shared-user tankers

Sectors Served
Operating throughout the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, Montgomery Tank Services have a wide range of equipment serving the following markets in liquid and powder formats:

  • Food
  • Chemicals
  • Construction

Montgomery Freight Management Ltd
Worldwide operations of land, air and sea movements operating as a NVOCC allowing Montgomery Transport Group to service every customers entire scope of logistical requirements.

European Express Road Services

  • Dependability through regular short sea services
  • Flexibility through use of multiple European based asset operators

Ocean Freight

  • Multiple options for organisation of FCL & LCL Worldwide Ocean Freight movements
  • Choice of schedules, transit times and commercial operations as NVOCC

Air Freight

  • Experienced in specialised air freight movements
  • Adaptable service depending on customer requirements and airline routes

UK Domestic Freight Management

  • Internal UK Mainland full load management service of ad hoc FTLs through a range of reputable 3rd party hauliers

Latest newsletter from Sapphire Vehicle Services


Best UK chooses the UK’s best low-entry mixer, a Mercedes-Benz Econic from Intercounty Truck & Van

Best UK chooses the UK’s best low-entry mixer, a Mercedes-Benz Econic from Intercounty Truck & Van

“For this application there’s nothing to touch the Econic,” he said. “It combines the reliable, cost-effective performance for which Mercedes-Benz is renowned, with fantastic visibility from the low-entry cab.”
When Best UK Transport needed another concrete mixer truck for work in and around London, owner-driver Andrei Balean returned without hesitation for a second eight-wheeled Mercedes-Benz Econic.

Vision on: Best UK Transport’s Andrei Balean benefits from the Econic’s clear field of view

Ilford-based Andrei acquired his latest vehicle from the Peterborough branch of Dealer Intercounty Truck & Van. It wears the colours of leading customer Hanson UK, and works from the concrete giant’s depot in Dagenham, Essex, delivering to construction sites throughout London.

Best UK Transport’s new truck is fitted with an 8m3 Schwing Stetter drum. As a 3235 L variant it employs a 7.7-litre six-cylinder engine that produces 260 kW (354 hp) and drives through a fuel-efficient 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual transmission.

The truck’s ENA configuration – single front steer axle, double-drive bogie and rear-steer axle – gives it an impressively tight turning circle. The resulting, enhanced manoeuvrability compared to a standard 32-tonne construction eight-wheeler is a major advantage for operation in the capital.

A driver for 20 years, Andrei established Best UK Transport in 2011. His company, which holds Silver accreditation from FORS (the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme), also runs a second Econic – a 68-plate model with McPhee mixer – and an 8×4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs tipper, purchased as a used truck in 2020.

The Econic’s deep, panoramic windscreen and the full-height, glazed folding side door chosen by Best UK afford unrivalled visibility. Coupled with a seating position which is much lower than that of a conventional construction vehicle, this allows drivers to make direct eye contact with vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, a major advantage in enabling each to understand the other’s intentions.

Thus specified, the Econic achieves the highest five-star Direct Vision Standard rating from Transport for London. Safety-focused Hanson UK, which is part of the Heidelberg Cement Group, runs a substantial fleet of its own Econics, and encourages its franchisees – particularly those operating in urban areas – to do likewise.

Best UK Transport’s Econic is also equipped with Active Brake Assist 5 emergency braking technology, which boasts an industry-leading pedestrian recognition capability, and an Electronic Parking Brake that is applied automatically when the engine is switched off.

Active Brake Assist 5 combines camera and radar technology to detect vehicles ahead and stationary objects in its own lane, at speeds of up to 56 mph (90 km/h). Detection of a dangerous situation triggers a three-stage reaction: first, the system warns the driver with visual and audible alerts; then, if the driver fails to react, it applies partial (approximately 50%) braking; finally, if the driver has still not intervened, it initiates maximum braking to bring the truck to a halt, applying the Electronic Parking Brake and activating the hazard warning lights to alert drivers behind.

At speeds of up to 31 mph (50 km/h) Active Brake Assist 5 is capable of applying full braking when encountering pedestrians crossing its path, approaching from the front or walking ahead. Not only does this remarkable system increase safety for vulnerable road users and vehicle crews, but it also helps to relieve stress for drivers.

Andrei Balean said: “With the addition of a 360-degree camera system this Econic is the safest, most compliant vehicle available, and effectively future-proofs my business against any tightening of regulations that might be coming down the line.

“It’s also great to drive, the low seating position and wide field of vision making the job of negotiating busy city streets much less stressful. As an all-round package the Econic is unbeatable for this role.”

As with all new Econics supplied through the manufacturer’s UK Dealer network, Best UK Transport’s latest truck is covered by a three-year/160,000 km warranty.


KC Construction grabs its first new Mercedes-Benz Arocs from Midlands Truck & Van

KC Construction grabs its first new Mercedes-Benz Arocs from Midlands Truck & Van

So pleased was Nuneaton-based KC Construction with the two pre-owned Mercedes-Benz Arocs tipper-grabs it purchased last year, that it has now returned to Dealer Midlands Truck & Van for a new vehicle from the same muscular model range.

Unlike its two predecessors, the latest came with a full complement of advanced technology. Highlights include MirrorCam, the manufacturer’s ground-breaking, camera-based replacement for conventional mirrors, and the radical Multimedia Cockpit dashboard, with its twin, tablet-style screens.      

All three eight-wheelers have ClassicSpace cabs. However, while the used Arocs 3240s have short S-cabs with170mm engine tunnels, the new Arocs 3246 has the roomier M-cab and a 320mm tunnel, so driver Ben Thompson sits correspondingly lower.

His truck features the top-rated 355 kW (455 hp) version of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ 10.7-litre in-line six-cylinder powerplant; the other two employ the same engine but in 290 kW (394 hp) trim.

Like its predecessors, Ben’s Arocs has a roof-mounted light bar and sun visor, and shares the same combination of high-strength Thompson Loadmaster tipping body and Palfinger Epsilon M125L crane with Kinshofer clamshell bucket. The new truck stands out, though, thanks to its colour-coded bumpers and mudguards, and protective headlamp grilles.

KC Construction was established a decade ago by Kevin Casson. It operates in Coventry, throughout Warwickshire and beyond, and has forged ahead strongly over the last three or four years.

The company was already a customer of Midlands Truck Van before it bought its first Arocs. “Our only other truck is by another manufacturer, but it’s been maintained at the Mercedes-Benz Dealer’s Coventry workshop for some time now,” explained Mr Casson. “The service is excellent, not least because they have a technician who’s really good with electrical issues.”

KC Construction acquired its first Mercedes-Benz in April 2021, and the second three months later. “The Dealer did a great job of sourcing and preparing both trucks,” recalled Mr Casson. “They’ve been absolutely fantastic and the drivers love them.”

The Mercedes-Benz Arocs is purpose-designed for construction-related applications. “It’s extremely robust and ideally suited to our kind of work,” he said. “The Arocs performs particularly well in quarries, where the suspension system excels and the high ground clearance also helps. At around 16 tonnes, payloads are pretty good too.”

Commenting on the decision to purchase a new vehicle this time, he continued: “Business has been good and we felt the enhanced warranty would give us that extra bit of security. We trialled one of Midlands Truck & Van’s demonstrators for a couple of weeks and were really impressed.

“We’ve gone for the bigger cab and more powerful engine, and have also added some extra features. For example, the SM UK camera system has been integrated with the Multimedia Cockpit, so we don’t need an extra screen, and we’ve also specified Thompson’s on-board weighing system. The new truck is a great flagship for our business.”     

Driver Ben Thompson is every bit as enthusiastic. “My Arocs feels as though it’s built to carry weight over challenging surfaces – off-road it takes the bumpiest terrain in its stride,” he reported. “I also like the new dashboard, which looks great and is really easy to operate.

“MirrorCam takes a little bit of getting used to but once you’ve done so there are major benefits. The fact that the cameras are mounted on the roof means that on narrow lanes I’m not dragging them through hedges, while the lenses don’t get anything like as dirty as mirrors when I’m working in a quarry. Plus, of course, removal of the mirrors also eliminates a big forward-facing blind spot.”

Like its two used Arocs, KC Construction’s new truck is now being inspected and maintained under a Mercedes-Benz Complete Service Contract. “We use Midlands Truck & Van’s branch in Smethwick as well,” said Kevin Casson. “As with Coventry, the back-up is brilliant.”

Three of a kind: KC Construction’s new 8×4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs is pictured, right, with the two pre-owned examples supplied by Midlands Truck & Van last year

Aftersales wins another sale: Midlands Truck & Van’s customer-focused back-up was instrumental in convincing KC Construction’s Kevin Casson to invest in the new Arocs

Three of a kind: KC Construction’s new 8x4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs is pictured, right, with the two pre-owned examples supplied by Midlands Truck & Van last year
Aftersales wins another sale: Midlands Truck & Van’s customer-focused back-up was instrumental in convincing KC Construction’s Kevin Casson to invest in the new Arocs

Message from the Directors and Officers of Ballyvesey Holdings Limited

Following the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the Directors and Officers of Ballyvesey Holdings Limited would join with the nation in sending their deepest sympathy to the new King and the Royal Family.

We know many of our employees will be feeling a sense of shock, sorrow, and grief. For those of us in the United Kingdom she was, with the greatest respect, “Our Queen”, the only monarch we have ever known, a consistent presence in every life throughout the seven decades of her reign; we mourn her passing.


Concrete operator TGA settles on the perfect mix – Mercedes-Benz Arocs backed by Intercounty Truck & Van

Highly competitive running costs and “amazing” aftersales support led mixer hire specialist TGA Haulage back to Intercounty Truck & Van for another pair of Mercedes-Benz eight-wheelers.

The Peterborough-based company was established by Tom Allen in 2014, shortly after he and his father – who were then working in partnership under a different name – purchased one of the first vehicles from the purpose-designed Arocs construction range to be supplied by the Dealer.

Allen’s key to success:
TGA’s Tom at the wheel of one of his latest Mercedes-Benz Arocs truck mixers, which have Streamspace sleeper cabs with 170mm engine tunnels, and fridges and drawers beneath the beds

While TGA Haulage’s business has evolved over the last eight years, from ready-mix and floor screed work undertaken directly for locally-based customers, to nationwide vehicle and driver rental services, so, too, has its fleet profile.

Having initially favoured a Swedish truck brand, Mr Allen has gradually phased out these vehicles and replaced them with more by Mercedes-Benz. Today, TGA runs seven Arocs – most are standard 32-tonne 8x4s, although the line-up also includes an ENA model with single front steer axle, double-drive bogie and rear-steer axle, and a 6×4 26-tonner.

Like the single vehicle it purchased from Intercounty Truck & Van last year, the company’s latest mixers are both 3243 variants and came with a full complement of advanced technology including MirrorCam, the manufacturer’s ground-breaking replacement for conventional mirrors.

Other standard-fit equipment includes Active Brake Assist 5 emergency braking with industry-leading pedestrian-recognition capability, and the enhanced Predictive Powertrain Control system, which manages gear changes and ensures that full use is made of the Mercedes PowerShift 3 transmission’s Eco Roll function to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Meanwhile, Multimedia Cockpit, interactive, the optionally upgraded version of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ radical, twin screen dashboard, boasts a larger, 12in instrument panel, and comes with extra functionality, including satellite navigation.

TGA’s new Arocs have StreamSpace sleeper cabs which, at 2.3m, are in the narrower of the two widths available. They are smartly finished with colour-coded bumpers and grilles, while Dura-Bright alloy wheels add an extra dash of style, as well as saving weight.

The trucks’10.7-litre in-line six-cylinder engines produce 315 kW (428 hp) and drive through 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual transmissions. Their 7.5m3 drums are by Motherwell-based McPhee Mixers, Mr Allen’s preferred bodybuilder.

Tom Allen explained: “I like the idea of uniformity within the fleet, and the Arocs is now firmly established in my mind as the best vehicle for our kind of work. It’s beautifully put together and a real pleasure to drive, particularly the latest examples, which are loaded with technology that makes life safer and more comfortable for the individual at the wheel.

“I’m a big fan of MirrorCam, which provides much improved visibility. The images from the roof-mounted cameras remain crisp and clear, even when it’s raining, which means you no longer have the hassle of wiping the water and road debris from standard wing mirrors.”

He continued: “Factor in the Mercedes-Benz truck’s fuel-efficiency and attractive overall running costs, and the high ground clearance that gives it a big advantage when working on rough terrain, and it all adds up to a very compelling proposition.”

Even the best trucks, however, are only as good as the support behind them. Here, too, Tom Allen knows he is onto a winner. “Truck Sales Executive Paul Hind looks after me really well, while his colleagues at Intercounty Truck & Van’s workshop here in Peterborough are nothing short of amazing,” declared Mr Allen.

“The Arocs is supremely reliable but you’ll always get the occasional breakdown. Crucially, the Dealer’s team understand how important it is for a small-scale operator like me, to avert the crisis that can result from unplanned vehicle downtime.

“They’ve been a lifeline on more than one occasion, providing fast, efficient roadside assistance and coming up with temporary fixes that have kept me on the road until issues could be fully resolved.

“Great customer service is all about the personal touch, and in my experience nobody does it better than Intercounty Truck & Van.”


Sapphire shines brighter with ISO9001 certification

Sapphire shines brighter with ISO9001 certification

Independent truck and van repairer Sapphire Vehicle Services has been rewarded for its commitment to quality management, with accreditation to the ISO9001:2015 standard.

ISO9001:2015 is recognised as the world’s leading quality management system and achieving this benchmark means Sapphire customers can be sure the company is dedicated to providing the highest levels of service.

Meeting the required standard to gain the coveted ISO status means going through an exacting evaluation process. In Sapphire’s case, two auditors from the British Assessment Bureau spent six days scrutinising process and management controls, visiting sites across the national network and interviewing employees.

Declaring themselves happy with the Sapphire’s “inspirational leadership” and high level of “staff engagement”, they awarded the ISO9001:2015 to cover the head office in Appleby Magna, Derbyshire, and all 14 of the company’s workshops around the UK.

The British Assessment Bureau approval – given on behalf of UKAS, the government backed National Accreditation Body for the United Kingdom – allows Sapphire to use the ‘Crown and Tick’ logo, which is considered to be the gold standard in ISO certification.

Sapphire Process & Compliance Manager Kevin Buswell led the team responsible for submitting the company’s application and then seeing through all the steps that led ultimately to accreditation.

“This is a major achievement for Sapphire, with very few independent motor vehicle repairers holding the ISO9001:2015 accreditation and even fewer with UKAS accreditation,” he said.

“It has only been achieved thanks to the dedication and hard work of colleagues at all levels, from our engaged leadership and management team to the people on the workshop floors.”

He continued: “Our workshop teams, led by Operations Manager Dave Williams, really bought into this project. The systems we put in place for all managers to engage, feed back and share best practices have allowed us to markedly improve our quality management processes across all 14 of our sites. And it doesn’t stop here – we’ll continue to push forward to deliver the best customer experience possible.”

To maintain the drive for improvement Sapphire has recruited Compliance Auditor Ben Cotton, who joined Kevin’s team in June and will spend much of his time touring the company’s network of workshops to support and engage with managers and their technicians.

Dave Williams added: “Ultimately, as well as improving internal management processes, we believe that achieving ISO9001:2015 accreditation will help us stand proud from the competition and win more business. Customers are already giving us highly positive feedback about our service levels and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to show more operators how effectively we can care for their fleets.”


Sapphire rolls on in joint venture with BPW

Independent truck and van repairer Sapphire Vehicle Services has joined forces with renowned axle manufacturer BPW to offer a streamlined, ‘one-stop shop’ service.

Sapphire is one of Britain’s most successful independent commercial vehicle repairers. BPW Ltd is the UK division of Europe’s leading trailer axle and suspension manufacturer. By working together, the two companies aim to reduce costly downtime and ease maintenance headaches for their customers.

As an accredited BPW Maintenance Provider and Service Station, Sapphire is committed to meeting strict standards. Its workshops must be equipped with special BPW diagnostic and maintenance tools, and hold comprehensive stocks of spare parts, while technicians undergo product-specific training. Regular audits are carried out to ensure customer service levels are kept uniformly high.

“The arrangement makes perfect sense,” said Sapphire’s Group Operations Manager, Dave Williams. “Our national network of dedicated vehicle maintenance units, and the new all-makes workshops that we’re now opening to all operators, already deal with trailers running on BPW equipment on a daily basis – approximately half of all the work we do is on trailers, and nearly all of those are fitted with BPW components.

“By entering a formal partnership we can now work together even more closely to offer a seamless service to those customers, to help get their vehicles through our workshops and back onto the road, where they earn their keep, as quickly as possible. For example, before gaining this accreditation any warranty issues would have to be sent out to an approved service agent – now, in most cases, we can deal with those in-house.”

The arrangement covers all 19 of Sapphire’s sites across the UK – every one of which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – as well as the mobile service vans which are based at each location. These now have the BPW Authorised Repairer logo added to their liveries, to reflect the partnership between the two brands.

“These vans, and Sapphire’s workshop technicians, will be the visible face of BPW Customer Services for many operators who use our axles and components,” said Michael Stayman, BPS National Maintenance Network and Fleet Sales Manager. “We already know that Sapphire provides extremely high service levels – they were comfortably ahead of the minimum standard required before we started this process. With the parts stocks and extra product expertise that we have added to the mix, customers can be assured they’ll be very well looked after.”

Working together: Dave Williams, left, and Michael Stayman
Customer service: A technician in Sapphire Vehicle Services’ Tamworth workshop checks a BPW axle

Sapphire gives operators a helping hand with new fleet management service

Sapphire Vehicle Services – already one of Britain’s most successful independent commercial vehicle repairers – has extended the range of solutions it offers to customers by launching a fleet management division.

Sapphire Fleet Services is the Derbyshire-based group’s newest brand, designed to take away the headaches of running delivery vehicles and allow operators to concentrate on what they do best.

“For many companies, owning and operating a fleet is not their core business,” explains Sapphire’s Head of Fleet Services, Paul West.

“Those who make or build products need to get their goods to their customers, for example – but their expertise tends to be in manufacturing not distribution.

“By allowing Sapphire Fleet Services to take over the management of their entire delivery operation, they can rest easy in the knowledge that not only are their vehicles being deployed with optimum efficiency and safety, they are also guaranteed to be legally compliant.”

The idea for a fleet management service came about after Sapphire was approached by one of its existing customers – which runs a line-up of trucks to provide traffic management and other services to utility contractors.

“We were already looking after the repair and maintenance of the vehicles, but the customer asked whether we would consider taking over management of its fleet,” says Paul. “With our expertise, experience and national network of facilities, it was clear we were ideally positioned to offer a high-quality, cost-effective and hassle-free solution not just to this business but to others too.”

Other customers quickly came on board and Sapphire is now in discussion with more operators – and offering its fleet management services to others.

“Every customer is different and their needs vary from case to case,” says Paul. “The Sapphire advantage is that we are big enough to take on the management of any fleet, but small enough to offer packages tailored to the individual needs of each particular operation.”

Sapphire Fleet Services can take over responsibility for maintaining trucks or vans of any size, configuration or brand, including all service planning and MOT scheduling, vehicle inspections and DVSA tests, as well as looking after account management, reporting of Key Performance Indicators, Road Fund Licence renewals, and even taking on existing drivers and support staff via TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – regulations.

Sapphire Vehicle Services is already a familiar name to many of the UK’s leading transport operators – it maintains upwards of 28,000 trucks and vans for its clients, in dedicated Vehicle Maintenance Units and independent all-makes workshops across the country. These offer inspection, maintenance and repair of all trucks, vans and trailers, including MoT preparation, and have mobile service vans equipped to undertake roadside repairs as well as technicians specifically trained to work on electric vehicles. All are open 24 hours a day.

Through its parent company, Northern Ireland-based Ballyvesey Holdings, Sapphire can also provide customers with vehicles on contract hire, lease or spot rental, as well as vehicle disposal services.

“There are literally tens of thousands of trucks and vans out on the roads, which are kept running smoothly by Sapphire workshops,” asserts Paul. “So even customers who have never heard of us can have complete confidence in our exemplary standards of support.

“By adding a full fleet management service to the packages we offer, Sapphire is becoming a true one-stop shop for everything truck and van operators need.”

Sapphire Vehicle Services operates 19 busy and successful vehicle maintenance units across Britain. Other divisions of parent company Ballyvesey Holdings work across related sectors including transport and logistics, truck sales and aftersales support, trailer manufacturing, transport industry services, construction equipment sales and property development.

At your service: Paul West, second left, with (from left) colleagues Dean Woods, Aaron Sherman and Ian Evans
Happy to help: Head of Fleet Services Paul West

Two more Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks keep Formula One in pole position

Two more Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks keep Formula One in pole position

The Formula One Group knows a winner when it sees one – which explains why the West Midlands-based fabricator and installer of premium-quality UPVC windows, doors and conservatories has been relying on Mercedes-Benz trucks since it began trading 24 years ago.

The recent arrivals of another couple mean it now runs a fleet of five eye-catching Atego 7.5-tonners, all of which were supplied by Midlands Truck & Van.

The Formula One Group commenced manufacturing operations in 1998, at the head office in Walsall that it still shares with associate business Rapid Frame. From the outset, Formula One sold its products nationwide on a supply-only basis. However, since opening a retail branch in Telford in 2009 it has also carried out installations at more than 2,500 homes across Shropshire and the West Midlands.

The company’s latest Atego are both 818 variants with 5.1-litre four-cylinder engines that produce 130 kW (177 hp) and drive through six-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual transmissions.

Their ClassicSpace S-cabs have optional ventilated driver’s suspension seats with integral armrests and were smartly finished at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Deep Black. Likewise the trucks’ roof-mounted air deflectors and box bodies, which are by Fred Smith & Sons, of West Bromwich.

Purpose-designed for light- and medium-duty distribution work, and construction applications, the Atego range from 7.5 to 16 tonnes GVW offers precise handling with exceptional ride comfort, and is renowned for its reliability and durability.

That reputation is certainly borne out by Formula One’s experience. Owner and Managing Director Martin Corcoran explained: “We take great pride in providing first class service and will always go the extra mile to ensure total customer satisfaction.

“It’s imperative to the success of our business that we honour the delivery commitments we make. We’ve always relied on the Atego because we know it won’t let us down. Ours average 75,000 miles a year but we still have a 2016-registered truck that’s now covered 1.2 million miles and continues to do a great job, day in, day out.”

Mr Corcoran continued: “In addition to its fantastic build quality the Atego is very smooth and comfortable, which is crucial given the distances our drivers have to cover. It’s also fuel-efficient, cost-effective to operate and, being a Mercedes-Benz, the safest vehicle in its weight class.”

Image is key to the Atego’s appeal as well. “The three-pointed star is an internationally recognised symbol of quality,” said Mr Corcoran. “As such, it complements our own brand values perfectly. Just like our Mercedes-Benz trucks, superior design, technical excellence, reliability and durability are all hallmarks of the Formula One Range™.”

Completing the picture for the Formula One Group is the customer-focused aftersales support it receives from the workshop team at the branch in Smethwick that Midlands Truck & Van opened at the end of 2020. “The Dealer is excellent in its response to any issues that crop up,” added Mr Corcoran.

Advancing with Atego: Formula One Group Managing Director Martin Corcoran and Sales & Marketing Manager Annabel Russell know they can rely on their Mercedes-Benz trucks

Montracon provide 3 brand new curtainsiders for Simpsons Premium Ltd

Montracon provide 3 brand new curtainsiders for Simpsons Premium Ltd, as always manufactured with quality, strength and longevity built-in.

Montracon curtainsiders are now part of the Simpsons Premium Ltd fleet. Initially providing three brand new curtainsiders, Simpsons have committed to ordering more of the same from Montracon. Craig from Simpsons has working hand in hand with our area sales manager Bob Acton to ensure the trailers are built to Simpsons Premium Ltd specifications, which are:

  • Postless Curtainsiders for clear side loading aperture
  • Mix of 4m & 4.2m over all height for operations into Europe as well as the UK
  • Full LED light package
  • Rear mounted dump plate
  • ENXL rated
  • Lift axle
  • Toolbox
  • TRI Cord for load security
  • Soft Docking system
  • Spare wheel carrier
  • 29mm hard wood flooring

Here’s what Craig Simpson had to say:

“We have had three curtain side trailers from Montracon in the last two years and all the trailers are manufactured to a very high standard, digital print and livery. These trailers were all delivered on time and within budget. Bob Acton was our contact from start to finish and made the process very easy. Highly recommend Montracon trailers and will certainly be using them in the future.” Craig Simpson – Simpsons Premium.

Montraon curtainsiders

Simpsons Premium Ltd, with the help of leading nutritionists, we have created a wide range of wet and dry food with your pet in mind, taking into consideration their health, wellbeing and dietary requirements. For dogs, we have varying flavours of sensitive, grain-free, Organic and high-meat dog food, as well as puppy food that provides all the nutrients for a growing dog. For cats, we have wet and dry food made with a range of healthy ingredients, as well as an organic wet adult food that will give your feline a balanced, natural diet.

Montracon are pleased that we can continue to support Simpsons Premium Ltd with all their trailer needs.

Whatever the application, Montracon has the curtainsider tailored for the job. Operators have the choice from a straight frame single deck to a high volume step frame double decker. These curtainsider models are all available with a fuel friendly canted roof line and side skirts and are also mounted on either tandem or triaxle bogies. All of our curtainsider models are offered with a full range of options designed to maximise your operating flexibility and your fleet efficiency. Our Curtainsider trailer manufacturing is of the highest engineering quality.

As well as postless curtainsiders, Montracon’s production excellence is founded on solid engineering principles in manufacturing trailers to the highest standard. With quality, strength and longevity being the company’s underlying values. Have a look at our range of trailers here.