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Midlands Truck & Van invests £7 million to deliver first-class Mercedes-Benz service for the ‘second city’

Taking shape: Midlands Truck & Van’s new Birmingham base is due to open in October

Operators of Mercedes-Benz and FUSO commercial vehicles in and around Birmingham can look forward to an even higher level of service when Midlands Truck & Van opens for business at a new, state-of-the-art dealership in the city.

Work on the £7-million project began late last year, and the Dealer is on schedule to welcome the first customers to its new home in Smethwick in October. 

The Service department at its current base in Saltley opens at 6am each Monday and then remains so, round-the-clock, until 1pm on Saturdays. Once the new workshop is fully operational and nearing maximum throughput capacity, the business will review its shift patterns to establish the viability of a seven-day working week.

This potential extension to opening times, coupled with the fact that the new facility will be considerably bigger and better equipped than Saltley’s, means that Midlands Truck & Van is aiming to double the number of labour hours it sells each month.

As well as oversight of the final phase of construction and fitting out, the recruitment of additional technicians and parts specialists is therefore high on the agenda for Managing Director Steve Hunt and his Service Director Michael Carolan. 

The dealership is taking shape on the Cornwall Road Industrial Estate. Previously the site of a steelworks, and then a plastics factory, the seven-acre plot offers plenty of room for displaying new and pre-owned vehicles available for purchase, and for customers to manoeuvre and park their own trucks and vans.

Midlands Truck & Van will also be the first member of the manufacturer’s commercial vehicle network to introduce a new customer experience concept which is already in operation at a number of Mercedes-Benz car outlets. 

A far cry from the traditional truck and van dealership, the building’s open plan reception area has been designed and will be furnished in line with the latest Mercedes-Benz corporate standards. All visitors to the site will be greeted by dedicated hosts, then introduced to other members of the Midlands Truck & Van team with whom they will be able to discuss anything from a sales enquiry to a service booking in stylish, relaxed and comfortable surroundings.

The new building will also incorporate a Parts department which, at 650 square metres, represents a 25% increase on the shelf space currently available to the Dealer. As a result, Midlands Truck & Van will carry correspondingly wider and deeper stocks of the factory-approved spares it needs to keep vehicles on the road and earning for their owners.

The ‘beating heart’ of the development, though, will be the 1,580 square metre, drive-through workshop. Highlights for truck operators include an Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) at which inspectors from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will undertake annual MoT tests, an ADR bay allocated to work on fuel tankers and related specialist equipment for transporting hazardous loads, and another bay fitted with rollers for the installation and calibration of tachographs.

Meanwhile, Midlands Truck & Van’s own technicians will carry out MoT tests on light commercial vehicles in the Class 4, 5 and 7 categories, at times – night or day – best suited to customers. 

In addition to these dedicated workspaces, routine maintenance and repairs will be carried out in a further 11 truck bays – each, at 24 metres, comfortably long enough to accommodate an articulated tractor unit and semi-trailer combination – and eight van bays.

“This fantastic facility is going to have a phenomenal impact on our business,” declared Steve Hunt. “It took a long time to find the right location for this project and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank colleagues who’ve continued to deliver exemplary levels of customer service despite having to work in conditions that were less than ideal.

“I can guarantee their patience will be rewarded come October, as our new dealership will be right up there with the very best in the industry. Customers have also welcomed the substantial investment we’re making because it underscores this company’s commitment and determination to keep their businesses moving.”

Steve added: “Our Smethwick facility will provide a perfect platform from which we’ll be able to meet the ever-increasing demand for our aftersales support, and provide the class-leading levels of service that Mercedes-Benz truck and van customers are entitled to expect.” 

The opening of its new dealership will mark the completion of a major programme of investment in its branch network by Midlands Truck & Van, one of two Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle franchisees owned by Northern Ireland’s Ballyvesey Holdings Group.

Midlands Truck & Van recently spent £3 million on the acquisition and refurbishment of the former Mercedes-Benz car outlet in Whitley, Coventry. Its repurposing as one of the country’s biggest Mercedes-Benz van showrooms allowed the Dealer’s former commercial vehicle centre next door to become a truck-dedicated facility.

Midlands Truck & Van’s purpose-built branch, in Willenhall, Wolverhampton, is also still relatively new, having opened at the end of 2015 at a cost of £4 million.

Site visit: Midlands Truck & Van Managing Director Steve Hunt, left, and Service Director Michael Carolan are overseeing the company’s latest infrastructure project

Site visit: Midlands Truck & Van Managing Director Steve Hunt, left, and Service Director Michael Carolan are overseeing the company’s latest infrastructure project
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Dorwingear strengthens its connections with Mercedes-Benz Vito and Midlands Truck & Van

Van selection has become an open and shut affair for Dorwingear – the door and window systems manufacturer chooses Mercedes-Benz, for its well-established attributes of reliability, driver appeal and top-quality aftersales support.

Now that built-in connectivity has also been added to the equation, though, the three-pointed star shines even more brightly for the Birmingham-based company.

Dorwingear operates a fleet of 22 vans, all but an older handful of which are by
Mercedes-Benz. The line-up includes 3.5-tonne Sprinters and a pair of small Citan models, but the mainstay of the fleet is the mid-sized Vito.

Latest to arrive via the city branch of Midlands Truck & Van are three Vito 114 CDI PURE models with long L2 bodies. Acquired with competitive funding support from
Mercedes-Benz Finance, they will be maintained by the Dealer under ServiceCare plans.

Like its last batch of Sprinters, the Vito vans came with ground-breaking 4G internet connectivity and the Mercedes PRO connect vehicle management package. A stand-out feature of the Sprinter and Vito ranges, Mercedes PRO connect provides operators with access to a wide range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management services.

By connecting companies with their vehicles, the system contributes to improved efficiency and productivity. It monitors everything from the van’s maintenance status to the driver’s style at the wheel, and even the amount of fuel in the tank, while also providing high-level navigation and communication services, and allowing fleet managers to control certain vehicle functions remotely.

Mercedes PRO connect also boosts security by incorporating a tracker, which can pinpoint a van’s exact location. A geofencing function alerts operators should their vehicles leave pre-defined areas.

“Mercedes PRO connect provides a welcome added level of anti-theft protection, but also includes a variety of very useful features to help businesses like ours work more safely and profitably,” enthused Dorwingear Director Craig Dollery.

“Its ability to monitor items like brake fluid levels and pad wear helps us to plan regular maintenance in advance more easily, while the tracking function means we can organise vehicle movements much more easily than before. It’s a really useful tool.”

Founded in 1974 by Mr Dollery’s father, Dorwingear is proud of the reputation for top-quality products and services it has built with customers over many years. Like so many others, the company postponed much of its work during the initial lockdown, to safeguard its workforce and ensure that urgent callouts to key customers including police and health services and train operators were unaffected.

“We quickly established alternative ways of working, taking account of social distancing and other safety restrictions,” said Mr Dollery. “This allowed us to bring people back in and take advantage of the ability to carry out works where sites were all but deserted.”

All Dorwingear’s vans are fitted with roof racks to carry ladders and other items, then allocated to mobile engineers who specialise in servicing automatic doors, access control systems, roller shutters, windows, traffic barriers and powered gates.

Mr Dollery continued: “We’ve tried other makes of vehicle in the past but since switching to Mercedes-Benz six years ago have enjoyed superior reliability and increased ‘uptime’ from our vehicles, while experiencing a high level of customer service from Midlands Truck & Van’s sales and workshop teams.

“Sales Executive Rob Lynock and his colleagues provide a far more attentive level of customer service than we’d received previously. The finance package is very competitive and the ServiceCare rates similarly attractive, while the Dealer’s workshop team do a great job of ensuring that our vans are always available for work when we need them.”

Dorwingear’s new Vito 114 CDIs are powered by economical 2.1-litre common rail turbodiesel engines which produce 140 hp and drive the rear wheels – other Vito variants are available with front-wheel drive.

In addition to the reassuring armoury of safety aids for which Mercedes-Benz vans are renowned, its drivers benefit from the vehicle’s standard-fit Active Parking Assist system, parking sensors and automatic headlights. Other features include a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift selector, a comfort driver’s seat, heated and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, and heat-insulating glass.

www.dorwingear.co.uk

Driving efficiencies: Dorwingear’s Craig Dollery is impressed with his new vans’ multi-faceted Mercedes-Benz PRO connect technology

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Falcon keeps firms on the move at HPC

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Hinkley Point C (HPC) continues to break records and hit milestones but it’s the businesses and people behind the scenes who are ensuring the project keeps moving on time and to schedule.

Take Falcon Vehicle Solutions, which has bases in Taunton and Bridgwater, as well as a modern workshop in Bridgwater.

The vehicle rental company has provided a wide range of vehicles on contract hire to a number of different local, national and international contractors who are working directly on site at HPC.

Clients include Somerset Larder, which uses LCVs and refrigerated HGVs, Windsor Catering, which uses 3.5t fridge vans and makes use of flexible fleet hire and Construgomes, a Portuguese sub-contractor which has used more than 10 vehicles for workers to use while working at HPC.

Tristan Savage, Managing Director of Falcon Vehicle Solutions, said: “Our flexible approach and wide-ranging fleet, allows contractors to scale up or down their fleet as required. The use of contract hire supports the core fleet of any contractor, with flexible hire being used to scale up during peak requirements.

“Our workshop and maintenance teams mean we can maintain all vehicles in Bridgwater or through our 24/7 breakdown service, both minimising vehicle downtime which is key to contractors working against deadlines.”

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Falcon Vehicle Solutions offers all HPC workers discounted rentals on self-drive car/van hire. The workshop provides maintenance support for any HPC contractor, with a focus to minimise downtime, using highly-skilled technicians and offering a special labour rate for HPC contractors.

The company registered with the Hinkley Supply Chain (HSC) and over the last 12 months has worked with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce-led team and received regular updates on key events and timelines at HPC.

“This allowed us to identify where we will fit best as a provider to contractors during the upcoming phases,” explained Mr Savage.

“From here I was introduced to Natalie Beacham from the supply chain team. Natalie came to visit our site to get a feel for what we could offer and I have now met with Natalie a regular occasions, getting briefed on HPC progress with ideas on how we can fit in and was given a key introduction to a large local business which I am hopeful will lead to a long-term relationship being built.

“I would highly recommend working with the HSC team; they are fully engaged in HPC and they understand the challenges and frustrations that local businesses have in accessing the market.

“They offer free, personal and friendly advice over a coffee, which can be invaluable and allow you to reset your thinking.”

Falcon Vehicle Solutions has been in business over 30 years and is continuing to grow, earning an enviable reputation as a comprehensive fleet provider. From humble beginnings, today the company operates a fleet in excess of 700 vehicles ranging from self-drive cars and vans through to a full range of HGVs and trailers.

The fleet is the most diverse rental fleet in the South West of England and can provide anything from a one-day Luton tail-lift van or a 17-seat minibus hire, to a seven-year contract hire on a bespoke fleet of HGV’s.

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Mr Savage added: “Falcon Vehicle Solutions currently has 32 full time employees who all have a focus on delivering exceptional service to our customers. We have a UK network of sub-contractors who, in partnership with ourselves, will provide dedicated service 24/7 to keep our clients’ vehicles moving.

“We operate a multi-brand fleet and work independently from OEMs giving us the freedom to offer choice and flexibility and listen to our clients’ views and opinions to provide a solution that will fit best to our customers’ requirements.”

More information is available online at www.falconvehiclesolutions.co.uk.

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DMC TRAILERS VALUES SCHMITZ CARGOBULL QUALITY

Contract hire and rental business DMC Trailers has added 20 new Schmitz Cargobull trailers to its fleet because of the equipment’s build strength and consistently high residual values.

The new units, fitted with Carrier Transicold fridges, are supporting the Ballyvesey-owned firm’s existing customers who have specified quality and robust trailers for their operations.

DMC Trailers Sales and Account Manager, Zak Burton, says: “Investing in Schmitz Cargobull trailers makes good business sense. We offer our customers the best in quality and service, and the fact they will need less maintenance means less downtime and costs for all involved.

“For us, we know the total cost of ownership will be low, so they represent great value for money which we can pass on to our customers.”

The new trailers, which have been specified with Dynamic Ramp Protection, join DMC Trailers’ 1,000-strong multi-brand trailer contract hire and rental fleet based in Scunthorpe. For more information please visit: www.dmctrailers.co.uk.