IT has taken less than ten years for Kurt Hobbs Coachworks Ltd to establish itself as one of the region's leading commercial vehicle bodybuilding businesses.
Now the opening of a new depot near Wellingborough is offering yet more opportunities for the one-stop shop to grow under the leadership of founder and Managing Director Kurt Hobbs.
Kurt started the business in 2009 with just a few employees who shared his vision. Less than a decade later, the 60-strong workforce offers an extensive range of services from new-build commercial vehicles, bodywork repairs, paint spraying, sign writing and vehicle wrapping.
Pressure on space at the original site in Great Addington, near Kettering, prompted Kurt and his wife Chloe, the company's Business Development Manager, to look for additional premises. The search took them to a former heavy engineering plant near Wellingborough that could be adapted to suit the company's needs and gave the opportunity to expand its bespoke bodybuilding service.
Extra staff were recruited to meet the demands at the newly-opened Specialist Centre in Little Irchester and to support additional work the company can now take on at the original site in Great Addington.
The opening of the new premises was co-ordinated by Kurt himself, with the support of his team. Having opened in February 2018, the new Specialist Centre is already fully up and running, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Gary Newman, Workshop Manager and Helen Burbidge at Little Irchester. The whole team embraced the changes and have pulled together to achieve a thriving new division of the business.
"Our customers are so important to us and in order to meet their expectations it was time to expand the business. The move has also given our dedicated team the much needed space they were lacking" said Kurt, who originally trained as an apprentice paint sprayer. "This means we can offer a bespoke service in Wellingborough and has created the opportunity to take on extra work at Great Addington, now one of our four workshops has become available."
SERVICES - a One-Stop Shop
KURT Hobbs Coachworks offer a wide range of services to their customers from building large fleets of commercial vehicles, one-off builds, crash repairs, vehicle graphics, paint spraying and vehicle wrapping.
At each stage there are specialists who work hard to stay at the top of their game while encouraging new recruits to learn the trade by working side-by-side with a mentor, studying for NVQs or following apprenticeship programmes.
"This type of work is not for everyone, but we believe in supporting our teams and making sure they enjoy their work," said Kurt, who is rightly proud of his workforce retention. "To maintain our business, it is vital that the next generation are properly trained, so they can continue our specialist trade and become the supervisors, managers and key staff of the future."
With an overall average employee age of 39, Kurt feels that the company is in a healthy position to keep growing and moving forward.
Ongoing training also applies to current staff, with two employees recently completing a vehicle-wrapping course which enables the business to offer yet another service.
The company is best known for its body-building work, but the teams are always keen to use their specialist skills for different projects. The team recently built a 7.5 tonne bespoke horsebox, which met the specific needs of the clients. Owners of motorhomes and catering trailers have also turned to the business for new build, repairs and refurbishments.
The graphics and sign-writing team regularly use their skills to transform vehicles but can work on diverse projects from shop signs to office livery and advertising A-boards.
Kurt said: "We are a one-stop-shop and take real pride in the services we can offer. We really appreciate the relationships we have been able to build with our customers over the years and hope people will get in touch to see what our specialist team can do for them."
THE 60-strong workforce is headed up by Kurt Hobbs, proud father of Hollie, Chloe and Kingsley. Operations Co-ordinator Chloe, at 23, has already notched up years of experience in the family business while Kingsley, at only 21, has spent time in the workshops learning how to build commercial vehicles and is now General Manager at Great Addington, liaising with all workshop staff on a daily basis and co-ordinating production and scheduling.
Kurt said: "I am very proud of the fact that this is a family-run business and my children are playing a key part in its success. Chloe and Kingsley play important roles in the day-to-day running of the business and it means a lot that they want to carry on what we have started."
Other families are also playing their part with fathers and sons working alongside each other in the workshops. Like all the employees their loyalty and commitment to the business has made a real difference.
Recently a decision was taken to reward some key employees with a seat on the board. Newly appointed are Shaun Warren, Operations Director; Nick Wesby, Operations Director for the Signs and Graphics; and Greg Hook, Financial Director. In addition, Helen Burbidge has been appointed as a Director for the new Wellingborough operation.
"These key Managers have been very important to the business and I felt it was important that we recognised their commitment and expertise. They are very much appreciated for their hard work, loyalty and dedication to Kurt Hobbs Coachworks. Together we have a great team and I look forward to us all playing a big part in moving the business forward" said Kurt.
To contact Kurt Hobbs Coachworks Ltd:
Telephone: 01536 330515/mobile 07786 651682