An Up and Coming Member of the Used Truck Team Drifts in for a Chat

A relatively new face amongst the UVS team is Lawrence Eden, PDI Valeter/labourer. Joining the team back in November last year, Lawrence has proven to be a Swiss army knife of the bay. A reliable member of the PDI squad who tackles a little bit of everything, every day.

Following his time at Woodford Lodge High School, Lawrence completed a two-year Motorvehicle Fabrication and Welding course at Hartford Mid-Cheshire College, eventually realising this might not have been one of his better decisions. ‘I was always interested in mechanics as it’s easier to do a lot of the stuff yourself, but I didn’t fancy a job in a garage working on the floor or on my back all day’.

Toycraft, located in the centre of Chester, was famous for its steam train chugging around the store and it is this iconic toy shop where we find Lawrence, maintaining the tracks and working the tills. ‘My brother’s girlfriend (at the time) worked there and they were short-staffed one Christmas so that’s how I got the job. I worked there for roughly a year and to be fair it was an interesting job because it sold Steiff bears which were really expensive’.

Lawrence later transitioned from selling wooden toys to traffic management, laying out cones and directing the public on behalf of Gwynedd Environmental Waste Services LTD. Laurance worked as part of a team of four clearing road drains across Chesire for roughly a year and a half. ‘I enjoyed the night shifts more, especially when working the weekend shift around Chester, you definitely see some sights late at night!’

Moving from one extreme to the other, Lawrence went from working underground to above ground as a roofers mate, removing battens, re-felting and passing tiles. Loz worked at these dizzying heights for two and half years and enjoyed the high life. ‘It was good to see the world from a different perspective every day as we worked at different locations every week’.

With such a strong interest in motor vehicles, it made sense for Lawrence to work alongside the four-wheeled chariot next and Arnold Clarke would facilitate this venture.
Spending roughly four to five years with the company, Loz was responsible for valeting and preparing stock for sale, working between the Winsford and Northwich depots. ‘There would be a list of registrations that would need work that day and we’d all compete to find the cleanest car! I enjoyed valeting, plus it was my job to apply the infamous yellow sticker to the rear window’.

When not applying the finishing details to potential customers vehicles, Lawrence himself invests a lot of personal time into his own cars. Building replica Audi S3’s and offroad Suzuki Jimny’s. Loz has also spectated numerous drifting events around the UK, following the British Drifting Champion, Steve (Baggsy) Biagioni and Team Japspeed.
Loz Jimny - Thomas HardieLawrence has also built his own sideways missile. Spec’d for the mud instead of tarmac, Loz’s 2.5″ lifted Jimny complete with Malatesta tyres and Wicks drainpipe snorkel.

Almost a year into his time at Thomas Hardies, Lawrence’s previous experience preparing cars has proven to be an invaluable skill-set for the UVS team. Now valeting and carrying-out final checks on all our sold trucks before entering the customer’s hands. ‘It’s like a family here, a really close-knit team who enjoy what they do’.

An incredibly reliable and multi-talented individual with an impeccable eye for detail and pride in his work. With only a year under his belt, who knows what’s in store for Laurance and the department, apart from perhaps a gymkhana track.

 

An Administrator Who Works Well Under Pressure, But We’ll Spare You the Tyre Jokes…

When calling or visiting our used truck centre, chances are the first voice or face you’ll experience will be that of James Glovers, Used Vehicle Administrator. Although James has spent twenty years working for the Thomas Hardie group, he also boasts a long and prosperous business history, previously working alongside some of the biggest names in the automotive world.

Jim attended St Augustines all-boys Catholic Grammer school and discovered the perks of administration from a very early age. ‘I skipped a lot of school by writing out my own absence notes on my mum’s typewriter, I was into admin before I knew it.’
Jim later enrolled at Openshaw College and studied A-level physics, chemistry and biology, but couldn’t manage life without routine. ‘I needed structure to my days. The college timetable was so sporadic, it just wasn’t for me’.

Following college, Jim took on the role of Assistant Buyer at Follows & Bate, a horticultural appliance manufacturer. Jim would be responsible for backing up the buyers by keeping stock records up-to-date and general administrative duties. ‘The job was definitely a learning experience and I had to grow up pretty quick.’

Jim spent roughly three years with F&B before a colleague within the business moved to Dunlop tyres and suggested that Jim does the same.
Here, Jim held the role as General Clerk and experienced his first taste of sales. Still maintaining stock control, Jim later progressed to Sales Assistant, Sales Leader, Senior Sales Leader and eventually Sales Leader Group. ‘I really enjoyed the more modern environment and working alongside colleagues and friends. But that job made me realise I didn’t enjoy sales or being a salesperson as much.’

Following seven years at Dunlop Tyres and with a negative opinion of sales, this didn’t stop Jim from taking on a Sales Representative job at Tyre Services Earthmover Division, this time with the promise of a company car to sweeten the deal. ‘I didn’t really want the job, but I liked the idea of a company car, but even that turned out to be a nightmare. The first car was an old blue Ford Escort estate that I wrote off in a multiple car accident. The second car seized up as apparently engines need oil and the third caught fire outside my house whilst I was trying to repair it…but to be honest, that was probably for the best!’

Img 20211112 142128 (resize) - Thomas HardieSeven years pass at Tyre Services Earthmover Division before the same friend that introduced Jim to the world of tyres suggested that Jim applies for their old job at Bridgestone tyres, a relatively new Japanese based company.
Now responsible for assessing tyres depths, pressures and general condition, Jim would recommend replacements where needed and report back to the relevant site decision-maker. The business would later combine the engineer/sales positions into one Sales Representative role, returning Jim to a sales orientated position.
James would later progress through to Sales Administration, Marketer for earthmover tyres and eventually Original Equipment Manager.
In 1989 Jim travelled to Japan, the home of Bridgestone Tyres, for an earthmover tyres conference. This visit consisted of a ten-day tour of the local area and the manufacturing plants Bridgestone utilised at the time.
During his time as Original Equipment Manager, Jim was tasked with setting up a Bridgestone Tyres account with Volvo Trucks, at the then manufacturing plant at Irvine in Scotland, resulting in the first Bridgestone tyres ever to be fitted to a Volvo truck as specified by the end-user.

Img 20211112 141656 - Thomas Hardie

In 1988, Bridgestone bought out Firestone, a rival tyre manufacturer at the time, meaning towards his latter years, Jim would be selling Firestone tractor tyres throughout the North of England and Scotland.

James inevitably fell out of love with the sales game and being away from home for such long periods of time. So, in 2001, Jim took on the role of UVS Administrator. It didn’t come with a blue Ford Escort company car, but it did mean Jim would be home for 5:30 and didn’t have to work directly for a sale ever again, thanks to the dedicated used vehicle sales team Jim now supports.

Today, Jim is mainly involved with administrative duties. Although he isn’t technically a receptionist, James greets customers upon arrival, introducing them to the various members of the Thomas Hardie team based at Middlewich.
Not wanting to fall behind, Jim has undertaken various courses over the years revolving around his current position, helping to further educate himself and help with day-to-day work life.

Outside of his administrative duties, Jim spends some of his time travelling and opts for locations rich with history. Norway, the Farne Islands and Dartmouth, just a few places Jim has recently visited.

James Glover plays a fundamental role within the used truck team and has been the face of the Middlewich office for over twenty years. A character bursting with charisma and kindness. We had to get at least one tyre joke in somewhere…

Sales Support Shares his Story.

Marcus Harley has always had a passion for taking things apart and putting them back, roughly how they started. From cars to computers, if it un-bolts, it’s fair game.
Now, responsible for many online aspects of the used truck department, Marcus has transitioned from motherboard to keyboard, injectors to Instagram, linkages to Linkedin.

With School out of the way, Marcus enrolled at South Cheshire College and began a three-year Motorvehicle Maintenance course covering basic car repair. ‘I’ve always had an interest in cars, so motor vehicle maintenance was a no-brainer. I met some very funny people along the way and had a great time.’

Realising college wouldn’t pay for fuel, phone bills or the pub, Marcus began searching for work and found a small, independent Land Rover/Range Rover garage not too far from home. Here, Marcus was responsible for servicing, diagnostics and chassis repair/protection via Waxoil application. ‘It was my first job and I quickly realised how out-of-my-depth I was! College doesn’t prepare you for the real world. Dealing with customers, rusty bolts and bosses. But looking back, I learned so much and I now appreciate my bosses efforts so much more than I did at the time!’

After spending roughly three years with the garage, Marcus decided the time was right to move away from Land Rover and over into HGVs, this time specializing in converting tractor units into rigids. Here Marcus dealt with axle shifting, bolt-hole drilling and loom extensions. ‘It was definitely a step-up from what I was used to. Everything was heavier, tighter or more stubborn…and that was just the blokes who worked there!’

When not complaining, Marcus likes to work with his hands even outside of the nine-to-five. And with a 1986 Austin Metro being his first car, this was probably for the best. A huge fan of the modified car scene, even a 998cc Metro wasn’t safe and was the first of many cars to receive the odd fettle. Later moving on to Ford Escorts, Vectras, Subaru Impreza’s and now settling for a Citroen C2 VTS Sebastian Loeb edition, Marcus prefers to add his own personal touch to his cars, for better or worse…
When not ‘tastefully’ modifying cars, Marcus has built and helped build numerous gaming computers from the ground up. Acquiring components and assembling them accordingly, Marcus currently runs a self-built rig of his own. ‘Cars and computers are basically the same now anyway, so they go together roughly the same. My father-in-law introduced me to PC building and he also builds classic Minis, so we do have quite a lot in common and fuel each-others passions.’

An online advertisement for a valeter/labourer role at Thomas Hardie Used Truck caught Marcus’ attention and combined a lot of  interests at the time. Investing over three years in the PDI bay, Marcus developed his truck knowledge further and eventually moved away from the detailing side and more into the maintenance and repair. ‘I was obsessed with keeping my cars clean, so a job cleaning and maintaining trucks sounded great. I progressed on to repairing the trucks towards the end which again suited me fine. I worked alongside a great group of lads who were always up for a laugh but had pride in what they did.’

A Sales Support role became available just as Marcus began feeling it was time to move away from the tools and take on a different challenge. Business Development Manager Jonathan Bownes realised that Marcus could play a fundamental role in developing the online and social side of the business. Tasking Marcus with the development of a new website for the used truck department alongside DMS experts Dragon2000.
Now nearly three years into office life, Marcus maintains the used truck social media and website advertising effort. ‘I for one never thought I’d be a part of the world of marketing, but I love getting our trucks out there amongst the masses. Building a relationship between our online customers and the business is so important in today’s world. Plus it’s a great way of showcasing what we have available and what’s going on here in Middlewich’.

With big plans for the used truck department and its online footprint, Marcus is determined, with help from the wider Thomas Hardie Commercials group, to get quality used trucks out onto the global stage.

Writing about yourself is never easy…

Drop a Gear, Disappear Den.

A well-known face around the Thomas Hardie network and with over thirty-three years under his belt, Dennis Roberts is everything Thomas Hardie Commercials stands by. Reliable in difficult situations, honest with the customer and above all dedicated to providing a first-class service.

But behind the corporate commitments lies a man with a taste for speed, mountains and anything on two wheels. 

1975 is roughly the year of the ‘Work Experience Program’, a scheme aimed at helping kids fresh from school transition into the working world. This is where we join Dennis, building dams, bridges and carrying out general maintenance for a local cemetery. ‘It was basically a scheme to keep people off the dole. A group of twelve lads all at similar ages having a laugh outdoors, it was fantastic!’ 

With an urge to develop his skills, Den turned to a nearby Skill Centre for guidance into his next venture and found himself training to be a toolmaker, learning the ways of the lathe, milling and shaping machines. After investing thirteen weeks in the world of engineering, Dennis knew something wasn’t quite right. ‘I didn’t enjoy working all day indoors. Spending entire days couped up in a factory just didn’t work for me.’ 

Struggling to find his feet, Den looked into a local Honda motorbike dealership for work but unfortunately, they were no longer hiring. 

Eventually, an advertisement for an apprentice HGV fitter at D.H Jones Coal and Haulage in Acrefair became available and this is where Dennis spent the next ten years. Following the completion of a three-year apprenticeship, Dennis claimed the fitter role and thrived. ‘It was honestly one of the best places I’ve ever worked. You really felt like part of a close-knit team with a great gang of lads. Everyone got stuck in because if the trucks weren’t working, they weren’t earning. But it was seven days a week and long days at that.’

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this chapter closed with a knock at Dennis’ front door late one evening with the news that the business was closing. 

Whilst listening to Marcher Sound Radio, a local North Wales station, Dennis overheard a job vacancy advert for a tachograph technician at Thomas Hardie Commercials over in Queensferry, a role Dennis was very accustomed to already.

During this time, Dennis progressed to Workshop Foreman and the business relocated from Queensferry to the now established Deeside depot. In 2003 Dennis moved to the current Middlewich depot which also brought a further career change in the shape of Contract Returns Coordinator. ‘Workshop Foreman was tough at times. Always trying to grow the depot and finding the best technicians brought its own unique challenges.’

It would be wrong to continue without mentioning Dennis’ long-term relationship with the crotch rocket. 

Before Dennis could drive a car, his bedroom walls would be littered with iconic motorbikes and riders of the time. His father would never own a car, opting for the two-wheeled alternative instead. Travelling to work via motorbikes meant these were Dennis’ workhorses rather than weekend warriors. ‘I love everything about bikes. The speed, sound, thrill and feeling. But moving away from them twenty years ago probably saved my life!’

  • Suzuki 100 single cylinder
  • Yamaha 125 Twin
  • Honda CB250 (1978) 
  • Honda CB250 (1979)
  • Honda CB250 N
  • Suzuki GT380 Tripple 
  • Honda CB400 N
  • Yamaha XS 250
  • Honda 200 Twin 
  • Suzuki GT380
  • Kawasaki Z750
  • GSX 750
  • GSX R 750

To name but a few… 

When not dreaming of two-stroke, Dennis is an avid hiker and has scaled plenty of big hills in his time. Snowden four times, Tryfan, Cnicht, Glyder Fach & Fawr, Yr Arawn, Moel Siabod to name just a few. ‘I also attempted Scafell Pike but got lost and ended up twenty-five miles from the car, English mountains must not like me! It’s hard to explain why hiking is so good. Maybe it’s the views or the sense of achievement getting to the top. It’s always a challenge as I’m actually afraid of heights!’

From 2003 to the present day, Dennis is responsible for coordinating returning vehicles off-contract. Logistically organising movements, inspecting vehicles and costing repairs. ‘Managing my schedule and being out and about away from the desk is great. Chatting with customers and getting to know new ones is also good. But inspecting fifteen trucks out on a yard in the middle of January isn’t so fun!’

Dennis Mtt V2 2 - Thomas Hardie

Dennis achieved Excellence in Customer Service award in 2019 and was also nominated for the same award the year before.

A highly regarded and respected member of the Thomas Hardie group who will always find time to help and support others…but you’ll have to catch him first!

 

A Sit Down with Steve. Master of Tractors Units, Muddy Ones too.

Go back 35 years and you’ll either find Steven Gregory behind the wheel of a tractor working the land or busy in the parlour milking.
Today, Steve works with a slightly different beast.
The used truck PDI bay.

Steve left school and went straight into working on a dairy farm in Swanlow near Winsford, milking cows and driving tractors on behalf of the farm, often out silaging until two o’clock in the morning. Farming is a full-time, fully committed career with a deep understanding and appreciation for the land and its livestock. ‘I liked working with the animals and being out on my own with the tractors. I also enjoyed working with the pedigree cows. We’d raise them from calves and it was great to be a part of their lives. You had kind of an affinity with them.’

The farm Steve worked on eventually changed direction and moved away from the dairy side and focused more on tractor rental where Steve would service and maintain the fleet. But inevitably, the time for Steve to depart had come and after thirty-five years of service, Steve moved away from the world of farming and into the Thomas Hardie group.

Behind the scenes, Steve is a big Elvis fan, enjoying the odd tribute act from time to time and has seen his fair share over the years. ‘I’ve liked Elvis for as long as I can remember and enjoy impersonators and tribute bands.’
Steve also appreciates a good motor, with the likes of V6 Vectra SRI’s, RS2000 Escorts and currently the new Focus ST being amongst a long history of sporty numbers. ‘When I was younger I loved the RAC Rally and would follow it through the stages.’

The preparation process is arguably one of, if not, the most crucial stage of any sold vehicle. Steven represents a pivotal position within this process, assuring customers always receive a uniform level of quality.
Working with the used truck department now for three years, for Steve, it’s the team and the product that means the most. ‘I like working with the good bunch of lads we have here. There’s a lot of pride in the job and it’s great to see the difference in our trucks when they go out.’

A hard-working, committed individual with a history to prove it. What more could a business want?

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