In this issue we paytribute to our co-founder and Chief Executive David Jones. The presence at his funeral of so many former customers, representatives of the manufacturer, suppliers and colleagues, was a testimony the high esteem in which David was held. Of course, his spirit lives on in the company which he and my father Roger created 43 years ago, and he took great pride not only in its achievements, but also in its ‘family firm'ethos.
Despite the technological and other advances made over the last four decades and more, this remains essentially a ‘people business‘, and at Sparshatts we have some of the best. We turn the spotlight this time on Martin Kemsley, winner of an award that effectively singles him out as the UK's top Mercedes-Benz truck sales specialist, and bid farewell to Parts After Sales Representative Brian Payne, who is finally retiring after 50 years in the motor trade.
A Bridesmaid No More
After just missing out in each of the last three years, Sparshatts' Martin Kemsley has finally been crowned the UK's top Mercedes-Benz and FUSO Truck sales specialist. Martin won the prestigious Truck Sales Member of the Year title at the manufacturer's latest celebration of Dealer excellence, where colleague Kevin Haynes won a Diamond award and Sparshatts also carried off the Truck Sales team trophy. These achievements reflect superb performances in 2016. Marlin, pictured below with guest presenter Rachel Riley, from Channel 4's Countdown, served a technician's apprenticeship in Sparshatts' Sittingbourne workshop, before moving into sales in 2006, as a FUSO Canter sales executive. He sold more than 150 vehicles last year and, crucially, supplied more individual customers than any of his counterparts.
“I've always focused on the ones and twos, so an order for 19 Actrosfrom Gills Aggregates, of Gravesend, was a real coup," recalls Martin. “Having been a runner-up so often in the past, l should have worn a wedding dress to the awards event rather than a tuxedo," he jolted, “just to emphasise that l'm a bridesmaid no longer." Marlin had more cause to celebrate as this issue went to press, after his partner Nicola Dainter - who works for telematics specialist Fleetboard - gave birth to their first child, daughter Kira-Fay.
James Takes The Helm
The team at Sparshatts Truck & Van, Ashford, have a new Site & Service Manager - but there's not much he doesn't already know about the branch. James Sparshatt, left, a grandson of co-founder Roger, and son of After Sales Director Mark, started out with the family business in 2005, as a 16-year-old apprentice technician. He has since worked at Ashford as a Service 24h technician, Shift Supervisor, Technical Specialist and, most recently, Workshop Controller. “ln fact," he says, “there aren't many
jobs in this building that l haven't done over the years."
James is being supported in his new role by Gareth Law, a former classmate at the town's North School, who joined Sparshatts three years ago from a Swedish truck manufacturer's local Dealer, and has been promoted to Workshop Controller. “We're flat out
after taking on a new contract earlier this year to maintain a fleet of Stagecoach minibuses," says James. “But I've inherited a first-rate team and am thoroughly enjoying my new job." James is not the only representative of the Sparshatts ‘clan's' third generation to work for the company; sister Kimberley is a Service Reception Supervisor at Dartford, while Rhianna
and Declan Gogerly, step-children of Dealer Principal Andrew Sparshatt, are employed at Sittingbourne as, respectively, a Credit Controller and Paintshop Supervisor.
Aim High, Go Low
Mercedes-Benz has made the best x4 tipper chassis even better by introducing a version with reduced cab height. So says Lime Logistics Transport Manager Dave Dixon of its new, lower Arocs 3240. The truck has a ClassicSpace M-cab with 320mm engine tunnel, whereas its other Mercedes-Benz eight-wheelers have 170mm tunnels. As a result, it sits six inches lower, and offers a 14% improvement in direct vision. The lowered cab can also help when the muscular 32-tonner is working at concrete, asphalt and bagging plants where height may be an issue, while its more closely spaced three steps help to reduce driver fatigue.
Lime Logistics operates from Sittingbourne, West Hythe and Tonbridge, and has been forging ahead strongly. Supplied by Sparshatts Truck & Van, its latest Arocs has joined a fleet of 28 double-drive tippers and tractor units dominated by the three-pointed star. Mr Dixon confirms: “We’ll definitely be going for the reduced height version from now on. Ground clearance is still very good but it’s easier for the driver to maintain three points of contact when climbing in and out ofthe cab, and being that bit lower also gives them a better angle for pedestrian and cyclist observation.”
A Part Well Played
More than 50 years after he began his career in the motor trade, Brian Payne is finally calling it a day. Parts After Sales Representative Brian has worked for Sparshatts Truck & Van since 2007, when it acquired the Tunbridge Wells-based Kent & Sussex Truck Centre, a successor to former Commer and Dodge dealer J Rawson [Trucks], which he joined in 1978.
ln his current role, from which he retires shortly before Christmas, Brian has spent his days visiting operators to promote the benefits of Mercedes-Benz GenuineParts supplied by Sparshatts. “lt's a job I've done for a longtime and which I've always enjoyed," he says. “I've known and worked with a lot of local operators down the years, some of which are no longer in business, and l'm sure I'll miss it. But I started work when l was 15, and l'm 67 now, so it's time to go. Brian jokes that he is looking forward to spending more time with the love of his life... his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He has also bought and plans to restore an old camper van. As for wife Maggie: “l don't think she's looking forward to my retirement at all," he laughs.
Mercer 'On The Up'
Mercer Scaffolding has climbed to the next level by investing in its first Mercedes-Benz trucks. Supplied by Sparshatts Truck & Van, all three have ClassicSpace cabs — two are 26-tonne Arocs 2530s with factory-fitted benches behind the two front seats, the third is a i5-tonne Atego 1518. Family-run Mercer Scaffolding operates from headquarters in Longfield. Executive Consultant Daniel Clark explains: “The business has experienced year-on-year growth so we can now invest more in the qualityof our ﬂeet.
Some of our competitors and industry friends swear by their Mercedes-Benz trucks, which helped to confirm we were making the right move.” The firm also runs a tractor unit but the construction-specification Arocs are its biggest rigids yet. “Their higher payloads mean we can transport nearly 16 tonnes of equipment, which is proving very useful in terms of operational flexibility” says Mr Clark. “The fact that the cabs accommodate a crew of five scaffolders in safety and comfort also means we don’t have to send a separate vehicle. Meanwhile, the Atego’s carrying capacity is not much lower than that of an 18-tonner, yet it’s significantly smaller and can get in and out of some tight places in London.”