One of Britain’s most respected truck and van dealers S & B Commercials is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer for Hertfordshire, Essex, and London, S&B is a three-time winner – most recently in 2011 – of the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Dealer of the Year title. The company operates from headquarters in Welham Green, near Hatfield, other main dealerships at Stansted and Thurrock, and vehicle maintenance units at customer locations in Harlow, Hatfield, Thamesmead and Wellingborough.
The company’s success has been a personal triumph for Managing Director Ron Holmes. Over three decades S & B Commercials has grown and it is today an £80-million turnover business, employing 275 staff across its seven locations.
Though now 69, Ron has no intention of retiring and remains firmly at the helm. Wife Carol, a Partner in a City law firm prior to her retirement, continues to provide “sound, impartial advice” as Company Secretary, while the couple’s son Daniel started working for S & B in 1999 and is now Director of Operations.
What, then, is the secret of S & B’s success? “If I’ve done anything well, I’ve employed the right people,” he said. “My firm view that staff should be treated with dignity, and have their value to the company acknowledged regularly, has stood me in very good stead down the years.”
Ron’s big chance came in 1982, when he seized the opportunity to undertake a management buyout of an ERF franchise which had previously traded as Sellers & Batty, but was already known as S & B. He quickly added two more franchises, giving him three brands under one roof. And then, in 1992, came the single most significant moment in the history of S & B Commercials… wooed by the manufacturer, he switched to Mercedes-Benz.
“I could only see the industry contracting in terms of the number of ‘players’ and I thought, when it does, who will be left? Not ERF, but certainly Mercedes-Benz. So I went with the biggest truck maker in the world, and the one with the best brand image.”