Building a Brighter Future

Simon, who established the £3.5 million turnover Lincoln Commercial Bodies business just four years ago, is splashing out on his own tailor-made premises, after outgrowing no less than eight individual industrial units in Crofton Close.

Banks Long & Co said the news follows a complex deal, which has seen the sale of both the freehold and leasehold interests in a neighbouring parcel of land on the city’s Allenby Road Industrial Estate.

It promises to be a great move for Simon, who took the plunge and launched his own venture after being made redundant when the former McComb Coachworks business in Tattershall closed its doors. He had worked there for 28 years.

“I was forced into a situation where I had to look for alternative employment, so I decided to take a chance. It turned out to be the ideal opportunity for me to strike out on my own,” said Simon.

“Setting-up in Lincoln was ideal for several reasons – it was near to home, key dealerships in the area and also close to the A46.

“I started out in Unit 6 with three former colleagues. Once we got going, we started making new contacts and building relationships with former customers. People heard about us and started coming back to me. Soon I took on five more workers.”

Today, Simon employs 28 people, but when his new premises are up and running he is hoping to create up to 10 more jobs.

Lincoln Commercial Bodies takes lorry chassis and adds box, curtainside, dropside and other panels to create a vehicle to meet a customer’s exact requirements. The business typically constructs 3.5 tonne to 26 tonne vehicles, usually within a three-week timeframe.

Simon is delighted at the growth of his business and he is looking forward to seeing his new premises take shape.

“We needed more space to allow us to park our vehicles in a more structured layout. It will be better for handling supplies and will allow our staff to work more efficiently,” said Simon.

“I have bought the freehold of the land from the City of Lincoln Council and the long leasehold of the site from Simons of Lincoln.”

Building firm T Balfe & Sons has started work on site and Simon’s new premises should be ready to move into before the end of the year.

“The new building will include a 20,000 sq ft workshop, with 13 bays and office accommodation. We will also have a secure compound for parking vehicles,” said Simon.

Several things are driving the pace at Lincoln Commercial Bodies, including investment in quality standards and a new approvals system. The business has also secured grant aid.

“The biggest thing that helped our business, after getting the UKAS ISO 9001:2008 quality standard, was responding to industry changes and securing Whole Vehicle Type Approval certification,” said Simon.

“Essentially, everything on a chassis has to meet a certain standard for each manufacturer. Without the right certificate a vehicle cannot be taxed. The changes mean that a lot of smaller bodybuilders can no longer compete.

“We also got £150,000 in grant funding. It was allocated by the Greater Lincolnshire Capital Growth Fund programme, which supports local businesses to grow and reach their full potential and is supported by the Regional Growth Fund.”

Banks Long & Co Director William Wall said: “We acted on behalf of our client Simons of Lincoln in selling the company’s leasehold interest in the land.

“The former storage compound extends to 2.10 acres in size and its proximity to Simon’s current premises will allow the business to make a smooth transition to his new complex.”

Simons’ Development Manager Mark Hawthorne said: “We are delighted to have been able to secure the sale of our interest in the former compound, which was surplus to our operational requirements.

“Having seen Simon’s proposed plan for the new facility, I am sure it will secure the future of his business and I wish him every success moving forward.”

Photograph: L to R Banks Long & Co Director William Wall with Lincoln Commercial Bodies’ Managing Director Simon Knagg on site in Crofton Close.