12 Dec The Gray & Adams Story – Part Five
With the completion of our new car and commercial vehicle facility, this freed up the existing buildings, one of which was available to come back into mainstream production and the other buildings, which is adjacent to our panel manufacturing facility has now allowed us to proceed with the redevelopment of this site to enhance our panel manufacturing capability and give us the flexibility which, at the moment, we do not have.
I have covered most of the development in Fraserburgh over the years so we will just go back a bit in time to our 3 depots, the first of which we will cover is G&A Ireland which originally involved a selling agent and repairer, this was only a short-term issue, and the plan was to have our own facilities which was eventually secured with a new building and offices and storage yard located mid-way between the port of Larne and Belfast city during 1982.
The decision for having our own premises in Northern Ireland was taken because of the number of Irish customers that regularly purchased our trailers, in fact a lot of which were ahead of their time as they were amongst the first of our customers to have tri axle suspension specified for their trailers. Many of the customers we had in Ireland have now sadly ceased trading or have been taken over by other companies. We not only built trailers we also did quite a few rigid vehicles in various specifications which I am glad to say we still retain the majority of that business today both in trailer and rigid type vehicles.
We also added a new facility to the existing site which looks after various body repairs, and we also have service and maintenance contracts within the same department. The business is managed extremely well with the former and current Managing Directors and the same also applies to our staff who have all contributed to the success of their facility.
Moving across to our Dunfermline facility, again this was a fairly easy decision to make due to the number of customers located in the central belt who predominantly used rigid type vehicles in their fleet from transit size all the way up to 6- & 8-wheel rigids and again a suitable facility was located in Dunfermline which was an ex-haulage yard with suitable buildings and ample parking. These were all refurbished to our requirements which not only included local trades people but also a number of our own staff from Fraserburgh going down to arrange the interior of the buildings the way we required them and this was normally for a week at a time.
Just prior to opening the facility in 1983, interviews were carried out for suitable employees which were all in place when the facility officially opened. A number of rigid vehicles which would normally have been built in Fraserburgh were transferred to the Dunfermline location for them to build either new bodies or refurbish existing ones. All of which were for customers based in the central belt, this obviously freed up additional build capacity in Fraserburgh which allowed us to concentrate more on refrigerated trailers.
Over the years Dunfermline has expanded and acquired additional land and buildings which have enhanced the facility. We have been very fortunate with the MD’s and staff who have all contributed to the success of their facility.
In late 1989 early 1990 we took the decision to look for suitable premises in England as our customer base was ever expanding. After visiting a number of locations, the decision was to go to Doncaster onto a previously owned premises of another trailer manufacturer and again these facilities were tidied up and improved to meet our requirements both in the offices and manufacturing buildings.
The decision was taken, primarily because our then, long term agent Atlas refrigerated vehicles in Nottingham, the owners had decided to retire, and their facilities were being redeveloped by British Rail.
As they built bodies from panel kits supplied by Fraserburgh, this naturally all transferred to the new location in Doncaster along with a few of Atlases employees.
What has to be mentioned is that Fraserburgh has supplied insulated vehicle body kits to all three of our locations and we continue to do so. Doncaster has continued to expand acquiring additional property and land adjacent to the site and like G&A Ireland they also enhanced their facilities with repairs and refurbishment pro- grammes along with the continued manufacturing of refrigerated rigid and trailer bodies. It has also benefited from a strong management team, at all levels, and equally dedicated staff ensuring its success over the years which continues to this day.
We did also, for a brief period of time, have a facility in Dublin and also in Bedford, both of which were for the repair and maintenance of our customers vehicles. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get these to work properly and reluctantly the decision was taken to close them. We still have a number of various authorised repair agents located throughout the UK.
This article and the previous four parts in the beginning of the Gray & Adams story are very much an abbreviated history just to give an idea of the early days of the company.