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April 17 2019
By Jessica Barton

Jessica writes for routeone, Group Tourism & Travel, and is the Editor of Coach Drivers Club News


A family firm proud of its Welsh roots

Operating for over 60 years, Midway Motors knows only too well of the importance of valuing customers, learning from the best and not taking things for granted

When a business has been operating over decades, there will undoubtedly be challenges and hurdles to overcome.

For Midway Motors of Crymych, Pembrokeshire, one of the biggest blows came with the unexpected passing of the family’s patriarch and company director Wyndham Rees in 2008.

Midway celebrated 60 years with a special-liveried Mercedes-Benz Tourismo

With his sons Shon, Iwan and Aled, daughter Sara and wife Elan already involved in running the family-firm, it was down to their capable hands – along with their partners – to keep the wheels turning during such a difficult time.

Says Director Shon: “We sadly lost my father very suddenly. It came as a big hit as he had been running it for the last 50 years and nothing was written down. It was a matter of all the information being kept in his head.”

The siblings, with the expert guidance of their mother, had to learn a lot quickly.

“I’d already learnt a lot from my father by going on tours with him. I used to sit at the front of the coach and listen to him on the microphone and the way he treated people,” says Shon.

“You learn a lot from just being in someone’s company and I have really looked up to my father in that respect and it was the same with my brothers.”

Now, 11 years on, the company continues to go from strength to strength operating a 20-strong fleet on a varied portfolio of work and celebrating its 60-year anniversary in 2017.

Natural progression

It was Shon’s grandfather, Stanley Rees, who started the company in 1957 operating two coaches.

Stanley Rees set up the business

“He was selling petrol and a few cars before that,” explains Shon. “He then bought his first two coaches and started doing private hire work.”

With the opening of a local high school a few years later, Stanley began running school contracts, and the small business started to grow steadily over the years.

Says Shon: “I always say the hard work was done by my grandfather. He was a very clever person, careful with his money and he managed to grow the business bit by bit.”

Stanley’s son, Wyndham, joined the firm at an early age and took over the family business as his father got older.

The late Wyndham Rees

“It was a natural progression for my father to come into the business and it’s the same for my siblings and me,” says Shon.

Midway continues to be run from the same location 62 years on, based in a unique setting against the backdrop of the Preseli Mountains.

A year-round project

In the early 1990s, Wyndham saw a gap in the market and decided to start running coach holidays.

“He started doing about three or four tours a year with my mother and it has grown from there,” says Shon, who now looks after that side of the business with his partner Catrin.

Midway now operates around 40 UK and European holidays and short breaks a year, with Shon describing it as the biggest growth angle of the business over the last 10 years.

He adds: “Catrin and I produce the holiday brochure and it’s a year-round project now. One thing we have decided is that we’ll bring out our brochure early in the year, so we’ll be bringing out 2020’s in August this year.

“It makes life a little bit more difficult as you don’t have as much time to do it while you’re in the middle of your busy period. However, people get more time to look through it during the winter season and they book earlier so we can see what’s popular and what’s working.”

Shon’s involvement doesn’t stop there, however. He also does a lot of the tour driving.

“I find if you do the driving yourself you get to interact with your customers and if you do the job right you see people coming back, which gives you a lot of satisfaction,” he says.

“When it’s your own business you take even more pride in the service you provide and you can appreciate your customers more.”

On-site maintenance

Along with coach holidays, school contracts and private hires make up Midway’s bread and butter work. While this is the business’ predominant focus, it also runs an MoT test centre and an accident repair centre.

This means maintaining the firm’s vehicles is all done on-site, which is headed up by Sara’s husband, Heulyn.

“As he’s part of the family we have got a lot of trust in him,” says Shon. “With maintenance standards having to be so high, having that trust that he’s doing the job properly is especially important.”

Close-knit

Shon’s two sisters-in-law are also involved, with Iwan’s wife, Mair, running the MoT centre’s reception and Aled’s wife, Eleri, dealing with the accounts. 

The Rees family: Business succession shouldn’t be a problem

While for some people the thought of working with their family can be a daunting prospect, for Midway it is something that has been pivotal to its success.

The firm uses its family ties to its advantage with a family-feel being filtered throughout the business to its staff of around 15 drivers, as well as its customers – not least because the family home is adjacent to the yard.

“We do face challenges, but the good thing is our mother is very experienced. We can all gather in the house, have a cup of tea and talk it over with her,” says Shon.

“The customers like it too because they can come in and have a cup of tea. There’s no big grand entrance – it’s a large site, but it has a nice family feel to it.”

Proud heritage

The family celebrated the business’ 60th anniversary in 2017. To mark the occasion Midway purchased its first-ever brand-new coach – a Mercedes Benz Tourismo from EvoBus in Coventry.

“The new coach was a way for us to give something back to our customers,” says Shon.

It was also decided that the coach should have a special livery to set it apart from the rest.

“All the images on the side of the coach are landmarks or something that has happened over the years within a square mile of where we are based,” Shon explains.  

“For example, there’s a picture of a stone, which is called Carreg Waldo after a famous poet in the area and people now call it the Waldo bus.

“People in this area have supported us over the last 60 years so we thought, why not give the area we come from the recognition? It means we take a little piece of where we come from on our journeys, as such.

“We’re very proud of our heritage – the majority of our staff are Welsh speaking and they’re all employed from the local villages around here.”

Secret to success

The Rees attribute keeping Midway Motors a family business and being proud of that fact to its decades of success.

Director Shon Rees (R) was shortlisted for the Rising Star Award last year

“It’s also about being appreciative of every customer,” adds Shon.

“People are quick to get people onboard and that’s it, but we really do appreciate everyone who books with us. It’s about not taking things for granted.

“We work hard to make sure our customers across the whole of the business – from coach holidays to MoTs and accident repairs – get a good service and it pays off because people return.”

What does the future hold for Midway?

Says Shon: “My mother has seven grandchildren, so we certainly have a choice of drivers coming in in the next 10-15 years.

“For us, it’s a matter of carrying on as we have been. The key thing is not to change too drastically. It’s gone well for us over the last 60 years, so we look forward to continuing to do much the same.”



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