With a fleet and staff to be proud of, as well as a promising young successor next in line, Attain Travel has a bright future ahead of it
It started up in 1997, following an idea around a converted van. Birmingham-based Attain Travel has come a long way in 20 years.
Now with a 30-strong fleet, the family-run company is still going strong with a mix of coaches and minibuses, school and day trip contracts, and it’s Euro 6-ready.
A thrifty idea
The idea of starting a business originated when Managing Director David Costello’s brother William wanted to hire a minibus to go to France with his family.
Says David: “It was very expensive to hire and I worked for LDV at the time, so he bought a van and we converted it into a minibus for him and we both used it for family holidays.
“We didn’t realise at the time what was involved in running a business, so William did his CPC and I did mine. We then got a contract with Walsall Council and bought another two vehicles.
“So we had three minibuses in total and got a few more contracts. We then bought our first coach in 1999 from Scania.”
To begin with, the company had three Directors: David, his brother William – who has since passed away – and his sister Sally.
“About a year into the company starting we took my other sister Janet on as a Director – so there are three Directors now, and my brother’s wife is a shareholder,” says David.
Attain is a real family affair, with all of the Directors’ spouses working for the business, including David’s wife Jacqui, Janet’s husband Philip, Sally’s husband Chris, and David and Jacqui’s 24-year-old son William.
Says Janet: “We are proud to be a family-run company, providing a friendly, personal service.
“We work well as a team and encourage each other with our endeavours – we each bring a different skill set to the company,” she adds.
Attain’s fleet is made up of a mixture of coaches and minibuses, a number of which are wheelchair accessible.
“Work is mainly school work, such as school trips, and work for colleges and the local community,” says David.
Attain also runs day trips for nearby operator Star Coaches by hiring vehicles to them on a contract basis, and this year it has also taken on its coach holiday programme.
Adds David: “We hire the vehicles to Star Coaches on a contract basis, which we have bought a couple of extra coaches for, and it works well for us.”
Attain has seen many changes over the years to get it where it is today, including a location change and a new livery design.
“We bought the premises in Witton in 2004 and we’ve developed the site as it was desolate when we bought it,” says David. “So we have put the buildings and garage on it.”
The depot also has an MoT test station for general public use, but coach MoTs are done off-site.
Another change in 2004 was to Attain’s livery from white and blue to red.
Says David: “We came up with something a bit more creative, which we eventually transferred to each vehicle.
“Janet liked red and designed it for a bit of a warmer feel to the business.”
A modern fleet
“The most significant change over the years has been to our vehicles, which we have invested heavily in,” says David.
“We have a continuing fleet renewal programme, so we have a modern fleet of vehicles.”
The company purchased two 12.8m, 70-seat Plaxton Leopards in 2015 and, having been so impressed with the vehicle performance, decided to buy two more which were delivered in April.
Says David: “This time we have gone for one 12.8m B9 model but with 72-seats and another with 59 seats.
“Both have a high specification finish and are fitted with three-point safety belts and leather headrests. They operate on school and college contracts, private hires and days trips.”
A 53-seater Scania Interlink Finesse also joined Attain’s fleet this year.
Its modern fleet means that there are no concerns about the imminent regulations regarding Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in London.
Says David: “This is not a problem for us as around half of our vehicles already meet ULEZ standards, and with our ongoing fleet renewals we predict that 80-90% of our vehicles will be Euro 6 by 2020.”
Staff to be proud of
Attain employs 25 drivers in total –15 full-time drivers and 10 part-time drivers, plus three mechanics in the garage, as all maintenance work on its vehicles is done on-site.
“We’re proud of our diverse team, which includes three female drivers,” says David. “As a family-run company, we try to make them feel like a part of the family as much as possible and we don’t have a big turnover of drivers – they tend to stop with us.
“We’re very flexible with them, which means they’re good to us in return and they never let us down,” he adds.
As with all good operators, passenger safety is paramount to Attain, which produces a new risk assessment each year.
The document is readily available on the company’s website so that customers can view details such as insurance documents, drivers’ checks, and terms and conditions.
Attain also welcomes visits from current and potential customers who would like to visit the depot for risk assessment purposes or to view the fleet.
Face of the future
David’s son William joined the company in 2008 while he was studying for his GCSEs.
Says Janet: “His main role was as a guide, but he also began informal office training, liaising with the directors and managers.”
William then went on to do his PSV training and obtained his Category D licence in 2015.
“As a driver he showed promise, so we are now training him to be a manager,” says David.
William now works full-time in the office, which includes on-going management and administrative training. He has also successfully completed a ‘Coach Manager’ course and is shortly expected to complete his CPC management and qualify as a Transport Manager.
Adds Janet: “As a driver, Will is extremely popular with Attain’s loyal customers, and having so much experience, once formally qualified, he is going to be able to oversee the day-to-day running of the company.
“As a young man so well versed in the industry, Will is ready to take the company forward using new technology to enable Attain to continue to compete in an ever changing and increasingly competitive market.”