Operating 365 days a year, Paul Clark Services is showing its ongoing commitment to the coach and bus industry
When it comes to delivering engineering assistance, Wiltshire-based Paul Clark Services is one business at the forefront of supporting the coach and bus industry.
Specialising in five areas: Mechanical, electrical, coachbuilding, management and supervision and workshop facilities, Paul Clark Services has the ability to help all operators of any size with engineering assistance – seven days a week, 365 days a year.
With year-on-year growth, there’s much for the business to be proud of. But one thing that is prominent: Only the very best engineers will get hired.
Mike Britten, Service Delivery Director, explains: “We only ever take on engineers that we know are qualified and have completed apprenticeships.
“They have the necessary qualifications, experience and knowledge and then we carry out further training as well, as a priority putting them all through IRTEC level two, so they are accredited to inspection technician level.”
Presently, Paul Clark Services has around 120 engineers – with the majority of those being subcontractors who work for themselves. However, it does have a small number of employed engineers, who tend to stay with the business as they see this as a career opportunity and life choice.
In that section of engineer employees, Paul Clark Services also has some specialist engineers thanks to it becoming a ZF UK partner over two years ago.
“We decided to recruit a number of specialist dedicated diagnostic technicians specifically to support ZF UK. It was by sheer luck that three engineers who left another ZF partner became available and started with Paul Clark Services immediately.”
By becoming a full-service partner with ZF UK, Paul Clark Services provides a quality level of service on all ZF products, including gearbox diagnostics, gearbox changes, repairs and parts supply.
At the same time as becoming a ZF partner, Paul Clark Services also started to do significantly more business with Cummins UK, including supplying engineers for its service centres and the engine remanufacturing plant in Wellingborough.
The business has upwards of 10 engineers, all of who are fully trained to Cummins Euro 6, working on Cummins product at any one time.
As well as investing in engineering resource, quality, environment and health and safety are a key part of the business’ ethos and it is ISO9001 quality accredited as well as having ISO14001 environmental and ISO45001 health and safety accreditations.
Covering all bases
Paul Clark Services will undertake all types of engine and transmission work at customers’ premises or at its own workshop facilities in Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon, Wiltshire.
“We have our own facilities which consist of a three-bay workshop, so we can offer a full service here in Royal Wootton Bassett as well as at customers’ premises.
“We can facilitate as many engineers as we need to at our workshop. However, Paul Clark Services always puts priority on providing sufficient engineering resource to customers’ own sites as required.
“We supply engineers to operators to cover their own shortfalls. That is probably the lion’s share of our work – although the other areas of our work are quite large.
“That’s where the business started, providing engineers to the bus industry covering shift work and covering shortages of manpower.”
For the last two years, the business has been training its first apprentice, something which Paul Clark, Managing Director, says is “very significant in the industry”.
“Having an apprentice engineer here is very important for us,” he says. “We would like to take on further apprentices; their help is additional resource for the workshop here and it’s also putting something back into the industry by paying for an apprentice and having them trained up.
“Apprentices are very significant in the industry, and it’s a big issue at the minute with the sector struggling to recruit engineers. To tackle this problem, we also work locally with schools and colleges and support the younger generation coming for work placements.
“Being a skilled engineer is so important. They have to learn a lot of skills with all the technology being added to vehicles these days. We need to bring young people onboard. It’s a worthwhile career because if they can maintain a bus, then they can maintain any vehicle.”
This is the first involvement with apprentices for Paul Clark Services, and it doesn’t want it to be the last. Paul says it’s difficult at the moment because the volume of people interested is just not there. However, continuing with recruiting future apprenticeships is a goal for the business.
Other ambitions for the business are to carry on growing in terms of getting more engineers and continuing to further train and make sure that its engineers remain of the highest quality.
One of the biggest challenges is finding and recruiting new engineers to work for Paul Clark Services. “We cannot afford them to be subprime. We need our engineers to be able to go into our customers premises and get stuck in straightaway and complete a job well done. This approach only comes with experience and the ability to be flexible,” says the business.