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Family business in the Teign Valley celebrates 25 years

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

FAMILY AFFAIR: David Vooght and son Graham of GM Coachworks

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THIS year marks the 25th anniversary of GM Coachwork, one of the leading wheelchair access vehicle convertors in the country.

The specialist vehicle manufacturer is going from strength to strength with no sign of slowing down.

From its humble beginnings in 1988 the family-run business has enjoyed healthy growth year on year and continues to expand.

GM Coachwork is very much a family business. Founder and CEO David Vooght has been head of the business since its origination. Back in 1988 David joined his father-in-law to form G&M Coachwork in a small rented premises at Dainton, near Newton Abbot.

David originally trained as an engineer with Westland Helicopters at Yeovil followed by a career in sales and engineering. As the business grew so did the need for a new site and the business moved to their current premises at Trusham in the Teign Valley in the early nineties.

"Since then, every year, we've grown and made a profit," says Dave. "But above all that I'm very proud of the fact that we have such low staff turnover. In fact, some of the staff who joined us in the early days are still here."

The growth GM has achieved each year hasn't been easy. David admits that growth stagnated a few years ago and something needed to be done to allow the company to grow again.

He bought on board Nigel Collins, an ex-helicopter engineer colleague, who was in Toulouse, France, working for Airbus in international sales and manufacturing. Nigel brought with him new efficiencies to GM's production and soon the business was growing again.

"We were in need of some factory efficiencies," said Dave. "The transformation was remarkable, with changes to the production process delivering massive time-per-unit savings.

"Good organisation and minimum waste is the key," says Dave. "And we use intelligent engineering, which might mean reducing production time by a quarter but also ending up with a better product."

GM operate in numerous areas, including wheelchair accessible vehicles, accessible minibuses, vehicle modifications, used vehicles and wheelchair car hire. GM also supply vehicles to the Motability scheme.

GM started off as a family business and it still is today.

Directors David and wife Linda own the business while Dave's brother Martin works a few days a week and David's university graduate son Graham, 27, works full time on the engineering side.

GM are proud to have achieved membership on the Customer First scheme approved by Devon County Council's Trading Standards team. They employ over 100 staff dedicated to delivering an efficient and quality service

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