The secret to surviving 40 years in the Industry

October 2019 marks a special anniversary for AW Repair Group’s Compliancy & Training Manager, Ian Pearson, who chose vehicle body repair over mathematics 40-years ago this month.
A young Ian walked through the doors at WASS (Wallace Arnold Sales & Service) on Lenton Lane, Nottingham in October 1979 as a multi-skilled apprentice, little did he know that 40-years later he’d be a training manager himself.

Attending Peoples College to complete the five-year City & Guilds apprenticeship, Ian achieved two credits and one distinction in light vehicle body repair, trim and refinishing. After completing practical tests in various different fields, such as metal finish repair, welding, chassis pulling and painting a door skin with adjacent blends he also received his RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) Craft Studies certificate.

Fast forward 10 years to 1989, Ian was working as a multi-skilled technician with five-years qualified experience under his belt at a Vauxhall dealer in Nottingham. “It was so rewarding, being able to carry out any repair from start to finish,” said Ian, remembering his Vauxhall days.

Another 10 years later, Ian decided to take a slight career change and took on the combined role of Estimator and Workshop Controller at Hooleys Ford in Nottingham.
Ian commented: “I knew it was time for me to come off the shop floor, I had built my knowledge over the years and wanted to further my career without getting my hands dirty. In those days it was quite dirty work – not like the high specification bodyshops we have today.

“One of the most rewarding moments during my career within this industry was when I was at Sandicliffe Ford, I was given the task to introduce and maintain ISO9002. I was a naïve manager at the time, but I took it in my stride and funnily enough now I’m carrying out compliancy within AW Repair Group it’s things like ISO and BSI I have to be heavily involved in across the group,” added Ian.

Ian joined AW Repair Group in 2007 as General Manager of the Denaby, South Yorkshire site and was later instrumental in setting up the Markham Vale, Chesterfield site in 2014, which he was running until earlier this year when he was appointed to the Group Operations Team as a Compliancy & Training Manager.
Ian now ensures are all sites are compliant to BSI and other regulatory bodies and heads up AW’s Training & Apprenticeship academy, which to date has 19 students.
“It’s great that apprentices are getting stuck in and getting really doing the job rather than making tea and cleaning the floor which I had to do more times than I want to recall! I’m glad the industry has taken a huge leap forward. I love seeing the industry I’ve worked in for 40 years progress and I feel privileged and proud to have ben part of AW’s growth over the last 12 years.”

Circa 2005: Ian pictured with Wally Beeson and a very young Katie who, coincidentally, is now a multi-skilled technician herself at our Fast Finish Centre in Derby.

AW take an innovative leap with PPG

AW Repair Group is taking one small step for paint technicians and one giant leap for the paint industry as a trial site for a revolutionary colour mixing system.

Worldwide paint manufacturer PPG showcased their innovative MOONWALK™ system at the Motor & Sport Institute in Madrid earlier this year to a small group of invited guests including AW’s MD, Andrew Walsh.

And last week PPG installed the system at the group’s site in Nottingham which looks set to revolutionise the way paint is mixed in bodyshops.

General manager of the site Ben Hissitt said the technicians are excited to be using the time saving precision mixing technology. “Previously, our paint technicians were taking approximately an hour per day each to mix their base coat colour, however with MOONWALK™ this will be done by the automated system freeing up time to increase vehicle throughput.”

The new state of the art equipment not only saves labour time but it’s environmentally friendly drop-free minimal mix dispensing solution reduces waste.

Andrew added: “I’m excited that this level of intelligence is now moving into bodyshops at grassroots level. We must always embrace change and I can see many benefits to stepping away from the conventional process of paint mixing. This is unchartered territory for AW bodyshops and I’m keen to hear the feedback from the site.”

AW shortlisted for Growing Business Award

AW Repair Group is delighted to be shortlisted in the National Growing Business Awards 2019.

Managing Director Andrew Walsh will attend a finalist’s interview later this month which will decide the winner from the seven companies shortlisted. The award category is seeking a winner that can demonstrate it has challenged conventional thinking in their market or industry and seen positive commercial results.

“We are never afraid to trial new technology and processes and find new ways to improve the vehicle crash repair journey for our customers,” said Andrew. “To have been shortlisted for this award is itself an acknowledgement to the AW team, whatever the final outcome.”

Judges for the National Growing Business Awards include representatives from household names such as Virgin Experience Days, Yo! Shushi, Go Ape, Bulldog Skincare and Santander.

A spokesman for the awards added: “Shortlisted companies have already demonstrated an in depth knowledge of the competitive landscape of their sector and how innovation is a key driver of the business strategy.”

The winners will be announced at a London ceremony in November.

Chance meeting leads to best loved partnership for AW & LV= General Insurance

AW Repair Group and LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) celebrated their “unique relationship” at the official opening of the group’s second sole supply site this week.

LV= GI Claims Director Martin Milliner recalled how a chance pairing on bus ride at the International Claims Summit in Portugal first introduced him to group MD Andrew Walsh.

“I was really impressed with what Andrew said back then and five years later to have two, potentially three, sole LV= sites is testament to that,” said Martin to the gathered guests at Denaby Main, South Yorkshire.

“To have 100 percent customer satisfaction and record key to key times is phenomenal,” Martin continued before cutting the ribbon. “Being a partner with a business like AW, who feel like part of the LV= GI family, and giving our customers Best Loved Service, makes our lives so much easier to work and build on that relationship so I can’t thank you enough on behalf of our people and customers.”

The 5,500sq ft dual-branded site is located alongside the group’s 15,000sq ft site and is perfectly located for LV= GI existing customers in the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield areas, taking the groups annualised turnover to £17.5M.

Managing Director Andrew Walsh concurred that people were essential to the partnership success. “We can’t do any of this without the support of all the team and we can truly say that we have a collaborative relationship. Everyone gives 100 percent to make this unique partnership work – great teams of people working together every day for our mutual customer.

“We strive to give an empathetic, individual customer experience which is underpinned by the LV= GI brand which we are proud to be associated with.”

The official opening event included demonstrations of Smart Air, Skate and Rail Vehicle Transfer System, digital LV= GI data capture and monitoring and Electric Vehicle Safety with Martin getting hands on alongside one of five multi-skilled technicians during the dent pulling demonstration.

Guests were also introduced to the group’s first female apprentice, 21-year old Summer, who was named as ‘Best Newcomer’ at ABP’s BRIAA’s in June and enjoys the quality working environment of 1000-Lux LED lighting, eco-friendly radiant heating & integral Minden dust extraction.

AW Repair Group would like to thank everyone who attended.



Pictured (left to right): LV=’s Regional Motor Network Technical Matt Poole, AW’s Group Operations Manager James Dunn, AW’s Customer Relations & Aftercare Manager Lorren Bristow, ABP Club Chairman David Cresswell, LV=’s Claims Director Martin Milliner,  LV= Network Management Team Hannah Weber, AW Repair Group Managing Director Andrew Walsh, AW Denaby General Manager Rob Mann, NBRA Director Chris Weeks, LV=’s Director of Motor Customer Claims Brian Hodge, AW’s Vehicle Damage Assessor Tony Skelton, LV= Head of Network and Engineering Chris Payne and LV= Network Manager Michael Golding.


AW sponsor community mining memorial

AW Repair Group is proud to sponsor a touching memorial commemorating lives lost in mining disasters near its Chesterfield Site.

Phase two of the Walking Together Trail sees eight life-size steel figures join the trail of 53 figures erected last year. Each carries a tag with the name of the miner, their job title and age who lost their life in the major mining disasters of 1937, 1938 & 1973 at the Markham Colliery.

The former colliery site was reclaimed by Henry Boot Developments and Derby County Council, which is working to create jobs for local people. In March 2015, AW Repair Group opened their fourth site at the flagship regeneration park at Markham Vale, just off junction 29A of the M1 and created 14-jobs in the area.

The 15,000 sq. ft. bodyshop was constructed by the county council’s private sector developer, Henry Boot Ltd. Since opening the site has recruited three apprentices to work in the vehicle body repair industry which add to the groups other 16 students in their Training & Apprenticeship Academy.

AW employees were pleased to attend to see the unveiling of the figure they have sponsored, remembering timber drawer Herbert Wale who lost his life aged 40.

Managing Director Andrew Walsh said he was privileged to support the Walking Together Trail.

It’s great to be able to contribute to a memorial that’s not only so important to this local community but also for visitors to reflect and interpret the site’s history, following the tragedies of the disasters at the colliery. We welcome anyone who visits our site at Markham Vale to walk over the road to the Markham Vale Environment Centre to view just a selection of the figures or indeed follow the whole trail,” said Andrew.

On 21 January 1937 an underground explosion claimed the lives of nine men, followed by a second explosion in 1938, where 79 miners lost their lives and 40 were seriously injured. The third disaster at the colliery took the lives of eighteen miners and 11 others suffered serious injuries when the mechanical brake on a lift carrying them to the coalface failed on 30 July, 1973.

Heritage Lottery Fund, Derby County Council (DCC) & the local community joined forces to create the trail symbolising a miner’s journey to the pit and back home again.

Designed by artist Stephen Broadbent, the dramatic figures have been created for visitors, workers and the local community to re-imagine and remember the lives of all miners, and in particular, those who lost their lives for their work.

“Markham’s three significant mining disasters must be remembered, but it quickly becomes clear that we must not forget the many other tragic mining deaths and significant injuries, and indeed the remarkable sacrifice all miners made to help build this nation’s prosperity. We believe the memorial also needs to convey a sense of celebration; of an important job well done; of a unique time and place; and a community’s spirit and resilience,” Stephen commented.

The memorial project won the award for ‘best volunteer project’ and the Markham Vale Heritage Group was also highly commended recognising the involvement of young people in heritage with its Story Mine project at the 2019 Derbyshire Heritage Awards.

The full trail map can be found here:


AW keep their customers cool

AW Repair Group updated their company slogan throughout the hot 2019 summer.

Their company slogan Keeping you moving™ expanded to Keeping you Cool while Keeping you Moving as all customers throughout August received a free reusable water bottle.

The corporate branded Blue & Orange refillable water bottles have been gifted to all customers collecting their vehicles during the heat of this year’s great British Summer.

The free gifts have come as a great delight to customers whose positive comments include: “What a great idea, with the huge push to reduce our plastic waste it’s just what I’ve been looking for” and “It fits perfectly in the car, so will make sure I’m keeping cool and hydrated whilst travelling the many miles I do.”

Employees at all eight AW sites have also been provided with an AW branded water bottle ensuring the teams stayed fully hydrated and cool during the hot period.

Added AW’s Partnerships & Communications Manager Jade Johnson: “Reducing the use of plastic and protecting our oceans is a matter close to the hearts of our directors so we took this opportunity to blend two passions together to benefit the environment, our customers and our team.”

Providing reusable water bottles also falls in line with AW’s Corporate & Social Responsibility and underpins their statements to reduce waste where practicable, keep packaging under control and safeguard the environment.

There are many benefits to reusable water bottles in favour of plastic bottles – reducing plastic pollution and waste in the oceans, the oil used to manufacture plastic bottles and greenhouse gas emissions and cost.

AW Doubles charity donations for Marie Curie

AW Repair Group has doubled the sponsorship money raised in branch for Marie Curie following the Coast 2 Coast cycle by LV= engineers last month.

Each of AW’s eight sites had a Marie Curie collection tin at reception, raising £110 which AW has doubled to £220 to donate to the Just Giving page.

This extra boost takes the total amount raised for Marie Curie to £4,565.

Thirteen cyclists in their AW branded cycle jerseys completed their 125-mile journey from Ilfracombe to Plymouth on their coast 2 coast charity ride. The cyclists included LV= Field engineers, Kevin Warren, Michael Routley, David Gold, Sean Carver, Stephen Gasson, Peter Savage and Robyn Joy, LV=’s Bristol & Huddersfield in-house engineers, Chris Tucker, Andrew Cross, Brian Kent and Steven Price along with LV= Regional Motor Network Technical Support, Gary Wheeldon and LV= Britannia Rescue Regional Network Manager, Bradley Williams.

LV= supported the event by matching charity donations up to the first £1,000 (included in the above total) whilst Enterprise Rent-A-Car supplied 3 support vehicles.

There is still time to donate by visiting:

Short Film Focuses on AW’s Fast Finish Centres

AW Repair Group, listed in the ABP Top 30 Independent Boydshop Groups, has released a ‘behind the scenes’ video showcasing their Fast Finish Centres.

In celebration of their first birthday this week (15th August) the focal point of the film is AW Fast Finish Centres (Derby), which specialises in small to medium repairs.

The 6,000 sq ft advanced bodyshop is located on Longbridge Lane, Ascot Business Park, two miles from the city centre and less than one mile from Pride Park with claims triaged by AW’s Central First Response Team at their HQ in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

The state of the art repair centre utilises the latest fast repair technologies available in the body repair industry and consists of a three-way Junair Multibooth allowing repair, spray & full bake in each cabin with a sliding door to minimise vehicle movements.

Other facilities include a dedicated area for alloy wheel repair with Wheel Blast unit, plastic welding stations and cold repair system, PowerTec Miracle Pull, PPG low energy Compact system, integral Minden Dust Extraction, mid-riser lifts, 1000Lux LED lighting and eco-friendly radiant heating, all providing a quality working environment.

Managed by Wayne Oakes, who has worked with AW for more than eight years said: “Along with the rapid repair processes and five multi skilled technicians working as a team we have managed to speed up the full repair journey. Customers are delighted they are getting their vehicles back sooner and the customer satisfaction is exceeding 98%”

Added Managing Director, Andrew Walsh: “Derby was the perfect location to support our other sites in the area. Triaging repairs from our First Response team is working very well and the site is achieving a quicker throughput without compromising quality or customer satisfaction.”

View the short video on our YouTube channel:

AW director receives global business leader award

AW Repair Group’s Managing Director has received a global accolade for business leadership.

Andrew Walsh is one of just 50 worldwide business leaders to receive the 2019 Global CEO Excellence Awards by digital publishers CEO Monthly.

The title of Auto Repair MD of the Year sits alongside global winners across diverse sectors including Catering (Switzerland), Chemical Products (Brazil), Compliance Software (Australia), Digital Marketing (Dubai), Pharmaceutical (Canada), Financial Planning (USA) and Automotive Manufacturer scooped by BMW Group UK’s CEO Graeme Grieve.

“A business is only as good as its leadership, and whilst it takes many hands to make a company work, CEOs and MDs hold the majority of the responsibility and power in any organisation,” said Awards Co-ordinator Katherine Benton.

“Every ship needs a captain, someone who can plot the course and navigate the waters rough and calm. That is why CEO Monthly has chosen to honour those individuals committed to driving business growth and baring the responsibility of making crucial corporate decisions which can make or break a business entity. This is a tough challenge and our awards highlight the very best of the best from across the corporate landscape.”

Added Andrew: “I’m really delighted to accept this award from Global CEO Magazine. As Katherine has said, a business is all about teamwork but there needs to be clear and consistent directives from the business leader to secure and maintain success in any market place.”

An interview with Andrew in CEO Global’s awards review special edition magazine Andrew comments: “Here at AW Repair Group the secret of our success is our innovative nature to devise processes to embrace the car manufacturing industry developments. Turning a smaller business into a larger business is perhaps the biggest challenge I have found over the years. Managing infrastructure, processes, delegation of trust to the right people, time management and balancing priorities have been my core roles over the past two decades. Through this process I have become a more equanimous person with regards to both business matters and our people, and as a result I am happy with the outcome of this invigorating journey.”

The awards judging panel reviewed independent research centred around the evaluation of skills and services on offer whilst recognising each nominee’s wider market reputation.

“Each case file was built by investigations into public domain sources including services, products, articles, client and customer testimonials, financial performance, presence within the industry, social media, recent project completions and more,” Katherine explained. “All shortlisted parties were then presented to our judging panel for their consideration and to move successfully from nominee to winner there must be evidence of expertise within a given field, dedication to customer service and client satisfaction with an ongoing commitment to excellence and innovation.”

Global CEO, part of the digital publishing powerhouse AI Global Media, has a subscription base of 60,000 business leaders across the globe and thousands more to its sister publications including LUXlife, Global Energy News and BUILD.

Read the full interview interview with Andrew in CEO Global’s awards review special edition magazine at




Work starts at AW’s ninth site

AW Repair Group is pleased to announce that expansion plans for the group are well underway with site nine due to open later this year.

The 9,000sq ft site is situated 30 minutes from major cities, Leeds, York and Wakefield and is only 25 miles from AW’s site in Denaby Main. The latest addition to AW group will create circa 12 jobs in the area with apprenticeship opportunities available.

Work has started this week on the modern detached building, which is just 10 minutes from the A1M and 20 minutes from the M62.

The purpose designed bodyshop utilises the latest technological advances available to maximise efficiency and will feature a 10m drive-through Junair spraybooth with QAD drying technology, Skate & Rail vehicle transfer system to minimise vehicle movements and PPG refinishing system. The site will include full Electric and Hybrid vehicle repair capabilities with all staff trained in EV’s to mirror AW’s other eight repair centres. The two-story offices will consist of AW corporate Blue and Orange branding throughout reception, admin offices and the meeting room.

The site will include integral Minden Dust Extraction, eco-friendly radiant heating and 1000 Lux LED Lighting, creating a quality working environment for the team who will be moving there from AW’s sister sites, where they have been training.

These expansion plans are announced only weeks after the opening of AW’s second LV= General Insurance sole supply site in Denaby Main.

Click below to watch AW’s Business Documentary on YouTube: