Tag Archive | "Snap-on"


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It’s a proud day for the team at Kings Lynn-based Snap-on equipment. The building is spick and span, and the top team, including MD Mark Ost, are sporting their best suits in anticipation of the arrival of some VIP visitors who will be attending to present the company with a brace of highly prized and prestigious Queen’s Awards, one for Enterprise and another for Innovation.

The journey to obtaining the royal stamp of approval hasn’t been easy though. Take the building for example. Originally it was a generously sized but utterly unremarkable structure on the Denny Road industrial estate. The site is a warehouse, but it is also used for customer demonstrations of equipment, and is home to scores of office workers taking customer orders and resolving queries, so when the building was in need of a refit, it made sense to transform it into an appealing place for workers and visitors alike.

However, there was no option to move everyone out while work was in progress, which meant months of disruption while staircases were moved and built elsewhere, glass installed and wiring relaid. Even the roof was entirely replaced, which took place during the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap, which meant the office staff had to stay in their warm pullovers for several days. “Luckily, we didn’t get a single industrial tribunal,” Ost joked.

The result of months of disruption is a high-tech centre, with lots of chrome and glass, as well as a decent-sized staff break room and an outside barbecue area. Offices are open-plan and Ost told us that it is company policy for senior managers to keep their office doors physically open at all times unless they are in a one-to-one meeting.

Welcoming though the new building is, the firm didn’t win the awards for an office refurb. The Innovation prize was awarded for a new diagnostic platform known as ‘Zeus’ that differs from rivals by including an ‘expert learning’ feature, wherein a central server builds up data from jobs logged and uses AI to recommend the correct diagnostic process and likely causes of faults.

Since its launch, the company has sold plenty of units across the UK via its franchised agent network. The tools have mainly appealed to garage customers upgrading from earlier Snap-on diagnostic platforms.

However, Ost recognised that the UK market for scan tools was saturated, as even just taking into consideration Snap-on products, ‘there are more tools out there than there are technicians’. The company wanted to sell into new markets, and there was plenty of opportunity in Europe as the franchise sales model wasn’t as established over there.

Deals were struck with several mainland distributors and the tool was soon a success, which made the company eligible to receive the Enterprise Award for overseas sales.

Back to today’s event, and the local mayor, resplendent in gold chains, is standing alongside someone with the title of ‘Queens Equerry’ in front of all the Snap-on staff and local press. As testament to the significance of the landmark ceremony, Ost has turned the office phones off for ten minutes, something which has probably never happened before in the history of the company. After handshakes and a quick tour of the plant, the trophies, a pair of giant glass vases, are taken to the boardroom to be put on display, and it’s back to business as usual at this hardworking company.

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Toolmaker Snap-on has halved the start-up fee for people wishing to join its mobile sales franchise for a limited time.

Alex McNellan took advantage of the cut-price offer

The package is available across the UK, and the only condition applied to the new offering is that new recruits must be able to train and be out on the road by 30th March 2020. The same offer had been trialled in across a limited area in 2018.

“I’d been a Snap-on customer for years and had always been interested in the starting up with my own van, but it was the promotional price that encouraged me to finally decide to just go for it,” says Alex McNellan, who launched his business during the 2018 promotion. “I think it’s an incredible opportunity for people like me, who might be on the fence about investing in their own business”.  




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Tool and equipment supplier Snap-on has been admitted to having it’s sales website hacked and UK customer data compromised.

Names and email addresses of registered customers were taken from the buy1.snapon site. Credit card or other payment details remain secure as these are processed by a secure third party and are not on Snap-on’s database.

The firm learnt of the breach with the assistance of a cybersecurity company and immediately informed the FBI. Affected customers then received a letter from the company explaining the situation.

Countries affected by the incident include the UK as well as New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Although the company is U.S based, the online platform has not been used domestically since 2013.

At Snap-on, we understand the importance of our customer’s information and we are working continually to strengthen our security systems and protect our customers’ data” the company said in a statement after confirming the facts of the breach.  At the time of writing, the affected site remains offline.

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Nikos Germanou shows us around the Brunswick Garage in North London


After businessman (and CAT columnist) Andy Savva sold north-London’s Brunswick Garage last December, we were keen to see the operation in new hands. Nikos Germanou, Managing Director worked with Savva for over 16 years; starting his career at the tender age of 17. Germanou explained: “I started with Andy in 1990 at his ‘then’ garage Motor Services in Muswell Hill before moving to the Shaftesbury Garage in Crouch End where we won the Independent Garage of the Year Award 2001”.

Savva eventually sold Shaftesbury Garage, East Barnet, in 2005, with Germanou moving on shortly after to manage an independent in Welham Green for eight years before rejoining Andy at Brunswick Garage in 2014. He elaborated: “I ran the Welham Garage for eight years, building up the business and making a good profit, but I wanted a little bit more from the company than just a wage, so I decided to look for my own garage”. Germanou was advised by Savva not to buy any of the garages he had viewed and instead, offered him a Manager’s position with bonus schemes at Brunswick Garage.

In 2015, Savva was ready to sell up in order to pursue other business ventures leaving Germanou to continue working under new management. However, after completing a management buyout with a team of private investors, Germanou became one of the new owners who carried on the business. “It was a big step buying the garage because of the amount of money, but after getting a partner in, we managed to
buy the business within a month” he said.
“From day one, I have always followed in Andy’s footstep’s and the way I run the garage is exactly how he runs it by always putting the customers first”.

As we entered the workshop, it reminded us that this is larger than your standard independent with the 14,000 sq ft. space comprising 12 service ramps, one wheel ramp and two MOT bays catering to class four, five and seven vehicles. Germanou elaborated: “The core vehicles we work on are BMW, VAG and Land Rover. We also do other brands from Minis up to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley, so we have quite a vast range of cars that we cater for”.

With so many different models coming in for servicing, the team are equipped for the challenge thanks to the latest diagnostic tools and garage equipment on site. “The main diagnostic tool we use is the new Autologic Assist”, said Germanou. “We also use the Snap-on Verus Pro tool for fixing faults first time round”. He told CAT that Tecalemit is the firm’s core supplier for its braking, testing and lifting equipment.

It seems imperative whether you’re running an independent or franchised garage to invest in staff training to keep workforces updated with ongoing product developments. Brunswick Garage stays ahead of the game by sending its technicians on at least two courses each year. “We are part of the Royal Motoring Industry (RMI) so we try to do as many Bosch courses as we can”, Germanou added: “We are also doing a few BMW courses at the BMW Academy and some ZF training courses”.

Workshop has 12 service ramps

Workshop has 12 service ramps

Although it’s mandatory to get your staff fully trained, enrolling onto a course can get pricey, especially with the changes to MOT Tester Training as Germanou highlights: “The changes to MOT tester training has affected us in a way because I’m trying to get some of our guys trained up and the RMI training courses aren’t cheap anymore whereas before it was free through the government. This has left us funding the training ourselves which is a little hard along with the amount of time off for staff as well”. Funding issues aside, this doesn’t seem to have taken a toll on business with some exciting plans in the pipeline.

While the team prepare for the winter months, Germanou discussed his business strategy for the New Year. “In 2017, I’d like to achieve one or two more staff from the Land Rover or VAG brands, which would benefit the company. There’s also going to be many more hybrids coming in the next couple of years so we’re trying to organise some courses for that”, he concluded: “My view is to progress with the training to try and become one of the first independent hybrid specialists. It’s all about electronics now and that’s what I’m aiming towards for the future”.

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