Pri Chauhan shows us around a recruitment business that has an unusual point of difference.
Imagine for a moment that you own a successful recruitment business and you wish to expand, what would the next step be? Perhaps you’d hire more staff and find a larger office? You might want to reach out to more potential clients through social media such as LinkedIn or Google Circles.
PG Automotive, a firm that wanted to expand from a small business suite wished to do all of these, but simply renting a f loor of an office block must have seemed too pedestrian for the management duo of Pete George and Pri Chauhan. Both are huge petrol-heads and the recruitment business that they own is focussed on the aftermarket… So perhaps it wasn’t such a huge leap of logic that they decided to expand into car detailing. The idea for the business was hit on following a meeting with Reep CEO Chris McDonald.
The industrial unit chosen for the expansion is a lofty building, which PG fitted out with an upstairs area used for the recruitment agency offices. These are what you might expect, but it is the ground f loor that is altogether more interesting. A reception area resembles a boho New York loft, complete with contemporary furniture and lifestyle magazines. This leads through to a number of client rooms, which have floor to ceiling internal windows that look over the detailing bays. These rooms, which are also tastefully furnished can be either used for clients visiting the recruitment consultants, or for people wanting to watch and wait as their vehicle is detailed. “We did a lot of it ourselves” Chauhan recalled. “It cost Pete (George) a bad back and me a double hernia”.
Don’t confuse this operation with the sort of hand car washes you see in closed-down petrol
stations on trunk roads around the country. Reep comprises of some of the highest-end detailing products in the industry including Swissvax UK, Koch Chemie and Gtecniq. Indeed, it does not refer to itself as a distributor of car cleaning materials – the website prefers the term ‘world class surface technology’.
Whatever you want to call the service, the vehicles on the work area f loor on the day of our visit show that PG’s networking skills have resulted in a client base that most independent garages can only dream of. The car nearest the door to us was a mid-1960s Mustang convertible and it was probably the least valuable vehicle in the building. Waiting in the queue were two Ferrari 458s, an Aston and several Porsches and while we were visiting another car, which we think was a Lamborghini Aventador was unloaded from a curtain side trailer.
Having the detailing business has worked well for the recruitment firm as Chauhan says it gives the firm a point of differentiation and links it inextricably with the aftermarket. “I’ve enjoyed bringing clients here and they get it straight away. If there is a particular car in that they like we’ll arrange to see them while it is in and they can have a picture with it – though they can’t sit in it!” smiles Chauhan.
The bays themselves are described as F1-themed, though to our mind they more resembled spray booths in a bodyshop. Each one is temperature controlled and evenly lit and none have anywhere for dirt or contamination to build up. Alongside usual detailing facilities, the Gtechniq ceramic protection mentioned by Chauhan has been popular as it is tougher and more durable than traditional paint protection offered by dealerships.
One area where the bosses don’t get their hands dirty is in the detailing itself. As a recruitment company, it wasn’t too hard to find experienced professionals that wanted to work in a place such as this.
Indeed, it hasn’t been much trouble in getting anyone through the door as the team found at a launch event on a cold, wet Sunday in February. A capacity crowd turned up at the industrial estate to see some of the exotic cars that had been brought by customers to the gleaming facility. We’ll be interested to see how this hybrid business develops over the coming months.