Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Interview with David Watkins, Director of Commercial Operations at Days

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It has been an eventful few weeks at the Day’s Transit Centre. Not only has the site turned 36, but the gentleman in charge of the operation has also just celebrated his 52nd anniversary in the business!

Director of Commercial Operations, David Watkins has spent his entire career at Day’s. Having started as an apprentice mechanic, before working his way up in this ever-evolving Welsh business, he has seen the Day’s brand (and the vehicles on offer) grow and develop at a rapid rate. In 1965, the Ford Transit was launched and David Watkins was there to safety test the first one to ever come through the Day’s workshops. In the 52 years since, he has witnessed the van become a British icon.

Over the years, David Watkins really has gained an incredible insight to the commercial vehicle sector, so we wanted to ask him a few questions about the market leading Ford Transit brand – and the way in which Day’s have embraced it for over 50 years…

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Please can you give us an overview of your career with Day’s…

I started my career as an apprentice mechanic in 1965 – the same year the Ford Transit was launched!

I completed a 5 year apprenticeship before Mr Day offered me a Trainee Salesman position. By the age of 26, I was promoted to Sales Manager and then at the age of 30, I was given the opportunity to run the Plasmarl depot.

At the time, the Plasmarl site was literally just plans on paper – it took around 12 months before the construction was completed in 1981. This week marks my 52nd year in the company!

What is your main role at Day’s now?

I oversee and run the van and truck operation at Day’s. It’s a 5 acre site with a dedicated Ford showroom and a 20 bay workshop. We have a highly trained, professional team of people here – the whole operation really is a cut above.

For those who aren’t in the know, please can you tell us about Day’s Transit Centre…

The label “Transit Centre” is relatively new, but at Day’s we have had a specialist van and truck centre for the past 36 years. Transit Centres are dedicated Ford commercial vehicle dealerships where you can be sure to receive an excellent service.

Our sales and service people are professionally trained, with exceptional knowledge of the Ford commercial vehicle range. Our extended opening hours also provide a huge bonus for our customers – as we recognise the need to keep your van or truck on the road.

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You safety checked the first ever Ford Transit that came to Day’s back in 1965 – did you think then that they’d turn out to be such a success?

It was obvious it was going to be a good vehicle, but I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the success of the Transit. I don’t think that Ford could have predicted it, even!

It has been a market leader for over 50 years – surely that’s a feat that will never be repeated by any other manufacturer.

The Ford Transit has become something of an icon in Britain. What do you think is the main reason for its success?

It’s down to Ford’s continuous development – they are constantly evolving. Combine that with their body styling and engineering excellence and you have a recipe for success.

What’s more, Ford listens to the demands of the market. They’ve introduced the Transit Courier, Transit Custom and Transit Connect – the Transit family caters for all demands.

What types of people and businesses visit Day’s Transit Centre?

We have local, national and international customers – many of which are major utilities companies and local authorities. You don’t have to own a business to visit the Transit Centre, however – we also cater for personal customers.

It seems that more and more people are purchasing vans for personal use, rather than business – would you agree?

Definitely. We have seen a huge increase in the popularity of dual cab vehicles. They offer enough space for a family to sit comfortably, whilst still having the load space in the back.

Many of the vans in the Transit family are often used as dual purpose vehicles. Leisure vehicles at weekends and commercial vehicles during the week.

What would be your top tips for someone looking to purchase a new commercial vehicle?

Remember that you always get what you pay for. When you buy from a Transit Centre, you are buying from a reputable, trusted and professional business.

Many people fall into the trap of opting for a lesser quality vehicle, because of the price. They invariably learn to regret that decision.

Over the years, you will have seen thousands of customers come through the doors. Are any of them particularly memorable?

I remember we supplied a demo Transit to a young Max Boyce when he first started out. Later on in his career, he bought a Ford Granada from us as a thank you for supporting him in his early days!

We also sold a Vista Orange Transit to Laura Ashley. It must have been around 45 years ago now, but I’ll never forget us delivering it to her base in Carno, Mid Wales.

What do you think the future holds for Day’s Transit Centre?

I believe it will go from strength to strength. The demand for Ford commercial vehicles is still very strong and I have no doubt that Ford will continue to innovate and therefore, remain incredibly popular in the commercial vehicle market.

If you could go back and give your apprentice-mechanic-self a word of advice, what would you say?

That’s a really tough question! To be honest, I don’t have any regrets about my career. I have always been driven by a desire to do everything to the very best of my ability – even from my very first shift at Day’s.

I’d just say to be true to myself and my beliefs – that’s what has got me to where I am today.