Establishing JB Caravan and Trailer Services in 2011 was a labour of love for Jamie Bell as it combined two of his biggest joys in life – touring caravans and engineering.
Jamie gained his diploma in mechanical engineering nearly 30 years ago after a five-year apprenticeship. During a long career in industry, he was involved in design and prototype work, as well as servicing and repairing a wide range of equipment – from diesel driven generators and pumps to printing and photocopier machines.
It was his love of touring caravans, however, which was to inevitably shape his engineering future. He set up his own company, specialising in the repair and servicing of caravans and trailers. Jamie’s wife Jane, who heads up the marketing sides of the business, shares his passion. The couple went on honeymoon in a caravan and still hit the road in their tourer whenever they can.
We caught up with Jamie in our latest Supplier Spotlight.
Hi Jamie, thanks for catching up. Can you tell us more about your background and when the business was founded?
The business was founded in 2011, and we are both so proud of what we have achieved going into our tenth trading year. I am a ‘time served’ Mechanical Engineer qualified to Diploma level through a five year apprenticeship, with wide ranging engineering experience from diesel driven generators and pumping equipment, through to design/autocad, print solution service and repairs; which is in fact where I met my wife Jane who now takes the key administration role for the business.
Cross training into the leisure market in 2011 when we set up offering service and repair for all types of commercial trailers up to 3.5T, caravans and motorhomes, gaining industry focused qualifications and membership in the regulated Approved Workshop Scheme. Further qualifications took us into the catering and leisure hire market through Gas Safe registration, electrical certification followed to further enhance the total solutions we can provide our customers.
Tell us more about the services you provide to mobile catering businesses?
Being Gas Safe registered with COMCAT 1 through to 5, we can offer repair, complete fit out or conversion, and certification for any appliance within the catering LPG business sector. Having completed NTTA (National Towing and Trailer Association) trailer service training (including recent update course), for all mobile catering set ups using trailers an annual trailer service could be included along with gas certification. We are 18th edition electrically qualified and hold City & Guilds 2377 Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) certification. We are able to offer a full certification service, reducing downtime and contractor dealings for the owner/operator. Admin wise, my wife Jane schedules automatic re-bookings, with text and call reminders, as we see it as our job to monitor due dates so business owners have piece of mind that they will be safe and legal from year to year.
What’s included in a full service?
Full service of a trailer includes road lighting, hitch assembly, body and floor inspections, full braking inspection/clean and adjustment and report paperwork which we always recommend keeping with the vehicle in the event of DVSA stop check.
Full service of catering equipment at annual inspection point can be arranged if needed. Periodic inspection for certification includes all gas supply equipment, ventilation and extraction requirements, let-by testing, gas soundness testing (gas leaks), correct appliance flame pitch and operation, flame supervision device operation testing (which is a vital test to check if in the event of a flame going out gas supply is stopped for safety reasons). The annual electrical test and inspection covers mains inlet, wiring, consumer unit and socket outlets and annual Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is required for any appliances having a 3 pin domestic style plug.
What advice would you give to NCASS members thinking of purchasing a mobile van / trailer – what should they be looking out for in terms of safety features & legal documents?
I would urge any prospective purchasers to get a pre-purchase inspection which we do offer. Unfortunately we see so many set ups that just do not satisfy basic safety or appropriate standards. This is not only for the gas part of the unit you could be potentially spending thousands of pounds on, but also the electrical installation! We have seen so many dangerous things resulting in heart breaking and difficult conversations to be had with the new excited owners looking forward to their new venture.
What’s the most unique unit you’ve worked on over the years?
Its nice to see classic caravans/trailers and vehicles having a new lease of life, from Rice horse trailers to classic Citroen H vans, and they are all unique or eye catching in their own way. But the most unique, if you could call it that, would be gas testing the entire set up for Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market in 2019 – a big contract for us as a sole trader business and one that NCASS recommended us for. We were invited back this year for 2020 but with great sadness we all know what stopped that going ahead!!
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’ve been customer facing within the service sector for nearly 30 years and I still enjoy meeting people. Genuinely, myself and Jane both get a lot of satisfaction from having happy customers, through providing quality repairs and solutions. Our feedback on Google, Facebook and Approved Workshop Scheme (for which we are annually assessed) platforms speaks for itself, with so much business obtained via recommendation or repeat.
What areas do you cover and how do NCASS members book a service with you?
We are based in South Staffordshire and generally cover around 25 mile radius of WS7 postcode area, but do go further afield depending on our workload or the booking. I would actively encourage new businesses to book well in advance as even in our quieter time we can be booked month in advance minimum.
How can we contact you?
You can contact us on 01543 676098 (preferable) or 07790 404250, email us at [email protected]
Social media www.facebook.com/jbcaravanandtrailerservices