Starting from very humble beginnings with a recovery truck and a small compound in Prescot Merseyside, Vans North West Ltd was founded by Managing Director John Oakes in 2006, with an ambitious vision to be ALL things to ALL van customers at one location, and at the best possible price.
John has over 30 years of experience in the Light Commercial Vehicle industry, beginning his Commercial Vehicle industry career in 1986 as a Commercial Vehicle Technician. Following time served as a Commercial Vehicle Technician, John progressed with a move to Commercial Vehicle sales in 1992 at a local Mercedes-Benz franchise dealer, specialising in new and pre-owned Light Commercial Vehicle sales and progressing through the company in various buyer and management roles, ultimately managing a Mercedes-Benz dealer site in 2002. John continued his role in commercial vehicle sales until establishing Vans North West in June 2006.
In 2007, Vans North West employed its 1st member of staff. The first member of staff, John Leight, remains with Vans North West today, a habit most people adopt when they come to us and a testament to the company core values.
Graham Brown Joins Vans North West Ltd: In 2008, Graham Brown, lifelong friend of John Oakes, joined Vans North West as an Investor, Business Partner and 50% Owner.
Graham has over 30 years of experience in the Commercial Vehicle industry, starting his career as a Commercial Vehicle Painter at Sutton and Sons in St Helens. Graham is so old he remembers the day when painting vehicles with a brush was standard practice. Following the closure of the paint shop at Suttons in St Helens, Graham joined Ormskirk-based company Munro Commercials, where he progressed through the ranks and ultimately ended up managing the business for the Owner. In 2001, Graham joined the Liverpool-based Mercedes-Benz Light Commercial dealership, where he quickly became one of the most successful used vehicle salesmen at the company.
Vans North West Moves to New Site: Despite starting the business at the start of the banking financial crisis of 2007, and the largest economic recession since the great depression of the 1930s, 2008 saw the first stages of expansion for Vans North West Ltd. The successful start came with a move to a bigger and better location on the A580, East Lancashire Road, on the edge of Haydock Industrial Estate in St Helens.
The site went through a £100,000 re-development, from an overgrown brownfield makeshift car park into a site that would later welcome over 700 customers a year to place their trust in Vans North West Ltd to buy quality pre-owned vans.
In 2009, Vans North West Ltd become a United Rentals Group Licensee, providing an additional opportunity to acquire heavily discounted new vehicles through the buying power of United Rental Group, enabling the company to become a competitive New Vehicle Rental Provider in its customer offering.
Site Acquisition: 2010 presented a huge threat, or opportunity, to Vans North West Ltd. The land surrounding Vans North West was put up for sale, and a well-known car/van supermarket was poised to take the site, which threatened Vans North West’s existence. Still in the middle of the financial crisis, Vans North West Ltd took the very bold move to obtain funding in extremely testing times to acquire the site and secure the future of the company.
Vanarama Franchise Bought: In 2014, Vans North West Ltd purchased the Vanarama Leasing Franchise Territory for the North West. This enabled Vans North West Ltd to increase its customer offering from just used vehicles, rental vehicles and contract hire vehicles to leasing brand new Light Commercial Vehicles. Vans North West quickly established itself as one of the top-performing Vanarama Leasing Franchise Businesses in the UK.