27 November 2018
Founded in 1952, the Cheshire-based Cartwright Group has risen from being a small coachwork and bodybuilder to being one of the world’s biggest names in the trailer and vehicle conversions industries.
In recent years, the company – which has its trailer manufacturing plant and head office in Altrincham – has placed a lot of focus behind growing its conversions business, which it established in Doncaster in 2016. Earlier this year, Cartwright opened a third manufacturing facility in Belton, North Lincolnshire, which focuses on its conversions business. It will be fully operational early in the New Year.
Transport News Brief caught up with Cartwright’s Group Managing Director Mark Cartwright to talk trailers and conversions.
How is the trailer and vehicle body market looking at the moment as we head towards the end of 2018?
It’s still looking very positive. Our order book is strong and there are still lots of opportunities. However we are not being naïve enough to underestimate the challenges we will face in 2019 as we leave the EU.
What do you think the current advantages and challenges are?
The main challenge is around levels of economic uncertainty, which are leading to extended decision times. However, our ability to offer rental means that we can still provide flexible solutions to our customers
How is Cartwright continuing to perform so well in such challenging conditions?
Our ability to offer a wide and diverse range of cost effective products and services to the highest standard, coupled with ability to offer rental and flexible solutions helps us stand out.
Cartwright Group recently opened new manufacturing facilities in Lincolnshire. What was the main reason for this and what does the facility provide?
Our rapidly expanding conversion business had outgrown its current facility, so we needed this investment in order to meet the demands of this constantly evolving market.
Are there plans to expand Cartwright’s manufacturing base to other areas of the UK or beyond?
Not at the moment, but who knows with Cartwright? It’s not something we’d rule out
Welfare conversions are a key part of Cartwright’s business
Do you think growth will come from the trailer side of the business or the conversions side?
Both, and potentially other areas too. The whole conversion industry has been all about reducing weight and alternative fuels. The alternative fuel debate is interesting in the conversion market – as a convertor we would only use an OE manufactured base vehicle, such as a Renault Master ZE. At this stage these vehicles are cost prohibitive in the markets which we serve and don’t have a sufficient range, for example patient transport service ambulances and welfare vehicles.
The latest diesel Euro 6 vehicles are technologically advanced and extremely efficient. They can be very much the right choice depending on the way in which they are used.
What do you think the big focus will be for trailer buyers in the near future and what innovations do you think can still be delivered?
We continue to offer cost effective and flexible options across our trailer and conversion range, with a continuing focus on reducing the carbon footprint of both us and our customers. Increasing our offerings in the urban delivery market will be key in 2019.
And finally, how is Cartwright working with local and national stakeholders to develop skills among young people in the UK in the face of a practical skills shortage?
We are extremely focused throughout the business in bridging the all-too-common skills gaps, and are dedicated to training from apprenticeships all the way up to senior management. We are proactive in working with the schools and colleges local to our manufacturing bases, and also to developing our own people throughout all areas of the business.