The story of Sparks Commercials started in 1990. One thing has remained constant throughout those years. Great customer service has always been the highest priority for the company, going that extra mile is not optional it’s mandatory.
In the beginning
The year was 1990, the Berlin wall had fallen, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and as well as holding down a full time job; Michael Spark was working evening and weekends completing repair and servicing work for his customers. Mike and Julie had talked for a long time about going it alone and as the private customer base grew they decided to take the plunge. Mike handed in his notice, bought a 307 Mercedes Sprinter service van and had enough cash to pay the mortgage for two months.
It was simple; use the skills Michael had spent years acquiring and Julie’s business mind to earn a decent living by creating a one-stop-shop for commercial vehicle servicing. They had the skills, the contacts and the acumen, all they needed was to put their heart and soul into the business and hope lady luck would smile on them.
The first step
The first few months were hard work; Mike was on call 24 hours a day and made sure he established a good reputation by taking on and completing all the work he could get. His hard work began to pay off and within a few months business was booming. Sparks had already taken on three staff and now had a busy workshop located in Newbridge. Julie worked tirelessly behind the scenes managing the accounts, chasing debts, marketing and developing the business, all whilst holding down a full time position. After 18 months Sparks was earning enough to take Julie on full time, she handed in her notice and took on all the admin and accounting roles at the Newbridge office.
By 1995 Sparks had grown considerably and now occupied a two bay workshop at Nursling. Mike and Julie were still looking forward. They knew there was still a lot of growing to do and that they would need a specialized workshop to accommodate the growth. The perfect site was found at Hounsdown near Southampton and negotiations began in earnest.
Business was still booming, Sparks reputation was helping to bring in a lot of work and the Nursling workshop was bursting at the seams. Progress at the new Hounsdown site was delayed due to drainage issues and Sparks needed to service more vehicles without incurring massive overheads. So began 24 hour shifts at Nursling, effectively adding 30% capacity to their already busy workshop. This was enough to tide them over for the next two years until once again they had outgrown their workshop and needed something bigger.
The giant leap
In 1998 Sparks moved to Portswood bus depot. Progress was finally being made on the Hounsdown purchase and in March 2000 Spark’s commercial services signed on the dotted line for the new one acre site. It was a huge investment and a massive risk but their business strategy was still working so Mike and Julie had confidence in their plan. The new workshop was purpose built for car transporters so that a fully loaded transporter could be serviced in the workshop. A full length service pit was also installed in each bay to allow access to the full length of the vehicle. Spark’s customer base continued to grow and it became apparent that the new yard wasn’t going to be big enough! Sparks managed to purchase more land attached to the Hounsdown site and in October 2001 cut the ribbon on their plush new office and purpose built workshop.
The growth continued and Sparks continued to look for new opportunities. In November 2004 Sparks opened a new site in Portsmouth with eleven bays and 30 more staff. In 2008 a sixth bay extension was added at the Hounsdown site which now covers 1.3 acres. Sparks now has a workforce in excess of 120 staff, they offer 24 hour servicing at both Southampton and Portsmouth sites. They provide breakdown recovery for commercial vehicles covering the whole of England. Sparks continue to invest in the business and opened the VOSA approved Authorised Testing Facility at their Portsmouth branch.
Moving Further afield
Sparks’s latest acquisition is in Swindon in 2015 they opened a new state of the art facility providing commercial vehicle servicing for businesses in and around the busy Swindon area. The site houses five full length bays. In addition Sparks recently took over Iceland’s Vehicle Maintenance Unit in Swindon.
Mike and Julie attribute the success of Sparks to having a great team of dedicated staff. Without their concerted efforts the continued growth would not be possible.