Fred Rees Garages ŠKODA, Haverfordwest.
Enterprise, hard work and a determination to give excellent service were the principles established by Mr Fred Rees when he launched his haulage and charabanc business in Neyland, Pembrokeshire in 1925. And the formula has been followed by his son and grandson ever since. Fred Rees Garages, now a household name in West Wales, started as a one-man business established from humble beginnings in a GWR railway shed with one lorry chassis with interchangeable bodies which doubled as a goods carrying vehicle and a charabanc.
Driving, maintenance, repair and administration were all down to Fred Rees, and adherence to those original principles saw the business grow until the outbreak of Second World War – by which time he was running a dozen lorries and coaches with a staff of over 25 people. Wartime austerity put a stop to fuel for coach trips, but the haulage business was at full stretch carrying building materials to the many airfields which were springing up around the county, flour to the county’s bakeries as well as cattle feeds, fertilisers and supplies for the agricultural and expanding potato industries. The coach and bus business revived after the war, with seven modern coaches providing trips all over the Country. But in 1948, by which time elder son Douglas Rees had left school and joined his father, nationalisation of the haulage industry saw the end of that side of the enterprise and Mr Fred Rees therefore had the foresight to redirect his business energies into the retail motor trade. He purchased and opened his garage at Perrots Road, Haverfordwest (Victoria Garage) and the Motor Trade business has traded from this same site ever since.
The coach business was sold in 1956 in order to expand the motor dealership and also to allow Mr Fred Rees to spend more time with his son, to groom him in his business principles. Two years later however, Mr Fred Rees died suddenly, leaving his son Douglas in sole charge. "It was almost as if he had a premonition because he insisted on teaching me the business not long before he died, drumming in the principles that good service and never breaking a promise were the most important things". The business took on the Rootes dealership in the 1960’s which later became Chrysler which unfortunately suffered its own international financial troubles in the mid 1970’s. In 1975, Douglas Rees decided to cease his Chrysler relationship and replaced such with the then up and coming Volvo franchise dealership that it held successfully until the late 1990’s.
In 1998 a major redesign and modernisation of the original garage premises were completed, coinciding with the advent of the town’s new road scheme, which meant the garage was now even more prominent on what became the second busiest roundabout in the town. At this time, a third generation joined the company – Ralph Rees, son of Douglas and grandson of the late Fred Rees. Ralph had been educated at local Grammar School and had spent many of his school holidays and weekends involved in the business from age of 12. After Grammar School, Ralph went on to study and complete a Business Management Degree at University of Glamorgan, followed by a placement at South East of England large Motor Trade Group, Caffyns. Ralph then joined the business full time in 1990, and he too was groomed in those original business principles of giving excellent service and value for money.
In 2000, Douglas and Ralph could see the emergence and potential future growth opportunities of the ŠKODA range of cars (following the investment that the VW Group had made) and courted appointment as a retailer for such, which was successfully granted in June 2001. A further opportunity came to fruition at this time in the purchase of an adjacent former petrol station, which Douglas and Ralph developed into an All Makes Used Car Centre but still managed and administered from the main garage and showroom premises.
From 1990 onwards, Ralph grew in experience from the teachings of his father and the business successfully grew whilst still ensuring that focus on Customer Service and Satisfaction was paramount. Douglas Rees "semi retired" in the early 2000’s but still enjoyed a few hours a day, most days of the week, being at the business, meeting customers, new and old. He then unfortunately suffered a stroke in 2006 and sadly passed away in December 2008, leaving son Ralph as Main Director and Shareholder to continue the next chapter of this successful, local, privately owned company. Ralph’s mother (and widow of Douglas, Mrs June Rees) is also still a Director and minority Shareholder and does take an active interest in the day to day running and success of the business.
The ŠKODA Brand has, as both Douglas and Ralph had the foresight to recognise back in 2001, grown immensely and very successfully over those past 17 years, and as a result offers a width and depth of models that suit the West Wales motorist – now with a 7 car model line up offering cars, estates and 4WDs from £9,000.
2015 saw the landmark of 90 years trading for Fred Rees Garages and also the achievement of being awarded ŠKODA Retailer of the Year for the whole of the UK. It also was the year where a major refurbishment of the premises was successfully completed, implementing the latest ŠKODA Brand Identity. 2016 witnessed the winning of SKODA Retailer of the Year Award for a second consecutive year. It is the present Director and grandson of the late Fred Rees, Ralph Rees’s intention, drive and motivation to ensure that the Company now continues to progress to and surpass its Centenary.
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