Family run automotive company D Oliver Auto Electrics, which was founded in 1974, is gearing up for a move into a purpose-built flagship facility after securing support from the County Durham Growth Fund.
The firm is now run by Darren Oliver, who took over from his dad David in 2019 after almost 20 years in the business. David, who is highly regarded in the motor trade, is now retired but still helps his son out when the pandemic allows.
The new facility will be built on a 0.75 acre site on Chapter Industrial Estate in Ferryhill and with the planning process in the final stages, work is expected to start in the coming months.
The site has been owned by the Oliver family for 12 years, however because of the costs associated with the project, nothing had been done with it until now.
But as the firm gradually outgrew the existing premises in the former Co-op Buildings at Owen Street, also in Ferryhill, Darren decided to explore what support was available to utilise the land and stumbled across the County Durham Growth Fund website.
He made an application for support and was lucky enough to secure sizeable grant, which is enabling him to push ahead with the expansion project – a project that will completely transform the business and the services Darren and his team of four are able to offer customers.
Darren said: “We’ve owned this land for around 12 years but couldn’t afford to do anything with it, even though we had reached capacity at our existing site.
“I’d never accessed any financial support before and didn’t really network so I had no idea what help was out there. I managed to stumble across the County Durham Growth Fund website and contacted them to see if they could help me.
“They confirmed they could which was fantastic and they also put me in touch with Guy Bashford from the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) team, who I can honestly say has been a tremendous help.
“After securing the funding I then needed to start the planning process but didn’t know enough to fully understand all of the stages I need to go through with Durham County Council. Guy explained everything and supported me at every stage. I don’t think it all would have been possible without his help.”
D Oliver Auto Electrics offers vehicle mechanical servicing, however as part of the move to the bigger site will be able to grow within the motor homes sector and service more electrical and hybrid vehicles. Darren also plans to invest in other equipment which will also allow the business to expand its customer portfolio.
The County Durham Growth Fund, which has recently been boosted with a further £4m to continue to support businesses in the area, is jointly managed by Business Durham and UMi with funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). All successful grants applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers.
Sarah Slaven, Managing Director of Business Durham, said: “D Oliver Auto Electrics is a family run business with its roots tracing back over 45 years in the county. With the grant secured through the County Durham Growth Fund and the support from our DBOP team, Darren is finally able to realise his ambitious vision for the land at Dean and Chapter Industrial Estate.”
Simon Allen, Investment Centre Director at UMi, said: “The fund was created to support businesses like D Oliver Auto Electrics, businesses that have a clear vision for growth but require additional assistance to implement their plans. We wish Darren the best of luck in this next stage of his growth journey.”
John Healey, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW LLP, said: “I am delighted that the fund has been able to support Darren and the team and look forward to seeing the building take shape over the coming months.”
Darlington-based building firm S&A Manufacturing is undertaking the building project, with work expected to start as soon as the final planning hurdles are overcome.