Name of business:
Ecodrive Transmissions Limited
Steve Allen, Graham Evans and Philip Peake
Repair of ZF transmission, steering and axles plus other support services.
Manchester (Walkden) and Glasgow
“It’s the economy stupid” was the sign hung in Bill Clinton’s office back in 1992 to keep his campaign team on message. Today the message could be amended to include the environment as well.
As MD Steve Allen says: “We take a broken gearbox and make it as new. Our business is both ecological and economic.” Interestingly, Steve says new gearboxes come with 12-month guarantees while his reconditioned automatic gearboxes carry a three year warranty.
ZF are recognised as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of transmissions. And although Ecodrive has been in business for only seven years it is the only authorised ZF DriveCentre in Northern England, North Wales and Scotland. The firm operates from a 1300m2 head office, workshop and parts facility near Bolton, with another workshop and parts facility in Glasgow. Most of ZF transmissions for Europe are manufactured in Germany. And Steve, who drives an Audi himself, is a great fan of German engineering. He reveals: “ZF spend two to three years testing a gearbox before it goes into production.
“If I’ve got a problem I contact Nick. If it requires a specialist, for example it’s a complex tax issue or VAT, Nick simply finds the best person at Cassons to deal with it for me.”
Steve Allen, Managing Director, Ecodrive
Steve, now 46, has always had an interest in mechanical engineering. He started as an apprentice for Eaton gearboxes, the largest employer near his home in Walkden. After training as an engineer he went on to master sales and marketing and business skills before starting off on his own. As he says: “I was sick of working for others and making money for everybody else.” Steve describes the rate of technological change as ‘dramatic’. New gearboxes are developed every couple of years and Steve has to ensure that he and his staff constantly update and retrain. Faults on systems can now be tested and diagnosed on computer and many of the gearboxes themselves are computer controlled.
“I am delighted to work so closely with Ecodrive and to see their huge progress. I ensure their issues are dealt with either by me personally or with assistance from my colleagues who are specialists in different fields.”
Nick Stockton, Partner, Cassons
Ecodrive started with a small accountancy firm but after two years’ sustained growth it became apparent that a firm with greater skills and knowledge was needed. Steve says: “With Cassons we felt we had all the people in place that we needed for our future growth.” Cassons’ partner Nick Stockton looks after the auditing, accounting, payroll and financial planning for Ecodrive. Nick explains: “I am delighted to work so closely with Ecodrive and to see their huge progress. As the main contact for them at Cassons I ensure their issues are dealt with either by me personally or with assistance from my colleagues who are specialists in different fields.” Steve elaborates: “If I’ve got a problem I contact Nick. If it requires a specialist, for example it’s a complex tax issue or VAT issue, he simply finds the right person to deal with it for me. Plus Ashley helps with the strategic planning and growth. It’s a prime example of what Cassons can do!”