Leading outsource and labour services provider Smart Solutions has capped another record-breaking year by making its first investments in fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The Newport-based company is now running five Citan 109 CDIs which, it estimates, will save around £15,000 a year on its diesel bill.
The Citan is the smallest van ever to wear a Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star. Supplied by South Wales Dealer Euro Commercials, Smart Solutions’ Extra-long crew van models have been assigned to its Security and Cleaning Management teams.
Smart Solutions was founded in 2007 by Chief Executive Nathan Bowles, and achieved sales in its first year of £262,000. By 2010 it was the fastest-growing firm in Wales, since when it has maintained its relentless progress – turnover for the last financial year reached a new high of £82 million.
Operations Director Steve Hancock said that having previously operated an assortment of vans and 4×4 cars, the company had now resolved to consolidate its fleet around a single marque.
“We were looking to achieve a degree of standardisation and approached several manufacturers, with reliability, mpg performance, servicing and image all high on our list of priorities,” he said. “Euro Commercials provided Citan and mid-size Vito demonstration units for trial, and we felt both represented excellent value for money.”
Mr Hancock continued: “I’ve taken the wheel myself and the Citan has a nice, comfortable driving position, while the crew van specification means we can also use these vehicles to transport teams of staff to contract locations – our previous van supplier does not offer a similarly-sized van with a second row of seats.”
Powered by an advanced 90 hp engine, the Citan 109 CDI boasts a combined cycle economy figure of up 61.4 mpg. “In terms of fuel-efficiency the Citan represents a big improvement on our previous vehicles, particularly the 4x4s,” observed Mr Hancock. “We expect these Mercedes-Benz vans to save us around £15,000 a year in fuel costs.”
Smart Solutions has taken out a four-year Complete Care contract, under which its new vans will be serviced and repaired by Euro Commercials’ factory-trained technicians fitting only Mercedes-Benz GenuineParts. The fixed-cost agreement allows the operator to budget with confidence.
“In terms of image, Mercedes-Benz is also an ideal ‘fit’ for us,” added Mr Hancock. “The case I was able to put to my Board was therefore very strong – the Citan won hands down all round.”
He concluded: “The Dealer pulled out all the stops to deliver our new vans in time for an important compliance inspection. In fact, the Euro Commercials team have been highly supportive throughout.
“There has been none of the inflexibility and ‘This is the deal, take it or leave it’ attitude one might expect from a top brand; instead, they have really tried to surpass all our expectations, which has been a very pleasant surprise.”
Highlights of the last financial year for Smart Solutions included the openings of new offices in Chester, Leicester and Norwich, and the multi-million pound acquisition of specialist recruitment business Right Direction UK.
Nathan Bowles said: “The investment in RDUK is an exciting step for Smart Solutions as we continue to work towards our ambition of having a portfolio of ‘blue chip’ clients with multi-service and multi-site complexities.”