Northside launches apprentice ‘job swap’ with high-profile customer

Mercedes-Benz Dealer Northside Truck & Van has underlined its reputation for innovation and commitment to customer service by launching a new apprentice swap scheme.
 
The Dealer, which represents the three-pointed star in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, is sending members of its team to work for companies that rely on its back-up, and hosting their young people in return.  

Heron Foods’ Will Massey, left, is shown how it’s done by Northside’s Tom Christie in the Dealer’s Hull workshop.
 
The exchange initiative has been designed to support Northside’s award-winning staff development strategy, while also strengthening its relationships with key customers.
 
The first such ‘job swap’ involved Northside’s Tom Christie – the recently crowned Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Technical Apprentice of the Year – and Will Massey, Transport Supervisor at high-profile supermarket retailer Heron Foods.  Each spent a week based at the other’s place of work, giving them invaluable insights into the procedures of and pressures on their respective businesses.  
 
Their exchange was co-ordinated by the Hull-based operator’s Head of Logistics Karl Dawson, and Simon Rennison, who manages Northside Truck & Van’s depot in the city.
 
Simon Rennison explained: “At Northside we realise that not every customer is the same, so not every customer requires the same type of service. This initiative can only help us to better understand the individual needs of operators, and to tailor our services accordingly.”   
 
Heron Foods opened its first store in Hull in 1979. It now serves customers with “top quality products at the lowest possible prices” from more than 250 locations throughout the North of England and the Midlands. The family-owned company runs a fleet of 45 trucks – a number are Mercedes-Benz models supplied and serviced by Northside.
 
Heron Foods’ Transport Manager Andy Barratt observed: “With over 250 deliveries leaving head office daily, it is vital that as our fleet supplier and maintainer Northside should understand just how much we rely on its services. Even one truck off the road would have a huge impact on our business, so our relationship with the Dealer is vital.”
 
Will Massey, aged 19, joined Heron Foods three years ago. He said of his week-long stint with Northside: “I’m talking to the guys at the dealership several times a day so it was really useful to spend time with them, build on relationships and identify some of the things we can do to make the process of interaction between our two companies smoother and more efficient. From a personal point of view, meanwhile, it was also a great opportunity to broaden my horizons.”
 
His view was echoed by 18-year-old Tom Christie, a third-year Mercedes-Benz Technical apprentice based at the Dealer’s Hull branch. Tom spent two days out on the road making deliveries as well as spending time in the traffic office. “It was a very enjoyable and interesting experience,” he recalled. “If I came away with one overriding impression, it was of how critical it is to Heron Foods that its vehicles are available for work when they’re needed.”
 
Winner of the prestigious Apprenticeship of the Year title at the 2015 Motor Transport Awards, Northside Truck & Van invests heavily in growing “the leaders of tomorrow”. Its trainees are dominating the Mercedes-Benz Apprentice of the Year Awards – while Tom won the latest prize for Technical apprentices, his Hull-based colleague Joshua Allen took the Parts apprentice honours, with Simon Brooks, who works at the company’s Doncaster branch, one of two runners-up.  Their achievements follow that of Northside, York’s Harry Atkinson, the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Technical Apprentice of the Year for 2015.
 
Northside Truck & Van has represented Mercedes-Benz in West and South Yorkshire since the 1970s. In 2012 the manufacturer rewarded the Dealer for its customer-focused success by greatly extending its area of responsibility to include North Lincolnshire, as well as East and North Yorkshire. Since then Northside has made a series of major capital investments, opening new facilities in Immingham, Hull & York, and undertaking extensive refurbishments across its other locations in Bradford, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield.

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