8 March 2023
8 March 2023, Comments Comments Off on Auto-Trail bids farewell to Dave Thomas and appoints Shane Devoy as its new MD
Auto-Trail bids farewell to Dave Thomas and appoints Shane Devoy as its new MD

After 28 years at Auto-Trail, Dave Thomas, Managing Director has now retired and left the business. His successor is Shane Devoy, who joined Auto-Trail in 1998, who has been joined on the Board of Directors by Commercial Director, Scott Stephens and Technical Director, Steve Moverley who (together) have nearly 80 years of experience.

Dave Thomas led the company through a continuous period of significant growth and success, overseeing the introduction of numerous popular ranges in the leisure vehicle market and growing the company’s workforce to over two hundred members of staff at its Grimsby headquarters. Dave’s leadership and contribution to Auto-Trail over a near thirty-year period have been greatly valued and appreciated, and he will be deeply missed by all.

The staff at Auto-Trail held a surprise retirement presentation for the outgoing Dave Thomas, who closed the day by addressing his workforce, after a look back through the years and stories being told by friends and colleagues celebrating his time at the company.

In a statement prior to his departure, Dave Thomas said, “With the 1st of March being St David’s Day and being Welsh for my sins, it seemed an appropriate day to leave the business.

“My first foray into the leisure industry was with Auto-homes in Poole, where I was Design Manager and then after a short period, Design Director. Auto-homes had an ageing product line up, but the company had low financial reserves as it had recently gone through a management change and went into receivership. It was a rather turbulent time having a young family, but with other ex-Auto-homes managers and potential shareholders, we formed Herald Motorhomes on the same site.

“I was then approached by ABI Leisure Group to become Design Director for their motorhome branch, Auto-Trail. Once again, we had an ageing line up of products, but an enthusiastic workforce. With ABI (our parent company) going into receivership, we also folded, just as our new products were starting to create interest. The team at Auto-Trail then completed a joint management buyout with CI of Italy and two years later, CI and Auto-Trail were bought by the Trigano Group and as they say, the rest is history!

“On leaving Auto-Trail, I shall miss the industry, the people in it and my Trigano colleagues, but now is the time to move on, spend more time with my family and who knows do something else to occupy my time.”

To read Aboutcamp BtoB’s recent interview with Dave Thomas, click here: https://www.aboutcampbtob.eu/dave-thomas-auto-trail/

Commercial Director Scott Stephens spoke of the respect he has for Dave Thomas and his desire to help continue to progress Auto-Trail. “My own experience working with Dave stretches over twenty years now and he is a true gentleman. He is a man who is not just your boss, but is also interested in you, the person, your family, and that really counts for a lot.

“With the direction of Dave Thomas, Shane Devoy and Steve Moverley, we made a great team which is what we strive to continue with in the future. There is a fantastic team of people here at Auto-Trail who are all striving to supply the best motorhomes in the industry.

“We could all learn a lesson from Dave. He is one of the founder guys who created this company and made it what it is today. We owe it to him and those before him to ensure this great company continues to be a market leader. Thank you for everything Dave and I wish you a very happy retirement”.

Steve Moverley spoke of his long working life with Dave Thomas and discussed the skills the workforce can relate to from its former Managing Director.

“I just want to thank Dave for his contribution to Auto-Trail and myself for the past twenty-eight years. Dave taught me some valuable skills over the years, which most of our staff can relate to.

“Get up and start the day as you mean to go on. He is usually one of the first in the office (except from myself!). If something looks half right, it will usually be okay. We have made some questionable decisions over the last twenty-eight years, but Dave has always pushed us to do this, and this is why we have been so successful.

“One of his favourite sayings is to grasp the nettle. If there is an issue, do not shy away from it, just get stuck in and sort it out and don’t be afraid to make decisions. If you make the wrong one, it is not an issue, just hold your hands up and come up with a backup plan.

“I would not be here if it were not for Dave offering me a job in the first place. The range of vehicles that we produce now looks very different from the early designs, but the formula still remains very much the same. All the best Dave and I wish you a happy retirement.”

After 25 years at the company himself, new Managing Director, Shane Devoy has a wealth of experience in the industry and is confident in Auto-Trail’s capability to go from strength-to-strength and grow to meet the ever-increasing popularity of the leisure vehicle industry despite industry-wide constraints.

Devoy spoke of the economic and supply constraints suffered by the industry but can see positivity on the horizon. “In the short term, I see the market holding up at the current levels despite the economic challenges facing consumers.

“Auto-Trail had been compromised in the last year as a result of the chassis supply constraints, but I see that improving a little in the coming year and Auto-Trail will be able to satisfy customer orders in a reduced timescale.

“In the next five years, the transition to electric vehicles will rapidly gather momentum across the whole automotive industry. Even though new diesel commercial vehicles will continue to be available beyond 2030, chassis manufacturers have already started the groundwork for an electrified landscape”.

Finally, Shane Devoy had some final words to say about his predecessor on behalf of the team at Auto-Trail.

“I just want to say what a great pleasure it has been working with Dave. The words he has written in the Auto-Trail story are powerful, encouraging and is destined to feature in the management philosophy of ours and future generations.

“Now, he is about to write another exciting story. One that I am sure will be as spirited and colourful that he has written for this company. On behalf of everybody at Auto-Trail, I want to wish Dave all the very best. Happy retirement Dave and thank you”.