On 5th November 2010, we celebrated our 60th Anniversary.
The company was founded by William (WP or Bill) Lewis, Stuart’s father. At the time, the Greenfield Garage site included a two pump petrol station and a small workshop which specialised in motor vehicle and agricultural engineering. Bills own specialism was of restoring and overhauling engines. This specialism attracted those from the farming community and this created the foundations for the company’s progression.
In 1960, a new larger workshop was built which could house the company’s growing commercial vehicle servicing and repair business. The numbers of staff were now steadily growing and in 1961 Stuart joined his father as an apprentice.
Only a few years later in 1964, Stuart was invited to become partner and the company subsequently became what it’s known as today, W. P. Lewis & Son.
The company became one of the first local garages to acquire a Crypton Engine Analyser. The team’s expertise in this field grew until customers were coming from far and wide to have their engines tuned or faults diagnosed and for some years this operation took over from the engine overhauling specialism.
In 1975, the company made an expansion into car sales after being approached by Avon Garage of Maesteg, an Opel dealership, to become one of their Authorised Service Operations. This venture was successful enough that in 1977 Main dealer status was applied for and was successfully achieved.
Many people did not know much about the Opel brand at the time. However, in 1977, the previously very onerous restrictions on vehicle leasing were removed. Opel saw this as an opportunity not to be missed and introduced this new concept to their dealers at a very early stage and offered excellent support and training. This was just what the boys were looking for and they eagerly set out to sell leasing and fulfilling the leases with Opel cars. This again proved another specialism which took the company forward. The company became the foremost leasing specialists in Pembrokeshire.
In 1979, a new showroom was built in time to launch the new Opel Kadett and during the launch evening all five of the launch vehicles were sold.
By now the staff totalled fifteen, six of whom were workshop technicians or apprentices.
In 1981, General Motors took the decision to badge all vehicles sold in the UK as Vauxhall. W. P. Lewis and Son were thus appointed Vauxhall main dealers for South Pembrokeshire. The registration analysis of the first full year that W.P. Lewis and Son was a Vauxhall dealer (1982) makes interesting reading. The total new car registrations for the year in South Pembrokeshire was 1245 with Ford, the market leader, Rover second with 225 cars, and Vauxhall a distant third with 134 cars. W. P. Lewis and Son accounted for 120 of this total.
As W. P. Lewis and Son continued to expand and prosper, a partnership was formed in July 1991 with Haydn Bateman in establishing Pembroke Coachworks, an accident repair centre in Pembroke Dock. This Vauxhall approved body centre offers a 24 hour accident recovery service, with the ability to repair all makes or models of cars and light van and is still linked very closely with the dealership.
Another landmark event took place in the July of 1995 when Haven Bridge was opened as a W. P. Lewis and Son Nissan franchise based in Neyland. This has since been converted into a used car only dealership mainly specialising in selling used Vauxhall and Nissan cars.
In 1996, Bill Lewis – or “The Boss” as he was affectionately know by the family, staff, friends and Vauxhall Motors alike was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours. He had been the Conductor of Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir since its formation in 1950 and the citation to the award reads “for his services to Welsh Amateur Music”. Everyone who knew him was very proud of this achievement. Being now 81 years of age, he was certainly the oldest Retail Operator in the Vauxhall Network and had passed the Vauxhall Retail Operators Assessment.
In 1997, Bill’s grandsons Steven and Gareth were invited to become partners having worked in the company since leaving school at sixteen. Steven is now Managing Director of W P Lewis and Son of Pembroke Dock and also of the Neyland dealership.
In the late 1990’s, it was decided that the dealership would be refurbished, adding a Masterfit department. Unfortunately, Bill was unable to see the end result. Bill was a loyal Deacon of the Bethany Chapel in Pembroke Dock. On the 8th August 1999 at the end of a service, Bill was suddenly taken ill and passed away. The respect with which he was held was reflected in one of the largest funerals ever seen in Pembroke Dock, attended by people from all walks of life including representatives of the Retail Motor Trade in South Wales and many of his fellow Vauxhall Retailers and representatives from Vauxhall Motors.
On the day following the Boss’s death, it was decided that plans would continue as the Boss would have wanted and the team commenced a complete renovation of the Dealership, including the installation of Masterfit.
The service department has always been important to W. P. Lewis and Son because Stuart firmly believed that whilst the sales department may sell the first car, the service department sells the second. Whilst very large corporations have discovered “customer care” in the last ten years or so, W. P. Lewis and Son have had to depend on it for its very existence for sixty years. The Dealership’s success in this area is evidenced by our consistent record over the years in Vauxhall Motors Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Survey and Service Satisfaction Survey league tables and our exceptional customer loyalty. One fundamental factor in achieving our required Aftersales standards is that we mainly recruit apprentices and then train them in the job and culture. Two current technicians joined when aged 15, John Griffiths in 1966 and Kelvin Scourfield in 1970. Staff turnover is minimal.
Sadly, on the 1st of July 2012 Stuart, our Dealer Principal, suddenly passed away. This has been a huge loss to both the family and the staff and the effect was felt throughout the community. Like his father before him, an attendance exceeding 1,000 people attended his funeral at Bethany Baptist Chapel, Pembroke Dock.
We have pledged to continue to run W. P. Lewis and Son with the same ethics, the same integrity and the same care for its customers and staff that Bill Lewis MBE and his son Stuart had instilled in the company for nearly 60 years. The late Stuart Lewis once quoted "We at W. P. Lewis and Son have every confidence in the future and I try to instil in all my staff, don’t wait for the good times – these are the good times. On November 5th 2010 we celebrated our 60th Anniversary. I am determined that with a solid base we have already put down and our ability as a Company to change, to respond to the market and to be innovative, W P Lewis & Son will celebrate it's 100th Anniversary"
Mrs Margaret Lewis, Stuart’s widow has now become Company Director, alongside her Nephew Steve.
"We would like to thank all those over the years who have supported us, helping make W. P. Lewis and Son the success that we are today." Steve Lloyd