WELL-KNOWN RECOVERY FIGURE DAVE CROUCH TELLS ON SCENE WHY, DESPITE THE MANY TECHNICAL ADVANCES OF MODERN EQUIPMENT, HE STILL RATES OLDER KIT – AND IN PARTICULAR, ANYTHING WITH A SCAMMELL BADGE ON IT.
One of the best known and respected figures in the recovery industry is Dave Crouch of Kibworth, Leicestershire-based Crouch Recovery – someone who has really seen it all after a lifetime’s experience at the helm of one of the most progressive operators in the UK. Dave has taken the company from a simple garage-based recovery service to a large operation with multiple depots and a big fleet of recovery vehicles that can handle everything from a motorbike to a 100-plus tonne mobile crane.
Although the next generation, in the form of his son Adam, is now in charge of the mainstream recovery business, Dave still gets involved as required, while devoting most of his time to the Crouch sales operation, buying and selling ex-military vehicles, parts and equipment, along with whatever else catches his experienced eye. His other son Richard is also involved in this side of the operation, dealing with customers and suppliers worldwide.
DYNES GROUP IS A TRUE RECOVERY DYNASTY, GROWING IN THE LAST 20 YEARS FROM A STAFF OF TWO WITH THREE VEHICLES TO OVER 140 PERSONNEL WITH 100 TRUCKS AND VANS. ON SCENE FINDS OUT HOW IT HAS MANAGED IT.
The Dynes name has been synonymous with recovery in the south-east of England for over 20 years. The Dynes family established the first car hire business in London during the post-war years and during the next three decades, it expanded to become the leading supplier of hire vehicles in the area. The family also diversified into property and this became its focus in latter years. It was during 1995 that Andy Nock, an engineer by trade, took over the Dynes brand name and began to establish a garage and recovery and breakdown service.
Andy’s father was a tanker fitter for Shell in Silvertown, London, which ran its own vehicles to transport fuel from its riverside refinery to fuel stations. Andy found himself to be similarly mechanically minded and began work as an apprentice with a Ford dealership, which led to him getting his first taste of recovery.
“Apprenticeships are great, but they don’t pay too well to begin with,” he tells us. “So to get extra money, you could drive the recovery truck. Every car dealer had one back in the day. I started doing that at 19, and then I progressed to become a qualified technician and then a master tech. It was great experience and I learned a lot but by the early 1990s, I knew I wanted to get out and do my own thing.”
BELL TRUCK SERVICES IS ONE OF THE LONGEST ESTABLISHED RECOVERY BUSINESSES IN THE EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE, RUNNING A MIXED FLEET OF BEAUTIES INCLUDING SECOND-GENERATION OWNER MEL BELL'S OWN 'YORKSHIRE PRINCESS'. ON SCENE REPORTS.
If you’re in the East Riding of Yorkshire and you see a vehicle being recovered by someone in a bright pink hard hat, the chances are it will be Melanie Bell from Bell Truck Services. Mel’s hard hat is a well-known fixture in the area – as is Bell Truck Services itself, which was set up by Melanie’s father, Robin, back in 1979.
Today, Melanie oversees the day-to-day running of the business as well as getting out in her own truck, ‘Yorkshire Princess’ – a head-turning new DAF CF 530 – to carry out recoveries. “I’ve been out quite a few times this year,” she says. “They’ve been all been heavy jobs that require winching. That’s quite typical of the jobs we have – we have rural areas and often, vehicles can become stuck.”
With the seasons moving from autumn to winter when we visited, Melanie was expecting to spend more of her time on the road as conditions worsened, with verges, ditches and the like becoming boggier and more vehicles requiring winching to safety.
NOT MANY RECOVERY OPERATORS CAN SAY THEY'VE FACED DOWN A CHARGING BEAR IN THE SNOWY WILDS OF THE FINNISH/RUSSIAN BORDER. BUT THEN NOT MANY RUN A PHOTOGRAPHIC TOUR BUSINESS ALONGSIDE THEIR RESCUE WORK. SO HOW EXACTLY DOES KYLE MOORE OF KB AUTO RECOVERY DO IT? AND WHICH OF THE TWO ENVIRONMENTS REALLY POSES THE BIGGEST DANGERS? ON SCENE FINDS OUT.
Given a choice between getting up close to a 350kg brown bear and carrying out a vehicle recovery on the hard shoulder at night, Kyle Moore is absolutely certain of his preference: the KB Auto Recovery co-founder is much more comfortable with one of our grizzly friends. “With bears you can understand their behaviours; whereas humans are the dumbest creatures on earth!” he says.
By way of example, Kyle refers to a recent call-out his brother-in-law and fellow director at the Lowestoft-based recovery firm was tasked with handling. “Brad had a recovery job the other day and another car came past, didn’t look at what he was doing, and he crashed as well.”
You might think this choice between bear and breakdown is rather unusual – and you’d be right. But alongside KB Auto Recovery, Kyle also runs the photographic tour company BearPhoto…
NORTH-WEST RECOVERY FIRM RNW TOWING'S STATE-OF-THE-ART FLEET, HIGHLY TRAINED TEAM AND FOCUS ON PROFESSIONALISM ALL DEMONSTRATE JUST HOW FAR THE ROADSIDE RESCUE SECTOR HAS COME IN RECENT YEARS, AS ON SCENE REPORTS.
New premises, additional team members and a fleet that has more than doubled in the last five years are the very visible outward signs of growth at one of the north-west’s leading recovery companies, RNW Towing. But the real business success is perhaps less noticeable, as the firm continues to lift the recovery sector to new heights of professionalism and expertise.
Formed in the 1970s as Graham’s Recovery by current managing director Stephen Hall’s father Graham, the business merged with Recovery North West 25 years ago, adopting the RNW name. At that time, the firm operated from a single depot with a considerably smaller fleet. Stephen Hall took over operations 17 years ago and, with the help of director Terry Gallimore, has continued to invest and build the company ever since. In 2020, following the pandemic, they decided to restructure and the following year provided the opportunity for the business to refocus and plan for the future.
CHRIS ATKINS HAS BEEN MAKING MODEL TRUCKS FOR 50 YEARS AND HIS CREATIONS ARE AS CLOSE TO THE REAL THING AS AN AMATEUR CAN GET. YET AMAZINGLY, HE CREATES THESE MODELS JUST BY FOLLOWING PICTURES OF THE REAL THINGS. MODEL FAN DAN PARTON FINDS OUT MORE.
Chris Atkins reckons he has made hundreds of truck models in the past 50 years, having started when he was 16 and recently turned 65. “It’s always been a hobby of mine,” he says. “The first model I ever made was the GMC General, a bonneted one from America. I didn’t paint that one; I just stuck the decals on it.” But by then Chris had been bitten by the modelling bug and was hooked. “I’ve just been doing them ever since,” he says.
Over the years, he has built models to a variety of scales. He has albums full of pictures of trucks he made in the 1970s – a range of US and UK models from the time. And he has no plans to stop yet. Indeed his builds are getting more ambitious. Chris’ love for trucks and all things automotive goes back to his childhood. Growing up, he spent time in his dad’s motorcycle business. And since starting work he has always been involved in the truck industry, either driving or as mechanic. When he isn’t at work, though, he spends a lot of his time building models.