Firm bought for £1 achieves £6m turnover

Cathal Doocey of CPD Bodies, Bousfield Lane, Stockton. Picture by Doug Moody.
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Cathal Doocey of CPD Bodies, Bousfield Lane, Stockton 09/6/15 Picture by Doug Moody Photography
Cathal Doocey of CPD Bodies, Bousfield Lane, Stockton

A commercial vehicle body builder set up when it bought a failing Teesside firm for just £1 six years ago is set to achieve a £6 million turnover – and recruit more than 30 new staff.

Stockton-based CPD Bodies recently clinched a new £1 million six-month deal to provide self-built vehicle bodies for Luton vans, tippers and dropside trucks from its own self-built Praevia range to commercial vehicle rental giant, the United Rental Group.

Specialising in building premium quality truck and van bodies, the latest success means CPD will have trebled its turnover in just two years as the firm continues its rapid expansion.

CPD Bodies launched in 2009 when owner Cathal Doocey bought out a failing business for a nominal sum of £1, inheriting the existing plant, machinery and just one member of staff.

But, having recruited 25 new staff in the past 12 months, the thriving business now employs a team of 72 – with expansion plans meaning that figure could top 100 over the next four months.

Under the guidance of managing director Doocey, CPD’s team of time-served welders, mechanics and design experts have manufactured 2,000 commercial vehicle bodies over the past 12 months, supplying them to major customers across the UK and Ireland.

With orders “flying in” from existing customers and new business being won by the day, that figure is set to increase to 3,500 over the next 12 months.

Now the business is building new workshops and office space to meet the ever-increasing demand, with Doocey looking to add level 2 welders and auto electricians to his fast-expanding team that also includes 12 apprentices.

“I don’t usually set targets,” said 31-year-old Doocey, who launched the business when he was just 25 years of age.

“But I want CPD to be the biggest and best commercial vehicle body builder in the UK.

“I don’t know what that is in monetary value but I want people in the industry to automatically think CPD Bodies.

“I’m not one to stop and think about our incredible growth but people are saying that to me a lot more lately. I don’t know how to take it. I can see it’s going well, of course, but all I’m focused on is what we’re going to do next.

“We’ve come this far so quickly via a commitment to going the extra mile. It’s our service offering that’s made us stand out from the crowd.

“In an industry where too often the body builder dictates the delivery times, what we deliver is in the timescale the customer requires. If you need it for that date then that’s when you’ll get it.

“We’ve grown the business by being honest and doing what we say we’re going to do, ensuring we give top quality every time.”

From its base on Bowesfield Lane in Stockton, the firm’s biggest customers include North-East neighbours Northgate Vehicle Hire and national vehicle hire firms SHB, Dawson and United, while CPD also manufacture commercial vehicle bodies for Mercedes and Ford.

Last year CPD launched its own vehicle body range, Praevia – a Latin word that translates to leading the way – developed by the firm’s in-house specialists.

“We developed our own range to safeguard the business,” explained Doocey.

“As well as boasting market-leading payloads, the range is lighter, more robust and cheaper than established alternatives. We saw the gap in the market and it’s already proving a massive success.”

Doocey, whose previous business experience came through his father Charlie’s civil engineering firm, Doocey North East Ltd, is understandably proud of CPD Bodies’ rapid rise.

But, having recently given 12 apprentice welders full-time contracts, it is the job creation that gives him most satisfaction.

“I was delighted when we achieved a £300,000 turnover in our first year in operation. Now we’re doing £120,000 a week – that’s £5.76 million in the last year, up from £3.4 million last year and £2m the year before.

“The best thing about it is we’re giving employment to local people. For me, as a proud Teessider, that’s the best thing about running the business. Hopefully we can recruit many more in the future.”


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