Ambulance builder O&H Vehicle Technology has announced a management buy-out (MBO) from current private equity owner Endless LLP by Managing Director, Oliver North, with the support of renowned businessman, Ken Davy. North and Davy are no strangers to the emergency services market, after successfully growing their previous company, fire fighting equipment supplier North Fire, to market leader status prior to major acquisition of the company in 2014.
O&H has been owned by Leeds-based private equity company Endless LLP since 2016. Endless has provided O&H with essential financial support throughout the most challenging phase of the firm’s 32 years, making a significant investment in safeguarding the long-term future of a historic Yorkshire business. In January 2019, Endless appointed Oliver North to lead the business into the next stage of its development.
Now, with every intention to challenge some of the world’s biggest manufacturers in the same field, O&H will do so with significant financial investment behind a tailor-made management team, with Ken Davy assuming the role of Chairman, in support of Managing Director, Oliver North.
Sarah Turvey, winner of Real FD/CBI Excellence Awards’ Young Finance Director of the Year and Yorkshire Finance Director Awards’ Best Finance Director of an SME, has also joined the new board, to drive operational and financial efficiency and sustainability.
Commenting on the deal, Oliver North said, “After being drafted in by Endless at the turn of the year, we knew the company needed new energy, direction and deeper relationships in its key markets. After eight successful months, we’ve seen improvements in all aspects of the company and during this time I’ve grown to admire every facet of it.
“Not only do we employ well over a hundred skilled staff, but we build ambulances, one of the most essential and vital ‘tools’ for serving the public. The pride we feel in seeing O&H ambulances go out of the door is immense, which was one of the key factors in my decision to lead this MBO.”
Ken Davy added, “Oliver has always impressed me with his energy and enthusiasm. When he highlighted this new opportunity for us to work together on the MBO of O&H Vehicle Technology, I jumped at the chance. I am confident that his drive coupled with his absolute commitment to customer service and delivering quality products will enable us to develop O&H Vehicle Technology into a market leading British business.”
Speaking on his proven track record with Ken Davy, Oliver added, “Ken came into my previous company as Chairman and mentored me in aspects of business, which I needed teaching, back in 2011. We became one of the most formidable teams in the emergency vehicle market and achieved some incredible things in partnership. There’s still plenty for me to glean from his world-class pedigree, which will be replicated in the level of quality I want O&H Vehicle Technology to be at.
“O&H Vehicle Technology now has a foundation to stride forward as the standard bearer of UK emergency vehicle manufacturing. I would also like to thank Endless for their support – without their dedication we wouldn’t have the foundation we have today on which we can build as we take the business forward.”
The vast majority of ambulances on Yorkshire’s roads have been manufactured by O&H Vehicle Technology. In 2018, Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) placed a further order for over 300 new units, to modernise its fleet of vehicles and on 13 August the 250th unit was handed over from O&H’s Managing Director, Oliver North, to YAS Chairman, Kathryn Lavery.
During the milestone event, which took place at O&H’s manufacturing facility, Mr North was keen to champion one, key message – the importance of UK ambulances being built in Britain. He used the example of YAS choosing to partner with a UK-based manufacturer, rather than an international supplier. The 18-month contract has contributed a total of £1.77m back into the UK economy, via employee contributions and business tax. It utilised 102,000 skilled labour hours, helping to secure local jobs, and has used a total of 118 local suppliers, providing a further boost to the UK system.
Oliver said, “Before I joined O&H as MD in January, the business was set to reduce its staff levels because of the impact of internationally-built ambulances. With Brexit impending, I knew the time was right to step in and help to grow this magnificent company.
“We are so proud of the level of quality in these ambulances and we chose to host this event, as our way of thanking YAS in an official capacity. We’re now already on the path of an intense period of growth and have all of the essential elements in place for a successful Brexit, which is partly due to YAS’s commitment to working with a UK supplier, whilst in turn, recirculating valuable taxpayers’ contributions.”
YAS receives an average of 2500 emergency and routine calls per day, emphasising the emphatic impact of a modern, efficient fleet on paramedic and patient safety.
Oliver continued, “This is precisely what a positive and fruitful partnership between public and private sector looks like, all in conjunction with the single most important aspect – improving first responder safety in conjunction with casualty care. And the pride every single one of us at O&H feel when we see one of our ambulances responding on the streets of Yorkshire, couldn’t be higher.”