The year of 1998 saw the launch of Google, the UK hosted the Eurovision song contest, Arsenal won the Premiership, and Cher was the longest running UK number 1 with the single “Believe”. Volkswagen also launched the very first city car – the Lupo, the iconic new Beetle and the Bora.
The biggest news of 1998 for Durham though was the launch of Pulman Volkswagen. The Pulman story started in a pop-up showroom whilst the showroom you see today was being built, starting with just 17 employees. A few of those employees are still there today, 20 years later, which is a fantastic achievement.
Ian Buckle the Managing Director of Pulman Group comments, “This year we are celebrating 20 years of serving our customers in Durham and I’m proud to have been part of the journey from the beginning. What is it that makes us different from other car retailers? It is the fact that we are one big Pulman family. We give our amazing employees the chance to grow and develop and deliver that fantastic customer experience that is at the heart of what we do.”
You might have spoken to Jan Dodds, Contact Centre Advisor when booking in a service, MOT or repair. Jan said: “What I’ve enjoyed the most about working at Pulman over the last 20 years is meeting all the fantastic people, working as part of a team and watching Pulman grow.”
This is a familiar story for Andy Foster and Keith Ramshaw. Andy began his career as a Valeterand is now the Pulman Group Parts Manager. Keith started in Parts and is now the Volkswagen Group Sales Manager. Keith comments: “I’m proud to be part of the Pulman family for over 20 years, helping to shape and work with an award-winning sales team.”
George Kenny, has been right through the Volkswagen Technician training and is now a Master Technician for Volkswagen Group. George said: “The training and development programme is fantastic, and I am thankful for the support I have had over the years.”
The stories don’t just stop there, as there are many individuals that have begun a career at Pulman and are still there today. Pulman’s motto is putting people at the heart of everything they do, from ensuring a fantastic customer experience, to supporting and building employee loyalty. Over the last 20 years over 33,000 customers have purchased their car from Pulman, with customers returning to Pulman for their future cars.
(From left to right: Andy Foster (Parts Manager), Ian Buckle (MD), Jan Dodds (Contact Centre Advisor), George Kenny (Master Technician) and Keith Ramshaw (Volkswagen Group Sales Manager)
A lot has happened since Mike Pulman opened his first Durham Volkswagen showroom 20 years ago. In 2000 Pulman moved to their prime location – Abbey Road – where head office now employs over 80 members of staff. From humble beginnings, this flagship site was the first retailer in the UK to have a café located in their showroom. Refurbished in 2015, Pulman Volkswagen Durham is now a digital showroom, complete with car configurator to create the Pulman seamless customer experience.
Pulman opened a second Volkswagen showroom located on Newcastle Road, Sunderland in2008, which later expanded to become a SKODA authorised service repairer in 2014. Pulman are uniquely the only family-run Volkswagen retailer in the North East. Launching their SEAT showroom in Sunderland in August 2010 with the same family orientated attitude. Formerly known as Alexandra Bridge Cars – one of the oldest SEAT dealers in the country – they are among the handful of dealerships that helped launch SEAT UK a quarter of a century ago. Not to be overshadowed by the Volkswagen sites, Pulman SEAT has won a host of awards for their customer service including winning ‘Dealer of the year’ in 2011 & 2012, Motorcodes ‘Best Garage for the North East’ and more recently ‘Top Customer Satisfaction Performance Award’ in 2017.
More recently, Pulman opened their first SKODA site in Durham in 2014. This was relocated to a purpose-built showroom in Belmont Industrial Estate two years later. This state-of-the-art showroom represents a £3 million investment, its home to the fantastic Café Dafté, and a Pilates studio for both customer and employees to use. Pulman SKODA welcomed Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle servicing at this site in 2016 and is now fully equipped with state of the art diagnostic equipment and experienced Volkswagen Group Trained Technicians.
Ian Buckle continues: “Everything we do is about people. It’s about empowering and supporting our employees to be the best they can be whilst delivering that fantastic customer experience. I would like to say a big thank you to all our fantastic customers, amazing employees and everyone who has supported us for the last 20 years we're looking forward to the next 20 years.”