Body & Soul AutoWorks: Gerard Bermingham

Too much of a free spirit to remain employed, Gerard Bermingham’s start-up has allowed him to leave 'coporate hell' behind and return to his true passion

Name: Gerard Bermingham
Age: 40
Company Name: Body & Soul AutoWorks
Staff numbers: 1
Location: Wales
Date Launched: 01/11/2013

Tell us what your business does:

We are a classic and custom vehicle workshop specialising in the restoration, service and repair of many varying vehicles. Fully equipped, including a low bake oven, our vision is to offer a one-stop-shop for all things automotive (the body AND the soul if you will). We are also opening an onsite coffee shop which is styled along the lines of a 50’s diner where petrol heads can come together and chat carburettor sizes over a latte.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I used to have an independent VW specialist workshop which I gave up in order to get a mortgage when my daughter was born.

This is my return to what is my passion, and a reason to get up every morning rather than being stuck in corporate hell (my previous job!).

How did you know there was a market for it?

Plenty of market research – I have had my finger on the pause button until the right conditions existed. In 2013 those conditions suddenly showed themselves and I jumped right in.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was an operations manager for a national company but I didn’t enjoy working in the corporate world.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes. I am, essentially, unemployable. I’m too much of a free spirit.

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How did you raise the money?

Savings and a personal loan. Unfortunately I was turned down by finance Wales as I didn’t meet their criteria.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

We had to move out of our unit in July due to fire damage in a neighbouring unit, and the subsequent re-cladding of the entire row. This meant that our initial start date of August had to be put back to November, despite having full order books.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Long term restorations alongside the daily servicing, repair and accident damage jobs. We are heavily involved in the classic car scene, locally and further afield so we have no shortage of contacts or customers.

A good job done also ends in multiple recommendations.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Old customers contacting me on Facebook asking whether I knew of any one who did this kind of work these days. Not only did this provide my first few jobs, it also affirmed to me that there was a local gap in the market.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself and ignore the negativity you will encounter. If you’ve done your research and are genuinely good at what you do, you can make it.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Bigger and better!


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