The benefits of a dust-free workshop


Scratches, scuffs and dents are all part of the life cycle of vehicles out on the road and these minor imperfections are the bread and butter for repair shops around the UK. We sat down with Jason Barker, managing director of Cars of Grimsby, to discuss how the right tools can make dust disappear and assist with a business’ expansion plans.

“As a business, we are totally independent and as a result we work on all brands and models, so our work varies from day to day. This led us down the path of bringing together a workforce and tools that complement each other by being versatile enough to handle any situation put in front of them. When we started trading in August 2012, I would class us as a small business as we had three members of staff and a portfolio of trade customers we worked with.  As the MD, I like to challenge my team and the way I looked to do this was by expanding our Rolodex of customers, which led to the large database of customers that we now do work for on a regular basis. With this expansion, we not only grew our workforce to 11 people but also moved to a 5300 square foot site that I like to describe as the “workshop of our dreams” and made a significant investment in new tools.

With this expansion, one of the things we knew we had to deal with was the amount of dust that was going to be produced during the work, so we wanted to tackle it head on. When we were developing the plans, we knew that dust extraction was going to be an important asset to the business, but it had to be right. We did consider a static dust extraction system with permanent work bay service pods. However, this idea was quickly thrown out of the window once I was introduced to Mirka’s range of tools and abrasives at a demonstration day with one of its representatives. The fact that I was able to use the tools myself allowed me to understand first-hand the benefits they could offer the business as whole and on an individual level as well.

Instead of the static system, we decided that the extraction system Mirka offers, which we use with its sanders for panel preparation, was the right choice.  When you first get to use it, the thing that you realise is that it punches well above its weight, as the suction it can produce ensures there is no dust in the work area. This, in turn, means that I can protect the health of my workers because they have a dust-free environment to work in, while our customers don’t have to worry about it when they come on site. In addition, the extraction system has an added benefit of being versatile enough to double up as a tool trolley for a more efficient use of the workshop floor.

Of the 11 employees, eight of them use the Mirka tools, and as business, we have spent around £8,000 on Mirka sanders, dust extractors and abrasives. This may seem a lot for what could be deemed as a ‘small’ business, but I can honestly say that the tools make even the hardest job easy, which makes them worth their weight in gold. What we have found is that they have saved us money by reducing our abrasive costs by 40% and time by reducing our compressor running hours by 11 per week. These monetary and time savings have allowed us to invest in other areas of the business to assist in our continued growth and focus our next big push, which is our work towards a BSI Kite Mark that will enable the business to take the next step towards further business expansion.”