Bence are one of Europe’s leading specialist vehicle manufacturers, creating mobile spaces for a range of sectors. Our history as a specialist coachbuilder dates back to the early 1900s, with our roots firmly planted in Yate, just north of Bristol. Focused on build quality and in-house expertise we’ve seen significant growth in size and reputation in recent years, with Bence processes continuing to exceed industry standards.
A growing history
WH Bence Ltd has enjoyed rapid growth since its foundation in 1982.
When three of the region’s specialist vehicle companies went into receivership, putting James Brown out of work, he decided to launch his own company. Using an old coach painting shop, a bank loan, six coachbuilders and two painters, WH Bence Ltd was born.
The Bence site includes three build bays and a paint bay. A new wooden shed becomes the stores, with a Portakabin for offices. Expansion is rapid. More of the Longwell Green site becomes available, so we move our paintshop and add more building bays.
Space is again at a premium so James purchases a site close by at Armstrong Way. It’s a family affair, with his brother building the new factory on the site which opened on 4 July 1988. It’s a remarkable day as the new workshop seemed absolutely enormous, which of course it is, being three times the size of our original unit.
Bence build a new paint preparation and spray shop facility on the Armstrong Way site. This includes a low bake oven with the latest paint extraction system, high tech air-powered wall mounted gantries for our sprayers to move easily across the vehicles, and a preparation bay with the latest dust extraction equipment.
Bence employs a team of around 60 full-time staff – some of whom have been with us for more than 20 years. With contracts rolling in from the medical, motorsport and emergency services sectors, the company’s future looks bright.
- Edward Brown
- Assistant Production Manager
With Bence in his blood, Edward could from an early age be found at the company, either having a go at fabrication or spraying vehicles in our paint shop.
In 2007 Edward officially joined Bence part time in the design team whilst attending University, helping with the production of manuals and the design stages on the vehicles.
Moving on from the degree in Quantity Surveying, Edward started in the post of Assistant Production Manager, supervising the workshop and overseeing the production of vehicles.
Recently Edward has been instrumental in the programming of IFM systems on the Bence range of Type B Fire Appliances. He enjoys the challenge of working on the production of a wide and ever-evolving range of front line Emergency Services vehicles.
- Jeff Trought
- Production Manager
Officially Bence’s Production Manager, but also our resident ‘agony aunt’ and troubleshooter – somebody that can make quick decisions when things don’t go quite according to plan.
Jeff began his career in the coach building industry as soon as he left school in 1968, completing his 5-year apprenticeship in 1973. He’s been building bespoke vehicles pretty much non-stop since then, with a couple of career breaks to spend a few years as a carpenter and a few more working with a company making stretched limos. Jeff first joined the Bence team in 1988 and was appointed Production Manager in 2004.
- Jason Perkins
- Senior Design Engineer
Jason joined the company after having spent over eight years in the leisure vehicle business. He’s highly skilled in 2D and 3D CAD, CADCAM and CNC programming and won the City and Guilds Medal for Excellence for 3D CAD design in 2005. He began his career as an apprentice model/pattern maker in 1988, working on various aircraft and military projects. He later moved into the vacuum forming business, creating forming for various aircraft and automotive companies and sparking his interest in CNC machining. Jason’s next move was to Britain’s largest caravan and Motorhome Company as a design engineer.
When not designing Jason is an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader and Membership Secretary with his local scouting troop, part of his local school’s fundraising committee and their website manager.
- James Brown
- Managing Director
In 1982 James was an expert coachbuilder working for one of the South West’s leading specialist vehicle companies. When the company went into receivership, putting James out of work, he decided to launch his own company. Using the 6000sq ft coach painting shop of the former Longwell Green Coachworks, a loan from Barclays Bank, six coachbuilders and two painters, James went into business and WH Bence was born.
Since then, James has grown the company into one of Europe’s leading specialist vehicle manufacturers, with its own fabrication and maintenance sites. WH Bence prides itself on being a family-run company, with James’ wife Sue, and sons Oliver and Edward taking on key roles in the organisation.
- Martin Smith
- Service Manager
Martin has been with Bence since 2005, starting as a Service Engineer for the company, travelling across the UK, Ireland and Europe to service and maintain our vehicles. He’s been our Service Manager since May 2012. As Bence Service Manager he’s responsible for all after-sales queries, from warranty repairs to breakdown call-outs. He manages a team of service engineers and drivers, and organises all departmental operations.
Martin has been working as a commercial mechanic since he left school in 1987, serving an apprenticeship with British Road Services, based in Bristol, where he gained City & Guilds UEI National Craft Certification. Outside work he’s a British Army reservist, having served for 13 years and acquired his Advanced Level Physical Training Instructor qualification.
- Mark Watts
- Purchasing Manager
Mark joined us in November 2001 as a Stores Assistant. His dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed, and within a year Mark moved up the ladder into the Stores Manager role.
Mark quickly developed a reputation for running a tight ship ensuring all materials were available when they were needed.
After 11 years as Stores Manager, Mark moved up to his current position as Purchasing Manager. Into this role has brought with him his dedicated and diligent attitude helping us to improve our procurement procedures. With a quick smile and quicker wit, Mark is always at hand to make sure that the procurement team work together efficiently to provide us with an ever improving integral service.
- Lucasz Klimonczyk
- Design Engineer
Lucasz joined us in May 2009 from Poland as part of our procurement team. Since then, Lucasz rose rapidly through the ranks moving into the coach building team, and finally finding his current position in February 2013 as our new Design Engineer.
Lucasz’s natural flair for languages has been invaluable to the Bence team, and has assisted the Company with forging long-lasting relationships with companies overseas.
Lucasz has proved himself to be a real asset to the design team and he looks forward to a long future with WH Bence.
- Keith Barton
- Sales Manager, Special Vehicles and Fire
Keith was appointed Sales Manager, Special Vehicles and Fire in 2010. He has worked within the Fire section of the bodybuilding industry for 36 years – back in the days when fire engines were made of wood! Keith has worked for other major fire vehicle manufacturers throughout the country.
The Company was looking to expand their product range to include frontline fire fighting appliances, and the appointment of Keith was instrumental to this goal. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength in this industry, producing front line fire appliances for both the UK and overseas market.
- Jessica Aston
- Finance Assistant
Jess joined WH Bence in August 2012 after completing the AAT qualification in Accounting.
Leaving school with a career in Early Years in mind, Jess completed all the relevant qualifications to do just that. However, whilst working as a nanny (and despite never particularly liking Maths in school) Jess picked up a part time job working for her Father’s company as a bookkeeper. What was initially intended as a temporary stand-in role became permanent and the AAT course followed.
With a new found interest and qualifications in Accounting, Jess started working in the office at Bence and now performs a variety of roles in the Finance Dept.
- Sue Brown
- Company Secretary
Having started my career as a Pharmacist it was quite a dramatic change to move over to the world of vehicle production!
I came to Bence to be part of my own business and to work alongside my family. I re-trained in Finance and accounting and I am currently in charge of the purse strings (much to everyone’s annoyance!) as the Company Secretary. I enjoy being a key part of business working alongside my family to look at new ways to improve the business we love.
The change over the last 18 months in the company’s carbon footprint with a reduction in waste and recycling of materials has really made me feel we are working hard to do our bit. We are looking to the future of the business and investing in the latest technology to provide us green energy for the business, which will help to sustain us going forward.
- Oliver Brown
- Sales Director
W H Bence was founded the year I was born so I think this business has always been in my blood. I love the excitement of the ever changing work, from the design of the new version of the mini fire appliance to creating a mobile hospitality space.
I enjoyed an adventurous early career working as a sailing instructor at both the UK Sailing Academy in Cowes and ICC in Salcombe, Devon. Having completed my Degree at Loughborough University I moved over to run the Events Department for W H Bence.
I became Sales Director five years ago, and we have had a great few years with the introduction of the Front Line Appliance to our product range.
I look forward to a great future!
- Rachel Murphy
- PA to the Directors
Rachel has been with us since February 2011, and her principal (and most important) role is making sure James (Managing Director), Oliver (Sales Director) and Keith (Sales Manager) are in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people with the right paperwork!
Rachel has a degree in English and Psychology and began her career with the BBC in the South West as a Broadcast Assistant. She progressed from printing scripts and making tea to assisting the journalists with writing copy for the BBC Spotlight programme and being PA to the news editor. She then worked at BBC Television Centre for five years for Ceefax before taking a career break to have children.
Rachel moved back to the area in 2007 and undertook a variety of PA roles for companies including Orange and Barclays Bank and and then found her feet at Bence!
- Tracy Martin
- Office Administrator
Tracy is the newest member of the WH Bence office team, coming to us in January 2014.
Bence have built their reputation on designing and manufacturing specialist vehicles and trailers to the very highest standards. To do this, we employ the most skilled workforces in the coachbuilding industry.
Interested? Drop us an email at email@example.com or call us at +44 1454 310 909
Salary : £12-£13/per hour
Location: Yate, Bristol
Job Type : Permanent
Due to expansion, we are looking to employ an experienced Auto Electrician at our purpose-built factory.
The post is full time and includes the opportunity to work overtime as part of an established team. The successful applicant will be time served and capable of working on a wide variety of specialist vehicles and trailers.
To apply, please send your CV and a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
NO AGENCIES PLEASE.