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Kate Manners celebrates 25 years in the driving seat at DMG

It’s a special anniversary for Kate Manners at David Manners Group as she celebrates 25 years working for the Classic Car Spares family business this year.

David Manners Group comprises of four of the most established market leaders in the car parts industry, supplying parts for modern and classic Jaguar & Daimler, MG & Triumph, Mazda MX-5, Classic Mini and Morris Minor cars, and for 25 years Kate has been at the heart of the action!

To mark this milestone, Kate tells us more about her journey at David Manners Group, the changes she has implemented, the highlights of her career and the trials and tribulations of running a family business.

Kate performed most of the jobs at the Oldbury based car parts family business, before being appointed Managing Director in 2011 and she has witnessed many changes. Initially the business consisted of just David Manners Jaguar parts and it now consists of five different brands all under one roof. Kate also saw orders change from phone and letter to more modern methods including emails, online ordering and eBay.

Since becoming Managing Director, Kate has overseen many pivotal changes in the operation. She created DMG, a more cohesive group for the four companies and what was originally a small management group consisting of Kate and two managers is now a management team of six, 3 team leaders and a warehouse coordinator.

Kate introduced staff wellbeing packages including a welfare allowance, the All About Me program and Birthday days off. Most recently Kate has introduced a health and wellbeing website designed exclusively for staff members to share experiences, ideas and healthy hints and tips. Kate keenly supports the work/life balance of her staff and encourages them to spend time with their families. Employees used to work 6 days a week, bank holidays and throughout Christmas. Kate has now extended midweek opening hours so that staff can have the weekend off to relax and they also enjoy a full Christmas and New Year break.

Kate is an advocate for supporting the community and local charities working closely with such organisations as Primrose Hospice, the Stroke Association and Black Country Women’s Aid, where she really strives to use her position within the company to make a positive difference to the lives of others.

Kate is extremely proud of the companies achievements, in recent years DMG has been recognised with the Corporate Social Responsibility and Employer of the Year awards at the Midlands Family Business Awards and also the New Employer of the Year award at the Sandwell Business Awards. Kate is also very proud of her father, David Manners who was made an honorary Freeman of Sandwell last year in recognition of his work in the borough. Kate explains she gets great satisfaction from seeing her staff who started at DMG as youngsters in their 20’s and now have their own families and are developing their careers in the company. 

Would Kate recommend working for a family business? She explained that there are many benefits as it is so much easier to balance work and family but it is not for the faint-hearted! She is able to work from home when needed and does not have to struggle with child care in the school holidays but you never really stop working! The only time Kate switches off is during Christmas as there is no one at work to worry about. 

We asked Kate what she would be doing now if she was not Managing Director at DMG’ “I really don’t know, I’m probably totally unemployable!" (she laughs). Kate wanted to join the police when at school, but nowadays if she was to do anything else it probably wouldn't be a management role. Something stress-free where Kate can go home at night and not worry about work that is someone else’s job.

Kate is pictured with Sales Manager, Simon Oughtibridge who has been working for the family since he was 17. Firstly with David Manners on the dry cleaning rounds at Elizabeth Manners before David dedicated all of his time to selling car parts. He was then the first official David Manners employee working with David selling car parts. In those days the company was run from Kate’s childhood home and as a result Kate has known Simon for 40 years and they are more like siblings than colleagues. Their first meeting was when Simon aged 15 made Kate and her younger sister a grass skirt made from till rolls!

“Poor Simon" laughs Kate “my sister and I used to wind him up all the time. I think it was a great relief to him when the business moved to Wolverhampton Road. Equally it was probably a huge shock when I joined the business but I’m hopefully not quite as irritating to him as I used to be!  I do however feel lucky to work with one of my best friends and value the time we spend together. We’ve know each other so long we even call each other Homer and Marge! (She howls!) “He’ll kill me for telling you that !”

We wish Kate a very happy anniversary leading the classic car parts company and here’s to the next 25 years!

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David Manners Ltd | 991 Wolverhampton Road | Oldbury | West Midlands | B69 4RJ