Mercedes-Benz Vans has honoured its Heroes of 2020, the hard-working people from across its Dealer network who have pulled out all the stops to keep customers moving during the pandemic.
In a year like no other, the manufacturer and its franchised partners have been in the forefront of the battle to support the emergency services and key business sectors such as egrocery and parcel deliveries.
Launched in 2017, the Mercedes-Benz Van Stars Awards highlight the dedication and hard work of the 4,000-plus colleagues involved in every aspect of the business, so including those in vehicle maintenance and repair, parts and backroom administration roles, as well as sales.
While the usual glamorous celebration was clearly a non-starter, Mercedes-Benz Vans was determined that current restrictions would not prevent it from highlighting the achievements of those who have ‘gone the extra mile’ for their customers and communities in 2020.
With the support of Gloucester-based employee engagement specialist River, a long-standing supplier to the brand, it therefore staged a virtual Van Stars Heroes awards event that was hugely motivational and enjoyed by members of the Mercedes-Benz Vans ‘family’ based at Dealerships throughout the UK.
Broadcast live from a studio in Salford, the event was brilliantly hosted, as in each of the last four years, by sport and music radio and TV presenter Colin Murray. Sharing the stage with him – but appropriately distanced – was Mercedes-Benz Vans Managing Director Steve Bridge, who bows out in January after 20 years with the company to take the helm at new Dealer eStar Truck & Van. “Next year, when we’re hopefully back to a live ceremony, I’d like to think I’ll be winning the trophies, not giving them,” joked Steve.
He continued: “The pandemic has presented a huge challenge for all of us, and tonight is all about thanking those heroes who have helped us get through it. We’re here to keep businesses moving, and the way we’ve supported our customer base through this crisis, during which 97% of our network remained open, has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Among those singled out for awards recognition were Gary Hawkins and Joe Toplis, both members of the Parts team at South Wales Dealer Euro Commercials. Gary took the Stronger Together prize after spotting another Dealer’s late Friday night ‘shout out’ for help on the Van Stars platform and coming to its aid with urgently needed ambulance parts and technical advice. Joe, meanwhile, received a Community Hero trophy for his efforts in collecting warm clothing and bedding on behalf of the homeless.
The Customer Dedication – National Fleet honours went to Carl Molineux, a General After Sales Manager at eStar Truck & Van, who received a glowing testimonial from customer Yodel for arranging the urgent repair of a number of its vehicles. And mobile technician Matt Osborn, of Rygor Commercials, won the Managing Director’s Special Recognition Award for creating a makeshift bed in his van so he could remain on site and be instantly available to his hard-pressed customer when needed. As a reward for his commitment, Mercedes-Benz Vans will be providing Matthew with a new vehicle with special bed conversion.
As well as keeping some 1,900 Sprinter-based front-line ambulances on the road this year, Mercedes-Benz has supported supermarkets running a combined fleet of 14,000 Sprinters and ensured that parcels delivery operators could meet unprecedented growth in demand. No less importantly, many small businesses have also been helped to survive and, in many cases, thrive by Mercedes-Benz Vans and its Dealers.
“We are professionals and in recognition of the crucial importance of the transport sector were categorised by the Government as key workers,” continued Steve. “Indeed, you could even describe us as the fourth emergency service. Most companies will tell you the customer is at the centre of all they do, but Van Stars shines a light on those who really live by that commitment, day in day out. It’s a great privilege to honour our heroes of 2020.”
The full list of winners was:
Community Hero: Joe Toplis, Euro Commercials
Unsung Hero: Kate Ruberry-Shoemack, Rygor
Van Stars Champion: Lee Haworth, Ciceley Commercials
Stronger Together: Gary Hawkins, Euro Commercials
Customer Dedication – National Fleet: Carl Molineux, eStar Truck & Van
Customer Dedication – Independent Retail: Miles Tremlett, Intercounty Truck & Van
Team 2020: Motus (Orwell Truck & Van/S & B Commercials)
Managing Director’s Special Recognition: Matt Osborn, Rygor Commercials