How Volkswagen keeps Ringtons's vans moving

With a 240-strong fleet of Volkswagen Caddys making home deliveries, this specialist tea company needs its vans on the road and working. That’s where Volkswagen comes in...

With a 240-strong fleet of Volkswagen Caddys, specialist team company Ringtons needs its vans on the road and working

Quality tea, coffee and confectionery company Ringtons has been based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ever since it was founded by ambitious entrepreneur Samuel Smith and financier William Titterington in 1907.

Still run by the Smith family (now in its fourth-generation), Ringtons has grown to become a nationwide business with a wholesale division that supplies hotels, restaurants and cafes, and 19 regional sales offices that act as a base for the 240 salespeople who make up to 100 home deliveries each day. 

We caught up with Ringtons’ Operations Manager Stephen Killinger to find out how Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles – and its ‘Working With You’ brand promise – is helping Ringtons keep its fleet of 240 Volkswagen Caddys moving, and its business running smoothly.

What made you pick Volkswagen vans, and how has your relationship evolved?

We started moving our fleet over to Volkswagen about 11 years ago. Over the years, we’ve tried pretty much every van. But, in my opinion, the Volkswagen Caddy is the best-quality in terms of being durable, rugged and dependable. Plus, our salespeople love driving it. Our vans are on a four-year cycle, so we’re now running around 240 Volkswagen Caddys – with around 60 new vans each year. 

How does your relationship with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles work?

Our local Van Centre – Lookers Newcastle – is literally a minute’s drive around the corner, so we have a very close relationship with them. There’s nothing that is too much trouble for those guys, and if there’s any problem they’ll jump in and sort it out. We also need to ensure our service levels are maintained with local dealers across the country, so we talk to Volkswagen Fleet Support a lot for support and advice. 

Running any big fleet has challenges. How does Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles help you? 

One of the strongest parts of our relationship with Volkswagen is the aftersales service. The personal relationship between our salespeople and customers is unique and is key to our business. So, if we do have problems, it’s all about how quickly we can put them right, and how we keep our guys on the road in the interim. 

Our vans have a pretty hard life. Our sales officers often do home deliveries in the suburbs, so they typically cover just 50-60 miles a day, with very little motorway driving. But, as they’re doing around 100 stops, that means the doors open and close 200 times a day, and keys go in and out of the ignition 200 times a day. Luckily, because we have a good relationship with Volkswagen, they know the unique demands we put on our vans, and to look out for that during servicing.

Recently, we’ve started to use Volkswagen’s Mobile Service offering, which has been one of the most exciting developments for us. Volkswagen will send a Mobile Service van to one of our regional offices on a monthly basis, and they’ll fit vehicle inspections around when our salespeople do their morning pickups and meetings. It’s a more pro-active, little-but-often approach – looking for, and identifying, any issues that require a more in-depth service. It works well. 

Does Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles provide other services that help take the pressure off you?

Lookers arrange all of the signwriting for our vans. We also fit a plywood racking system into the back of our Caddys, and they organise the fitting for that. So, our vans will always arrive fully fitted, which means one less thing to worry about.

To find a Volkswagen Van Centre near you, click here.

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