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Sadness And Job Losses As Well Known Vehicle Recovery Firm Stops Operating

Published on: 12 Jul, 2013
Updated on: 12 Jul, 2013

A well-known and respected vehicle recovery firm with strong Guildford links has ceased trading, with the loss of up to 40 jobs.

The now closed McAllisters depot at the Midleton Industrial Estate in Guildford.

The now closed McAllisters depot at the Midleton Industrial Estate in Guildford.

McAllisters Recovery, that had depots at Guildford’s Midleton Road Industrial estate, as well as at Chobham and Leatherhead, says it had no option but to close for business on July 3.

Its managing director Mark McAllister, whose father founded the firm in 1974, is deeply sad at the circumstances over the decision to close the business that he cites as being due to “overheads associated with an unviable public sector contract”.

It means that four members of the McAllisters family will also lose their jobs from the firm that was operating 42 recovery vehicles.

McAllisters’ large recovery vehicles have been a common sight for many years in the area, removing vehicles large and small, broken down or in accidents from Surrey’s roads.

Mark Said: “We have had a faithful team working with us, committed and well trained. The best you could ask for. They are all great guys and that is the saddest part.

“We have taken great pride in our work. I have to say that I do wonder what the impact will be for road users. I hope it will not be as bad as I fear.”

McAllisters Recovery was formed in 1974 by husband and wife team Frank and Lesley McAllister as one of the first stand-alone vehicle rescue and recovery companies in the UK. Prior to that most vehicle recovery was carried out by a local garage or bodyshop with a tow truck.

McAllisters was at the leading edge of a new breed of vehicle rescue and recovery company specialising in 24-hour a day rapid response to any situation.

The company quickly grew from humble beginnings in the Aldershot area and became a leading provider of specialist vehicle recovery services across the south, particularly in Surrey and Hampshire.

The day-to-day business was rescuing stranded vehicles and either getting them running or towing them to their destination, which could be all over the country.

The company continued to grow and develop, in particular in the very niche specialist field of heavy recovery, which is for vehicles above 3.5 tonne in weight (trucks, buses, coaches etc).

The company developed a fantastic reputation as a “can do” problem solver of any situation involving large goods vehicles.

In 2001, eldest son Mark McAllister took the helm as managing partner and the company incorporated as McAllisters Recovery Ltd in July 2007.

The McAllisters depot at Chobham that is also now closed.

The McAllisters depot at Chobham that is also now closed.

More recently the company occupied numerous premises including Guildford, Peasmarsh, Send, Chobham and Leatherhead.

McAllisters had been a leading light in the close knit vehicle rescue and recovery industry. In the days before the hydraulic cutting equipment now common place in the fire service, McAllisters’ vehicles were often called by the fire service to vehicle accidents to help winch vehicles apart to rescue those trapped inside. This led to the creation in 2012 of the Heavy Rescue Partnership with Surrey Fire & Rescue. McAllisters provided a free of charge service to deploy trucks and manpower to any rescue scene where it could assist colleagues at Surrey Fire & Rescue to save lives or offer specialist support to a complex scene.

Most recently, this scheme’s importance was highlighted at an incident on the A3 at Hindhead, where several coach passengers lost their lives. The McAllisters team was called by the fire service to provide heavy winching and technical expertise over a nearly 24-hour period The team assisted with the careful extrication of the vehicle from the tree with which it had collided and with great care and dignity for those involved, allowed the emergency services access to those trapped within.

In recent years, Mark and his team have been avid social media users, sending regular tweets and Facebook updates on the incidents they handle.

Mark McAllister said the idea behind the social media was to provide road users of Surrey the latest up-to-the-second updates of whichever serious incident the company was handling and trying to reopen the roads as quickly as possible.

McAllisters’ updates, showing various techniques for rapid scene clearance of the most weird and wonderful vehicles and scenarios, showed the mantra that ran through the business – “If it goes on the road, it can go wrong on the road, so be prepared.”

Mark said that a senior police officer once remarked to him: “To the county of Surrey McAllisters is its cheapest insurance policy”.

In a statement yesterday (July 11), Surrey Police said: “Surrey Police has had a long working relationship with McAllisters which is one of several vehicle recovery contractors used by the force.

“We will continue to utilise the other vehicle recovery contractors on our current scheme to deal with demand using the same rotational call-out system. We currently have six other providers for light vehicle recovery, three of which also provide heavy vehicle recovery.

“The level of service and response times will be monitored and should any additional service providers be required they will be sourced through our standard procurement process.”


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Responses to Sadness And Job Losses As Well Known Vehicle Recovery Firm Stops Operating

  1. Colette Oddy Reply

    July 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    This is such a sad state of affairs, Mcallister’s have been to my rescue on a couple of occasions and they are absolutely brilliant/ I hope they all find other jobs I also work in Midleton Road and it will be so strange not seeing one of their vehicles parked up. Good Luck to you all.

  2. Rick howard Reply

    July 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    As an ex employee of McAllisters (company supervisor) in the early 1990s, it saddens me to hear that McAllisters are no longer trading. I wish the family and the workforce all the best for the future.

  3. Michael Bentley Reply

    June 25, 2014 at 5:37 am

    I also worked for McAllisters Recovery, in the 1990’s but only for a short time. I know the pressure all the staff were under while working, although they all made the job seem so easy. I hope they all find work.

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