UK regional Merlo dealer CJ Saunders - which covers Devon and the Southwest - has been acquired from owner and managing director Louise Winsor by service manager Tom Banbury, and will now trade as South West Handling.
The business, based in Whiddon Down between Oakhampton and Exeter on the north side of Dartmoor, was established in 1900 by Winsor’s great great grandfather as a workshop to repair local farm machinery. South West Handling was set up to handle the Merlo telehandler distribution 28 years ago.
Winsor said: “Due to having no natural successor to take over the business from myself Tom was the natural choice. Tom first started his career with us as an apprentice, attending Warwick College and completing his studies with a distinction. Tom firmly established himself in the business and became an important part of our service team. As the Merlo business grew in strength and numbers, Tom took on the role as head Merlo technician specialising in electrics and Roto models. He continued to progress over the years with the business and took on the mantle of service manager in more recent years. Due to tractor manufacturer policy changes C J Saunders lost its tractor franchise, so South West Handling activities have become the mainstay of the business and the trading name we associate with the Merlo Brand. I wish all the very best to Tom and his new venture in the industry.”
Merlo UK national sales manager Owen Buttle, added: “I would like to thank Louise for her hard work and commitment to the Merlo brand over the last 28 years and I’m pleased that her expertise and vast knowledge of the products have been retained with her new role as sales manager. After many months of planning, I’m very excited to be working with Tom and his team under the South West Handling trading name, securing the long term future of sales and aftermarket care is essential to our customer base, Tom and his team of ex CJ Saunders staff bring decades of experience in all area’s whether it be parts, sales or service.”