Temsa/Ilesbus Coachfest show success

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The Leeds Rhinos team coach is a Temsa HD12 RHD converted to team specification by AD Systems. SARAH TAYLOR

Jonathan Taylor reports from the recent ‘Coachfest’ event held at Temsa’s Cleckheaton dealership

This industry is well known for its charitable efforts above and beyond narrow industry-related causes. So it was great to be driving up from Wiltshire to Yorkshire on 23 August to visit the almost pop-up two-day Coachfest industry show in aid of motor neurone disease and put on by the combined resources of Temsa and Islesbus at Temsa UK’s Lodge Garage, Gomersal HQ.

Of course the day started sunny in Wiltshire where I live (as it always does!), but driving up the M5/M6 the sky became overcast and the rain started to fall somewhere around Manchester. Magically, after turning right onto the M62, the weather brightened for the drive up and across the Pennines. It had been a very early morning start with the alarm going off at 0400hrs, but I arrived at the Temsa premises in Cleckheaton just on time for the 1000hrs opening and immediately met the friendly figure of Mike Beagrie from Close Brothers Vehicle Hire walking back to his car to collect some extra stand items.

That was the theme for the day; everyone I met was friendly and relaxed. The whole event was quite a contrast to the more formal industry events held at the NEC. So here is my friendly and relaxed review of the 2023 Coachfest show.

First port of call after passing the busy welcome trailer was to find Paul Gardner (Regional Sales Manager at Temsa) and donate a prize of three fine wines and a CBW one-year subscription to the show raffle in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association supported by Rob Burrow, the former Rugby League player.


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Modern and classic coaches were on display. SARAH TAYLOR

Charity support

Rob contracted motor neurone disease in 2019 two years after finishing his entire professional rugby league career with Leeds Rhinos. He was awarded an MBE in 2020 for his services to Rugby League and the motor neurone disease community. Although known as ‘the smallest player in Superleague’ he was one of the most successful players in the Superleague’s history winning eight championships, two challenge cups and being named in the Superleague dream team on three occasions as well as playing for England and Great Britain.

Now here’s the connection. The magnificent Leeds Rhinos team coach is a Temsa HD12 operated by Fourways Coaches, which is also based at Lodge Garage. It has the usual luxury team coach extras of spacious leather seating, a WC, catering facilities and table seating arrangements with cup holders. Converted to team specification by AD Systems, it also has USB connection points at all seats and multiple TV monitors with Sky TV.

Leeds Rhinos provided a current player, a youth team player and the team mascot to welcome visitors to Coachfest. I had the opportunity to talk to them and learned how much the connection with Rob and his fund-raising efforts for motor neurone disease meant to them. He is, literally, a Leeds Rhinos hero and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Across the two days, a total of £3,500 was raised for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This was achieved from the sale of raffle tickets and generous individual corporate donations from Totalkare, Ilesbus and Fourway Coaches.

For a show put together at short notice, there was a tremendous turnout of 50 industry manufacturers and suppliers to attract the attention of operator visitors and make it a really worthwhile event. I had six hours before show closing time at 1600hrs to visit as many stands as possible. Here’s who I met:


Paul showed off new Temsa MD9, HD12 and HD13 models on display. The MD9 is a 9.48m, 39+1+1 coach using the Cummins ISB6.7-litre engine and ZF transmission. The HD12 is 12.276m, 53+1+WC coach using the DAF E6 10.8 litre engine with a ZF transmission. At the top of the range is the HD13 13.076m, 57+1+WC coach using the same DAF E6/ZF engine and transmission combination.

My impression was of good value, solidly engineered products backed up by committed knowledgeable staff with the facilities needed to provide the service which operators need.

The new Temsa UK (TSUK) dealership is coming up to two years old and will see the delivery of its 100th new vehicle this year. TSUK’s 2023 new vehicle sales will be 75 vehicles, a Temsa record in its history of sales in the UK. TSUK provides comprehensive aftersales service and it is also happy to take used vehicles in part exchange. The creation of such a mature dealership in just two years is a significant achievement and has exceeded the initial expectations for the company.

When I was there, a total of 50 used vehicles were on display for sale. Across the two days of Coachfest, 33 were sold. TSUK took orders for six new vehicles.


From the Temsa sales section I took the short walk across the hall to visit Creighton Johns, UK Aftersales & Production Director in charge of the Ilesbus stand. Since its formation just five years ago in 2018, Ilesbus has experienced rapid growth in demand for its Mercedes-Benz chassis and Iveco chassis-based minibuses. It now provides a range of minibus and midibus models, from basic to luxury, which are designed in the UK and manufactured at its factory in Bursa, Turkey. Creighton commutes back and forth to the Turkey plant every fortnight. The demand growth has led to production being ramped up, with a doubling in staff over the past 12 months.

Ilesbus’ primary customer base is tour operators, but it also supplies passenger transport operators of all types and now has additional sales outlets in Hong Kong, Norway, Finland, Italy and Portugal. The Ilesbus team took orders for eight new vehicles at Coachfest. On the question of power source, Creighton thinks hydrogen is the answer.

Outside in the rear yard, Ilesbus had an example of its Iveco-based I-City Max low-floor minibus, available in 25- or 32-seat configurations. You can view the video walk-around of this vehicle in the Coachfest video on the Coach & Bus Week YouTube channel.

Going deeper into the main hall, I visited Mike Formby, the Managing Director at Sigma Fabrics which is the exclusive supplier of the Turkish Epangle Tekstil moquettes, vinyl and flatweave fabrics to the UK bus and coach industry from its Blackpool base. Epangle Tekstil customers include Mercedes-Benz/EvoBus, Van Hool, MAN and Temsa. Sigma provides next day delivery from stock.

The event was held at Temsa’s Cleckheaton premises. SARAH TAYLOR

Trade representation

Further across the hall I came across the familiar figure of Andy Warrender, Operations Manager – Coaches at the RHA. Andy has been instrumental in getting the coach side of the RHA going after they were approached by some coach operators to provide a membership service primarily because of the widespread operational support that the RHA can provide. He explained that in the last 10 years, RHA membership has doubled. Now, with over 7,000 members, the RHA has developed its HQ and regional teams to provide experience and depth across a comprehensive range of good value services to coach operators.

Close by, the CPT stand showcased its well-known, long-standing trade body services to the coach and bus industry, so we now have two heavyweight bodies campaigning on our behalf.

Apparently, less than 20% of licence-holders in our industry are members of a trade body. Perhaps both the RHA and CPT need to look carefully at whether they can improve their offerings in terms of price and scope to deliver what operators truly want. And perhaps operators who are not yet members of a trade body should consider joining so that the voice of industry in government is heard with more force.

Here’s a thought for the trade bodies, especially as we’ve seen some of our high-profile businesses stop trading or sell up in recent months. The effect of the Government’s Covid-19 lockdowns had questionable, if any, effect on the spread of Covid-19, but it sure did have a catastrophic negative effect on the net assets of many small to medium-sized business in our industry. These losses cannot be written off against future profits, they were simply imposed from above by the state. In order to survive, many had to take ‘Bounce Back Loans,’ an extraordinary state-forced conversion of hard-earned private assets into bank debt.

Have our trade bodies fought to have this injustice put right? CBW aside, I have only heard talk in the media about dishonest businesses that sprang up to take the loans and run off with the money. But 1,000s of honest businesses have suffered. Could trade bodies use their clout to get those bounce back loans written off now for companies that have diligently made repayments. That really would be the sort of achievement to encourage greater membership.

I moved on to see Chris Barkley, the Sales Manager at Driveline Emissions. Specialising in the cleaning and refurbishment of exhaust systems, Driveline has 10 dealer sites in the UK plus Madrid and Portugal operations. It has a maintenance division looking after systems and an engineering division retrofitting exhausts where it is economically viable on older vehicles.

The Driveline message from Chris is that by keeping exhaust systems properly maintained, you stay compliant with the legislation on emissions, dramatically reduce your effect on the atmosphere and you save significant fuel costs. Win, win, win.

Next a company I had never come across before. Prestolite supplies alternators and starters to manufacturers. Stephen Truelock, its UK & Far East Sales Manager had a table full of its essential products. The company is ultimately owned now by Broad-Ocean Motor, a Chinese business.

Proctors’ Van Hool double-decker converted to a race car transporter and motorhome makes an impressive sight. SARAH TAYLOR

Outdoor space

Time for some fresh air and a trip to one of the catering options for some coffee. The main rear yard at Lodge Garage was full of people, vehicles and a large Totalkare outdoor display.

Steve Braund, Totalkare’s Marketing Manager, gave me a run-down of the business and the products on display. A UK privately owned business, Totalkare has served the coach and bus industry for nearly 45 years. It is still actively increasing its widening range of quality workshop equipment and is almost becoming a one-stop-workshop shop in that sense.

On show the company had mobile column lifts, testing equipment, a trye changer, wheel balancer and a section of versatile steel inspection pit which it will manufacture and fit to your site specification.

Workshop equipment is a major long-term investment, so Totalkare provides finance options to make the purchase cashflow-friendly. See a clip of the Totalkare show stand in the Coachfest show video on the Coach & Bus Week YouTube channel.

Next stop was for a chat with Rob Kelly, Business Development Manager at the Handsfree camera systems stand and his colleague, Chris Baines, Business Development Manager of CKO, which is now part of the Handsfree group. Handsfree provides camera systems to fleets and emergency services to monitor the vehicle, driver, passenger and environment for safety and service improvement purposes. With the addition of CKO it is also a distributor for Alcolock.

Treading carefully

Is your coach well shod? If not, maybe you need Alcoa wheels thinks Neil Hitchin, the Sales Manager (North) for commercial wheels of Tyre-Line, Alcoa’s UK distributor. Neil showed off some smart Alcoa rims for operators to buy. They are made in either Hungary or the USA. He insisted I take a business card. You’ve guessed it, a smart punched metal item, made of aluminium.

I didn’t have time to stop for lunch because there were so many stands to visit and vehicles to see. But Paul Gardner made sure all stand-holders got food and drink. Several of them commented on how good it was and I saw many sneaking large, tasty platefuls of food behind their logo banners to fuel themselves up for the afternoon.

Proctors’ Van Hool double-decker converted to a race car transporter and motorhome makes an impressive sight. SARAH TAYLOR

A notable pair enjoying the catering were Jo Dawson-Gerrard and Kai Leyland, respectively Senior Associate Solicitor and Trainee Solicitor at the Backhouse Jones stand. The food disappeared when I got to them, but they were smiling and very complimentary about the fact that it existed and that it tasted so good.

Well known legal advisers to the industry, and approached with care given hourly rates around £450 these days, Backhouse Jones has spent time over the years developing its sensible ‘Backup’ scheme to support operators at a low fixed cost. I asked Jo to summarise the Backup for Coaches product in one sentence. After a couple of attempts (solicitors are human after all!) Jo said: “The Backup scheme provides on-tap 24/7 road regulatory and employment/HR representation and advice for operators for a fixed monthly fee.”

“How much for a 20-vehicle operator” I said. Great value at £230 plus VAT per month was the reply. If you like to sleep at night, this seems a bargain, working out at only £138 per vehicle per year.

We’ve reported on ShuttleID’s digital pass system in CBW recently. Chris Bell was there to demonstrate the product which tracks who is on and off a coach. This is particularly good for schoolchildren and parents, providing certainty and reducing fraud on paid non-public-service routes. Parents can track the location of the pass-holder and the system provides operator data. The passes can be bought online to automate and secure the system for schools and colleges as much as possible.

Field Engineer Dara Cockcroft was representing Autosound at the show. The firm has been serving the industry for many years and provides USB, CCTV, audio, PA and visual systems for operators. Autosound products are standard fit on Temsa, Yutong and Plaxton coaches. This is a business with a deep history of quality products and service to the coach and bus industry.

Remembering the fuel-hungry and rather jerky automatic transmissions from the past, it always amazes me when the ZF transmission in my car changes gear imperceptibly however hard I press the throttle into warp drive territory. ZF coach and bus transmissions exhibit the same smooth characteristics.

Richard Noble, Field Service and Training Engineer, and his colleague Dale Reynolds on the ZF stand were happily showing off the engineering that goes into the latest ZF transmissions with a cutaway example on show. ZF have been in the UK for 50 years this September. ZF Friedrichschafen AG is of course a global company but the size is impressive. Since acquiring Wabco Holdings Inc (braking systems) in 2020 the company has over 160,000 employees at 260 locations in 41 countries. They can definitely maintain your ZF transmission and your Wabco brakes; Richard asked me to emphasise the extensive training they offer in the UK now.


Finance & furnishings

I mentioned Mike Beagrie earlier, but I didn’t manage to catch up with him on the Close Brothers Vehicle Hire (CBVH) stand. However, Alun Ravenscroft, Business Development Manager, was there to offer operators the range of rental alternatives for fixed-cost bus and coach operations. Mike, and Simon Matthews, at CBVH have stuck to the principle of operating the business without high overhead costs so that they can offer competitive rental rates on new vehicles. Give them a call if you don’t want the responsibility and uncertain costs of vehicle ownership but prefer a fixed cost, especially if you have a fixed contract to fulfil.

Right next to Close Brothers was the place to get finance. The Crystal Business Finance team of Director Mike Austin and Associate Duncan Harris were there representing the Solihull-based finance brokers. They act for big banks like Lloyds and Aldermore as well for more specialist financiers. They provide new vehicle finance solutions though manufacturers like Temsa and Irizar, but primarily act directly for operators.

After a management buyout from its former US owners, Camira went on to buy Holdsworth Fabrics in 2006 and is now considered the market leader in transport fabrics in the UK bus, coach and rail industries. Headquartered in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, Camira also has offices in the USA, China, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. Representing Camira at Coachfest were Nigel Vickers, Tom Dixon and Honour Clough, showcasing the huge range of leather-like vinyl, woven and printed fabrics available. They are excited about the new potential opened up by printed fabrics so that seats can be monetised with advertising. Imagine your seats earning a revenue stream!

By this stage of the afternoon, I was beginning to run out of steam, but there was so much more to see. The Mix Telematics stand had Carl McFarlane, its Enterprise Sales Manager for Bus and Coach, telling me about its partnership with McGill’s leading to winning the BRAKE road safety charity Safety Awards 2022 Partnership Award.

MiX has been in our coach and bus market since 1996. Essentially, its systems provide a modern telematics platform to help operators reduce fuel costs, reduce risks and reduce accidents by improving driver behaviour with combined vehicle and video telematics. If you get it right, telematics should pay for themselves.

A variety of new and used coaches were on display. SARAH TAYLOR

Is it a sign?

Next door to MiX was John Hartley, Sales Director for McKenna Brothers, the successful Manchester-based supplier of signs, screens and on-board destination systems. Derek Dawson, its MD, told me that from October this year the accessibility regulation begins to take effect requiring operators to install PSVAR signage on coaches. There is some funding available for small operators. Get more information from John.

McKenna now supplies hi-res screens as well as departure countdown information screens in visual/audio formats for internal or external display. Signs, it seems, keep changing and improving.

Opposite McKenna was Mistral Group, the rental and finance company represented by Amy Duckworth and Lloyd Gibson, both Regional Sales Managers. Mistral offers rental, finance and assistance for operators to sell vehicles through the Mistral Bus Shop. Amy and Lloyd were also enjoying the relaxed nature of the show and had seen lots of customers.

Finally, I spotted Phil White (National Practice Leader – Transportation) and George Bryant (Head of Office, High Wycombe) smiling behind a modest round table decorated with a Gallagher-branded tablecloth, a model vintage bus (or was it a vintage model bus?) and a few Gallagher mugs and pens.

Well, the insurance business is essential, but we all know that insurance is getting costlier. This is not at all helped by the delays across the motor industry in getting components needed for repairs. Sometimes it is cheaper, they said (particularly with cars), to write a vehicle off than pay the costs of a replacement rental vehicle while the repairer waits perhaps six months for parts. It’s a crazy situation. Costlier claims mean higher insurance premiums.

On the upside, Gallagher is the largest insurance broker for the passenger transport sector and has over 850 coach operators insured. Room for more they said! It is the only broker able to place business with any of the six UK underwriters for our coach, bus and minibus industry.

There were more suppliers at the show; I am sorry we could not fit everyone in to this review.

Robbie Prentice, of Prentice Westwood, was the lucky winner of the top raffle prize, a one week holiday to Turkey for two people. The wine and CBW subscription were won by Josh Cunningham of Swift Signs.

My overall impression was of a hard-working team from Temsa and Ilesbus providing a successful and enjoyable industry show in place of the cancelled NEC show. Well done to Paul and the team. Is this a fixture now? I am not alone in hoping that it will be. We’ll have to wait and see.