Mr Brian Pike purchased the old Lakeside Filling Station and transport cafe site and moved his family down from Ilminster to live at the rear of the property. This was to be the family home for the next five years as he devotes all his time and money into his business of selling cars and caravans. During the ensuing months a small workshop was built and Brian Pike had established a reputation for good service among his customers.
The Sovereign Car, Caravan & Caravanette Centre, specialising in Volkswagen vehicles was born but towards the end of 1979 the business was re-christened West Country Motorhomes and registered as a limited company with Brian Pike, Stephen Pike and Mike Hammer as directors. They brought in Volkswagen vans to recondition and have converted by Autohomes, Devon & Holdsworth.
West Country Motorhomes sold their very first new motorhome in 1984 – a Ford Canterbury and were offered Holdsworth, Autohomes & Elddis franchises. Second hand sales were also doing well and the first steps into motorhome hire were being taken.
The company was going from strength to strength and as the motorhome industry grew, so did West Country Motorhomes. They were Volkswagen approved and sales increased. Franchises for Auto-Trail, Auto-Sleepers & Swift followed, bringing the total to six.
Mr Pike’s second son Paul entered the business, closely followed by Peter Shaw, who was to become the future sales manager. West Country Motorhomes attended their first Earls Court Caravan & Outdoor Leisure Show and other major events around the country.
Stephen Pike took the reigns of the company although Brian Pike was still involved. With the country in recession and British industry suffering West Country Motorhomes boldly committed themselves to double the size of the premises.
By 1992 the motorhome industry had changed dramatically – customers were demanding more comfort and luxury. Stephen and his team decided that the secret of growth and success was to offer more choice, so the number of motorhomes on display grew again
Even though the display area has been increased at least three times thus far, expansion was still at the forefront of business strategy. A 2.5 acre site just off junction 22 of the M5 went on the market and was immediately snapped up by West Country Motorhomes.
The small workshop had increasingly proved inadequate and further development was necessary. A large purpose built workshop was put into service to cope with the expanding maintenance and warranty requirements. West Country Motorhomes were appointed as the dealers of the prestigious German built motorhomes La Strada.
Having enjoyed several years of steady growth in sales the company had once more outgrown the premises at Lower Weare. The decision was taken to separate the sales from the rest of the company’s activities. Work began on the land purchased in 1997 at Brent Knoll near Burnham-on-Sea, to build a new sales centre.
In January 2002 the Sales Centre was officially opened at a cost of £1million. Everyone from customers and manufacturers to the motorhome press agreed that West Country Motorhomes had raised the standard of presentation and the image of motorhome dealerships to a new level.
The new sales centre is a resounding success reporting a record year for sales. West Country Motorhomes opened the Swindon Motorhome Centre joining forces with the long established Folding Caravan Centre at their premises at Blunsdon, Swindon. The Swindon venture allowed us to take on the Auto-Trail range.
With increased sales and servicing work, it was decided to invest further in Lower Weare. A dedicated new workshop was built to cope with the workload and became the ‘Service Centre’. Back at Brent Knoll West Country launched the ‘Sunseeker’ – a special version of the popular Elddis Autoquest. The Swindon branch was doing well too and outgrew the premises shared with the Folding Caravan Centre. More display area was needed and they moved to a better site at Blunsdon Abbey changing the trading name back to the established West Country Motorhomes.
The Swindon Sales Centre had a change of management with Paul Pike taking over along with Ryan Butcher. They were determined to expand and develop the Swindon operation and increase the sales and profile there. The Pioneer franchise was added to compliment the Autocruise range.
After an increase in sales the Swindon Sales Centre moved again, this time to Turnpike Road where a brand new showroom was built. Steve Cant joined the company to work alongside Ryan.
Established Caravan manufacturer Bailey entered the Motorhome market and West Country Motorhomes were delighted to become main agents. Stephen Pike’s son Max joined the sales team adding a third generation to the company, and long serving salesman Steve Taylor was appointed Sales manager.
Due to increased demand West Country Motorhomes doubled the display area at the Brent Knoll Sales Centre. West Country was awarded the prestigious Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Award for Best Supplying Dealer for New Motorhomes and the Gold Award for Used.
Always looking to the future West Country Motorhome will expand again. Coming soon will be a new aftercare centre (Autumn 2015).