If you’ve been to one of the NEC shows or visited a caravan dealership recently, it’s highly likely that you’ve spotted the Paintseal Direct stand, or at least seen one of its advertising leaflets somewhere.
Indeed, many dealerships also offer Paintseal Direct’s specialist protective coating for their new caravans. So what is its history? I went to Nottingham to learn more about the company.
Paintseal Direct applies its protective GEN-3 Ceramic Glasscoat on caravans and motorhomes, which not only keeps the paintwork shiny, but also makes it easier to clean. If you want a hand with restoring yours to its sparkling best, be sure to take a look at our guide to the best caravan cleaners.
I speak from experience here, because we had our caravan treated when it was new.
It doesn’t require polishing, either – abrasive polish should actually be avoided.
So confident in the product is the company that it offers customers a five-year warranty, and to date, has applied the coating to more than 50,000 leisure vehicles.
Car care products
Back in the 1980s, Paintseal MD Andy Bradbury was working in the automotive industry, initially selling cars but then becoming involved in paint protection. Between 1996 and 2006, he worked for Supagard, a firm specialising in car care.
Andy, wife Lisa and their young children were keen caravanners, owning a Bailey caravan. Andy treated the van with Supagard products, and he said that people used to comment on how clean it was. He pointed out that having had the treatment, it was easier to clean dirt and black streaks off the paintwork. That resulted in a number of people asking to have their own caravan treated. But Supagard, although an excellent product, did not offer the longevity Andy was looking for.While working for Supagard, Andy set up Paintseal Direct, which is still run today by Lisa and her team.
In 2003, Paintseal moved away from Supagard products. Andy first switched to a range of Teflon-based products, and then to GEN-3 Liquid Glass ceramic coatings in 2007.
Aiming to give customers the best possible experience with both product and application, Andy decided to take control and set up Paintseal Direct’s own specialist application team, which meant that every order for the treatment was handled, and all products were applied, directly by the firm. Dealers would promote the product, but all of the orders would be dealt with by Paintseal Direct (which continues to this day).
Andy’s main work remains within the automotive industry in his Paintseal Europe firm, where today, he supplies 18 of the major motor firms with the same product as the one used
by Paintseal Direct, with Paintseal Europe’s branding often being replaced by the manufacturer’s own product name. It’s now sold in 42 countries and Andy told me that more than a million cars are treated every year throughout the world.
But the caravan and motorhome side of the business is still something that’s very close to his heart.
Initially, Paintseal Direct had just the one mobile technician (who is still with them), but such was the demand, that number soon increased to the current 12. These technicians travel the length and breadth of the UK treating caravans, motorhomes, campervans, boats, planes and cars.
You’ll often see their black vans at dealerships where new caravans are being treated, but they will also go to a customer’s home, or the customer can take their vehicle to the Paintseal facility in Nottingham.
Very soon, manufacturers started taking notice, with Adria becoming the first to endorse the product back in 2008 and having all demonstration units treated with the coating.
Coachman founder Jim Hibbs was also very interested in the product, but in his inimitably passionate way, he wanted it to be tested by some of his suppliers before he would endorse it. It was, and he did!
As Andy and Lisa were Bailey owners, several friends in the Bailey Owners Club had their caravans treated, too, and to date, Andy confirmed, they’ve probably done in the region
of 25,000 Baileys.
Of course, Elddis (Erwin Hymer Group) and other major brands didn’t miss out, either.
In the early days of Paintseal Direct, Andy and Lisa worked on dealers’ stands at the various shows, but soon realised they needed a stand of their own, so customers had a direct route to both the company and the product. This year sees the 14th year of a Paintseal Direct stand at the NEC shows, and having visited them there, I know how busy they are.
Rather than having a need for a major advertising campaign, business has grown and grown on the back of the numerous customers wanting to have their vehicles treated, usually hearing about it by word of mouth from other satisfied customers.
Paintseal Direct still supports dealerships, but has decreased the number of dealers it works with from 93 to 45, in favour of those it feels offer the same high level of service to their customers that they aim to.
Above all, Paintseal Direct wants to see happy customers, and that is the reason for the firm being in complete control of the whole process. “Treating Customers Fairly” is how the company describes this.
While I was at the premises, a customer brought in his new Coachman Lusso for treatment. He’d just picked it up from the dealer and driven straight there.
I then witnessed the process of the treatment in action. First, any excess sealant was cleaned off and technicians Callum and Mark ensured the caravan was spotlessly clean before applying the product, starting on the roof and working down. All of the windows were open, so that nowhere was missed.
This is a straightforward procedure, but it needs to be carried out properly and meticulously.
Before I left, Andy told me: “There’s actually no such thing as true ceramic paint protection that comes in a plastic bottle. Our chemists are the pioneers of this chemistry, and the first to launch exclusively through Paintseal companies in 2007.”
“It took seven years to develop liquid glass from NASA’s polysilazane, which must be contained in either vacuum-sealed glass bottles or aluminium containers.”
“Being sad as I am, I’ve lived and breathed paint protection for the past 35 years, so I have a great level of understanding and success with this formula.”
- If you’re wondering how to restore your tourer to its former glory, take a look at our guide on how to clean a caravan, where we talk you through the process.
- Find out how Nigel Hutson got on when he went behind the scenes at Pro-tec Covers.
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