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AutoRaise Platinum Partner Profile: Morelli Group

2017 will see the 60th anniversary of The Morelli Group, a business started by "Slim" Moring and his wife Win, and the company is still 100% independent and family owned.

The Directors now include Graham Parker MD and Rob Cohen FD who have added their skill set to the family members who remain dedicated to supplying the best service to UK refinish bodyshops.

The Morelli Group are now recognised as the UK’s leading independent automotive refinish supplier with a national network that provides customers with outstanding service. Working with motor manufacturers, accident management companies and other industry experts to discover opportunities in both existing and new marketplaces, Morelli help their customers stay ahead of the competition.

Q: Firstly, why did Morelli decide to sign up as an AutoRaise Platinum Partner?
 Morelli are celebrating our 60th year trading in 2017 and we feel an obligation to put back into the industry that has served us well. There is undoubtedly a skills shortage for our customers looking for young keen talent to bring into their businesses.

Morelli have been supporting skills events since 2010 most notably supplying product for WorldSkills 2011 in London and the subsequent WorldSkills UK events at the NEC each year since then. There is a gradual decline that if not reversed will lead to a critical lack of staff in our industry.

Our company founder started as an apprentice and we have been training apprentices within the over many years and as soon as we heard about AutoRaise we knew it was an initiative we had to get behind.

Q: Has the current skills shortage in the bodyshop sector had an impact on your business/plans/approach/way you do business with repairers?
 If a customer is short staffed then he cannot work as efficiently as he would like and therefore, indirectly, their spend may be less because of this. This is very difficult to measure but without doubt it will affect the industry as a whole if the skills shortage is not reversed.

Q: Are there any lessons the bodyshop community can learn from Morelli’s approach to recruitment, training and retention of staff?
 We were keen to get apprentices into our company as soon as we heard about the schemes relevant to our trade and we have had apprentices who have progressed in Customer Service, Warehousing and even Digital Marketing for our online business. I think a lot of bodyshops have taken some time to feel comfortable with something that was the norm for our industry some years ago. Ironically many of the mature staff in the workshop probably started as an apprentice when they joined the trade.

The apprentices that we have taken on add great value to our company and the majority are employed at the end of their qualification. I would also say don’t just look at the shop floor, you can get apprentices for positions throughout your business.

Q: It’s an AutoRaise Twitter takeover by @morelligroup – and you’re in charge! In 140 characters MAX – why should young people consider a bodyshop technician apprenticeship?
 Our trade is perfect for young people wanting a hands-on job working on cars with varied & new challenges every day & great earning potential.

Q: Morelli is big on taking a ‘business partner’ approach – how does your partnership with AutoRaise fit with this approach?
 We are proud of our long associations with suppliers, customers, charities and our own staff. This is important to us as a responsible and ethical company with 60 years trading history. We are here for the long term and that is how we see our partnership with AutoRaise, things won’t change overnight and by being involved from the beginning we hope to be part of the solution going forward.

Q: As a long-standing supporter of the UK Skills Show and World Skills, and the association you have with the IMI, you have made a clear ‘pledge’ to support those in the industry who make a commitment to future bodyshop skills. Why is this so important to Morelli?
 We have always listened to our customers and one common theme has been the skills shortage over many years so when we were asked by the IMI to support these skills events in 2010 we did not hesitate to get involved.

To see the students competing has been very rewarding for us and our supply partners and we have received several thank you letters from the competitors for our support during this time. Being involved has helped us to understand the difficulty that the colleges face when training their students and we have tried to connect suppliers more with the colleges we work with.

The IMI have been very good to work with, David Massie in particular, who runs the Automotive Skills at the NEC, is very dedicated which in turn inspires us to help where possible.

Q: In what practical ways does/can Morelli help repairers – and specifically – bodyshop apprentices/their mentors?
 Any way we can is the honest answer, we are here to get involved whether it be with training or helping the apprentice in the purchase of their first spraygun. We aim to keep supporting our customer and anybody engaging with AutoRaise, whether they buy from us or not, we have already attended several open evenings at shops we do not supply why wouldn’t we?

This is an industry initiative and we need to all get involved in supporting AutoRaise and then we can learn from each other about which initiatives work the best.

Q: You have to write a TO DO LIST for AutoRaise! What three things should be our top priority, in your view?
 Engage with schools/colleges; engage with school leavers; clearly explain the apprenticeship to customers of all sizes.

Q: As a leading repair and refinish distributor Morelli has, for a long time, played a central role in the bodyshop sector. Why is it now (more) important to you to invest in and support initiatives that go beyond the role of ‘supplier’ to bodyshops?
 We have always taken a long-term view to our business and our customer. We do not believe in any sale for a quick profit that will have any possible down side in the long term. Our most successful sales tool is about cost reduction and reducing the customers spend, if we can achieve this then this helps to create a partnership built on trust. Our involvement in AutoRaise proves that we are here for the long term we need to have young, keen blood injected into this industry as without it we will all suffer in the future.

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