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From apprentice to management in eight years - Pebley’s Robbie to swap places with his boss

A former Kingsdown School pupil who joined Swindon motor dealer Pebley Beach as an apprentice just eight years ago will become the head of the parts department in January, when he swaps places with his boss.

Robert Peart joined Pebley Beach – Wiltshire’s Apprentice Employer of the Year – in June 2006 after completing his GCSEs, with no clear idea of a career path. 

He spent three years as an apprentice before working his way to the position of deputy manager in the parts department.

And in two months’ time, the 24-year-old will swap places with the current head of the parts department, Steve Lawro, as part of the firm’s succession training and mentoring programme. 

Steve will spend two years supporting Robbie in his new role, enabling Steve to taken on different roles within the company.

Robbie will be responsible for training two apprentices and leading a four-strong team that ensures parts - from nuts and bolts to exhaust systems for all makes and models of cars - are on site when the technicians need to fit them to customers’ cars.

“I never thought, when I came here in 2006, that I’d be running the parts department in eight years,” said Robbie. “Pebley Beach is dedicated to the training and development of its team, and I’m delighted to have been a part of that.

“Swapping jobs with Steve will be strange, but he’s been my mentor for eight years, and it’s reassuring that he’ll be here to support me throughout the first two years in my new role.”

Steve said: “I take personal pride in bringing youngsters like Robbie through. I hired him as a wet-behind-the-ears school-leaver; now he’s a talented young man who is more than capable of running a department.”

Training has been an ongoing aspect of Robbie’s job. He learned his craft at the Suzuki training centre in Nottingham and this year he has been going through the Management Training Programme with Hyundai at High Wycombe.

Dominic Threlfall, managing director of Pebley Beach – which currently has five apprentices as part of its team, and was named apprentice employer of the year at the 2014 Wiltshire Business Awards – said: “Robbie is a real Pebley success story. We invest heavily in our trainees, and  all of our apprentices are given the opportunity to further their career with us. 

“Our apprenticeship schemes are not just about teaching youngsters work skills, but life skills too – that’s why we involve parents in the recruitment process. 

“It’s important that our apprentices are supported in those early years at work, and there will be challenges: they need the discipline to get up and come to work in the morning, they have to learn to budget their wages, and for many, going away on block-release training is the first time they’ve been away from home. All of those challenges require parental support. 

“For us, hiring apprentices is an excellent way of finding and moulding recruits to our needs, and identifying future talent. Robbie is a shining example of that.”