Panel Craft UK

Whether it's reducing the burden of paperwork or guiding a business owner through a major crisis, the right expertise can keep you on the straight and narrow.

Panel Craft UK is a family-run, car body manufacturing business which is focused on servicing the needs of premium car owners. To meet the stringent criteria insisted upon when applying for 'approved' status from manufacturers such as Ferrari-Maserati, Volkswagen Group, Jaguar LandRover, and Mitsubishi, the family business has to ensure it adheres to the highest standards, from manufacturing equipment to staff training and work processes. 

In 2006, the business underwent an expansion, moving from its 3,500 sq. ft. premises to a new 23,000 sq. ft. facility and increasing the staff from four to 19 employees.

It initially brought Mentor on board during the expansion to help it establish robust HR infrastructure, from employee contracts to handbooks. It has also since added health & safety online training services, from quick online sessions to in-depth, face-to-face modules for the management team.

According to Mentor Employment Law & HR Consultant Judy Foster, owners Viv, John and Juan Mackinnon run a professional organisation. “We help them achieve high standards in areas of the business where they don't have in-house expertise,” she says. “With our legally-sound advice, they know they have all their ducks in a row.”


Building a positive business culture


And it's the Mentor consultants' personal touch that has impressed founder Viv Mackinnon most. She highlights that managing a fast-growing business means she is time poor and doesn't have time for excessive paperwork.  


“Mentor's consultants took the time to get to know our business and identify our needs,” she explains. “We particularly value our bespoke employee handbooks as these have helped staff to engage with the business culture and know what is expected of them. Our employees know we care about them and about their welfare. 


“We've relied heavily on Mentor for developing and implementing employee documentation, such as bespoke employee handbooks, contracts and letters.  

“Having face-to-face time with our consultants is great - it's a luxury to have someone sitting next to me and I've learnt so much about employment law; we've also gained a thorough understanding of our health & safety responsibilities.” From January 2016 we are also acquiring Mentor's support for Environmental Policy.

There in your time of need


The Mackinnons have also learned the true value of the 24/7 Mentor Advice Service. When their son Juan, who manages HR at the firm, was faced with an employment dispute while his parents were away on holiday, Mentor was able to step in and provide the advice and support he needed to manage the situation and know he was protecting the business's interests.

“You may not always like what you hear from your consultant, but it's honest and there's no mucking around - you get direct advice about the actions you should take and the position the company should take,” Juan explains. “I was given advice on the employment law relevant to our situation and actions we needed to take, ensuring that we achieved an outcome that was fair to everyone.”

Viv's experience with a previous, smaller consultancy firm highlights the value of Mentor's expertise. “Our former consultant just told us to pay up, no matter what the issue. With Mentor, our consultant assesses the full picture, helping you to record your evidence and achieve an outcome that is reasonable and fair for all parties,” she continues. “You know you have the right policies and documentation in place, and know the position you should take to mitigate risk to the business.”

Panel Craft UK has to undergo regular and rigorous audits to prove it is working to standards demanded by the big-name manufacturers it is approved by, but Viv has noted that simply being with Mentor reassures auditors. “A manufacturer's audit often becomes easier when they find out Mentor is advising us - it shows them that we take compliance with employment law, health & safety and their own criteria seriously. We find their visits are now much shorter,” she says.

“This business is a labour of love and, though we have a turnover of £2.5 million a year, a tribunal could destroy everything we've worked for. It's great to know that we're protected with Mentor and that the knowledge and expertise is there when we need it.”

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