"Why settle for less when there's a demand for excellence"
Chris Pursall - Director
Chris Pursall - Director
Prestige Paintworks was set-up in February 2009 by Chris Pursall after 25 plus years working at accredited bodyshops and accident repair centres in the South East, including a nine year period at a BMW approved bodyshop in Eastbourne.
With employers’ focuses and fixations on profit margins and a constant battle morally of the job either being done "right" or "right now" which had been the mindset of so many employers for years. It seemed obvious that there was a large void within the industry for a shop to not just send out good work like some were already doing but to really stand apart from those and to provide great work that so few could achieve or even want to achieve for their clients.
Over time that void became more and more apparent and the seed had been sewn, top quality had to be the business model and over time build a business that doesn't compete or price match with other restorers, how they operate their business is up to them and they will have their own target audience and that's fine but leave it at that.
The reality is only we do what we do, therein we have no competition and it's that personal service the client's are paying for.
Opening a facility that could deliver an excellent service and "can do" attitude backed with a superb product would in time be realised and since the company was set-up Chris hasn’t looked back, having built this business on over 25 years of hands on experience.
Having tried to please everyone in the past by taking on smaller accident repairs and paint jobs and working them in alongside the restoration work, we now solely focus on steering the business toward the serious discerning collector, for those clients who demand only the very best when it comes to one stop shop restoration whether it is UK or International, we are only a phone call away.
Now in our 11th year and with some fantastic clients on our books can spot a good job from a bad one within minutes when estimating a vehicle for restoration, spotting issues which most people don’t even notice or which others have considered acceptable, to us simply isn’t. We are passionate about what we do so it’s our job to notice when there are issues or areas of concern and to inform the client about correcting them.
We don't do fixed price restorations here as some restorers are doing, it might be fashionable at the moment but how can you charge the same price for a fairly original car that needs a facelift to a barn find that needs everything doing ? How is that remotely fair or even sensible?
Someone has paid over the odds for one but not nearly enough for the other and we don't generally take on any trade work either because most traders simply want shiny cars they can sell easier, our standards far exceed what most are more than happy to sell so our efforts are wasted frankly so over time it's a market we have intentionally avoided, restoration is what we are set up for so remains our market focus.
Each restoration has its own unique history so therefore goes through a step by step process where its broken down into key stages and assessed, sure each project shares some commonality with another but in each case will be evaluated and judged on its own merit before any decisions are made and a plan to move the project forward drawn up.
With a small team of highly skilled panel beaters, painters and engineers who all share Chris’ methodical, detailed and thorough approach, Prestige Paintworks is becoming renowned for its work within the automotive restoration industry for being anything but a regular body and paintshop with over 250 cars having been painted in house since its humble beginnings with jobs ranging from a single panel to a complete repaint. With such a high standard and focus for the Aston Martin, Ferrari and Jaguar marques, leading marque specialists who are struggling with staff vs workload are entrusting Prestige Paintworks with key stages of body and paint so they can cope with capacity.
Chris is still as hands-on today with restorations as he was over ten years ago at the start and now with 35 plus years of experience and a broad skillset can himself cover everything from strip and fit, metal fabrication including English wheeling panels to the preparation and painting of the cars so his labour is invested where its needed the most.
These days the final preparation that goes into achieving a Prestige Paintworks standard paint job is split largely between Chris and his brother in-law Mark to maintain the highest quality and continuity required with the final finish on the cars ultimately painted by Chris himself who's passion, endless enthusiasm and quite possibly a large helping of OCD achieve the end results you see today.
We ensure that every vehicle is looked after correctly from start to finish, we encourage the owners to call in as often as they can as well to see the progress being made on their project and also to be an active part of the restoration journey.
Not all our clients are local to us or UK based so we've also done live videos too so there is still client interaction, communication is so important to maintain consistency in the projects direction so the more times the client can call in to view progress the better.
A brief bit about myself:
I started in this industry as a green eyed 16 year old YTS trainee for a small family garage back in 1983, working there probably plays a large part in the way I am today in terms of work ethic etc.
Everyone helped out so although you had a 'preferred skill' you were also pretty good at all the other aspects of bodywork, paintwork and restoration too and so you were always kept busy and 5.30am starts were fairly common, something that has stuck to this day. Back then it was a mix of trade work, general accident repairs with resprays and minor restorations very common too. It's in the latter I was 'happier' if that's the right term. I wasn't interested in banging out trade work and quick turn around jobs like a lot of people were, I wanted to get stuck right into the bigger, meatier size jobs and that's never really changed.
Back then doing your own stuff after hours was ok too so I got to learn how to get out of trouble fast when you are repainting a car on your own at weekends and it didn't go as planned. I learnt pretty fast I can tell you.
I left there in '87 to start at another garage to learn from other panel beaters and painters moreso to see how I could benefit from seeing how they were doing things and utilising some of their techniques to broaden my own skillset so that in time I could become a versatile all rounder, I didn't want to be reliant on someone else to move a job forward so the more I could do myself the better it was in my eyes.
Wherever it was I worked I leant into the bigger labour intensive jobs. I spent 9 years at Leeds Motors in Eastbourne from the early 90's firstly as a panel beater doing a fair amount of Cellette Jig work then later as a painter. During that time there were always people wanting motorbikes painting in GP colours or repaints on cars etc so I've always been into the bigger jobs and never get that sense of being overwhelmed by the size of the job, it was always about the details so I just got on with it and still do...
Over time the type of jobs you take on after hours change because if your work is good then people start talking and before you know it your working on something special or expensive that simply has to be right. Looking back I've got to work on some pretty cool things, an Arrows F1 car was probably the coolest one I have to say. It was working on the nicer stuff that steered me towards the high end market, high labour input jobs are where I'm comfortable and I'm wise enough to know that the values of Aston's, Ferrari's and Jaguars are a few of the cars that can justify the hours it takes to turn out the right result.
It knew at some point I would start my own business but it took till 2009 for the time to feel 'right'. With the help of my wife Gina's family (thanks Mr & Mrs T) I set up shop and haven't looked back and to this day I am truly grateful for them all believing in me.
I started on my own initially but as more work came in more hands were needed to cope. I outgrew my old place and although it served me well it just wasn't the right setting for the type of customers I wanted my business to appeal to so a business loan from a client (you know who you are, thank you) prompted a move to where we are today in a modern secure building and now a modest team of 4.
I never had any ambition to build a big business with lots of employees that takes a large volume of work to feed it though over time it grew to 7 productive staff members in 2016, however it did lose some consistency along the way for a few different reasons so we are back to a smaller team now with no immediate plans to grow any bigger, I honestly think I prefer a smaller team with a versatile skillset who work really well together.
I have absolutely no interest in surrounding myself with chancers who go through life winging it, there are plenty of those in any industry. Or employ people who don't share that enthusiasm or direction, why would I - or rather - why should I ?
To me it's more than just a job, it always has been. It's a genuine enthusiasm to do the best, to give more and continually be better than the day before and to create what some people would consider art, I mean that's the best job in the world right ?
Winston Churchill apparently once said
"If you find a job you love, you'll never work again"
That's also been linked to Mark Twain and Cofucious but I think they all have a point....