"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 so many 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.
The seed had been sewn, top quality had to be the business model.
Opening a facility that could deliver an excellent service backed with a superb product would in time be realised and since the company was set-up Chris hasn’t looked back, using his now 35 years of experience can spot a good job from a bad one within minutes when estimating a vehicle for restoration.
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.
Each restoration is unique with its own history and issues 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 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. Popularity is growing for the zero compromise restorations too with clients clearly recognising the difference between a fixed price option that has limitations to a zero compromise one that is only limited only to ones imagination and of course ones budget.
Chris is still as hands-on today with restorations as he was over nine 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. Combine that with our duty of care we ensure that every vehicle is looked after from start to finish, we encourage the owners to call in as often as they can too to see the progress being made on their project and to be an active part of the restoration journey. Not all our clients are local or even in the country 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.
Getting along to shows and events is equally very important for networking etc, meeting potential new clients and generally exposing our brand.
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 fairly 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 to be honest. Back then doing your own stuff after hours was ok too so I got to learn how to get out of trouble fast when your repainting a car on your own at weekends and its gone wrong. 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. 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, I've lost count the amount of Rothmans or Lucky Strike replica bikes I have painted that were popular back in the day 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.
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 5 with no immediate plans to grow any bigger, I have no ambition to build a big business with lots of employees that takes a large volume of work to feed it, that's just not me. I simply want to offer a service that's a bit more personal than most in as much as I've had input through the entire process, in turn maintaining the quality and detail throughout that process so for me keeping the headcount small is a significant factor in maintaining that.
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. Having a natural 'can do' attitude where nothing is ever daunting in terms of the scale of any task is obviously an advantage too. I just look at each job objectively and simply get on with it unlike those who put up barriers before they've even begun so have already made it harder for themselves and I've been around long enough to know that finding others with the passion and enthusiasm to do the same is far harder than finding the work itself in many cases. In my 35 years in this trade I've heard so many people complain about their job and don't enjoy what they do. But it's simple, your in the wrong job. I get that for some it's not their passion and that's fine but choose somewhere else to work then where you are happy in your work then it's all so much easier.
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....