Sidmouth man David seals deal for Clearvac to take over Fords’ services

The owner of Fords South West Ltd, David Salter, with Dave Whelan, operations manager, and Clearvac

The owner of Fords South West Ltd, David Salter, with Dave Whelan, operations manager, and Clearvac's Martyn Fisher. Ref shs 38-16TI 8221. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A businessman who rose from apprentice plumber to managing director is the new owner of one of his home town’s biggest employers.

David Salter, of the Clearvac Group, this week announced the purchase of Fords of Sidmouth’s plumbing, electrical and kitchen/bathroom operations – a company he once worked for, writes Clarissa Place.

They will become a subsidiary of the Clearvac Group, named Fords South West Limited. This will sit alongside the group’s UK arm, Clearvac International Limited.

More than 60 staff at both British businesses will be retained and plans have been announced to create a ‘significant’ number of jobs. A new apprenticeship scheme will be established to enable trainees to gain their qualifications in the UK, but also travel internationally.

Fords of Sidmouth directors Tim and Mike Ford ‘will support the transition of their business into the Clearvac Group and will then focus on their property business interests’.

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“It’s a privilege to be talking on such a well-established local company with 100 years of history and reputation,” said dad-of-one Mr Salter. “We are looking forward to playing a part in its continuous success.

“Fords South West Limited has no interest or connection with ongoing planning or development within the valley.

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“We will continue to provide a first-class plumbing, electrical, kitchen and bathrooms services, as we are a service provider.

“We have many exciting opportunities to grow both businesses and I am looking forward to working closely with the management team and staff at Fords to develop the business in the South West.”

Mr Salter, 53, started his career as a trainee plumbing apprentice in Sidmouth, working for his dad Cyril Salter and uncle Roy.

He gained experience overseas on cruise ships and was employed as a plumber by Fords before starting his own company, Clearvac International.

Under the new setup, the current Fords management team of Dave Wheelan, Gloria Payge and Jo Dorman will remain with the business. Mr Wheelan has been promoted to operations director. He started his career as an electrician at Fords 34 years ago and has been its general manager for a decade.

“Fords has an outstanding reputation for quality and service in the local building services sector and, by combining with Clearvac, it will enable us to enhance our portfolio of services offered throughout the South West and beyond,” said Mr Wheelan.

Tim Ford said: “The idea of the combination of the two businesses to create a stronger platform for growth was very appealing to enable the expansion of the quality service offering of Fords and to employ more people locally.

“I am please that we have been able to accomplish a deal that will be good for our customers, Sidmouth and the staff at Fords.”

Clearvac Group services the cruise, oil and superyacht markets around the world with a range of marine services and has operations in Italy, Spain, Brazil and Thailand.

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