Like father, like son as man follows his dad to Wigan coachbuilding firm

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A man is following his paternal footsteps as he joins the same Wigan coachbuilding business where his father hand-crafted limousines and hearses for more than a quarter of a century.

Neil Carruthers, the newly appointed sales manager at Wilcox Limousines, reflects fondly on childhood memories and the youthful bewilderment the converted vehicles offered him when visiting his father at the Wilcox factory in Hindley Green — the same factory he now works at himself.

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Wilcox Limousines has now employed two generations of the Carruthers family, with Tony, who died in 2017, joining the business in 1982 as a specialist coachbuilder who took responsibility for the trim of hundreds of hearses and limousines.

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Tony Carruthers and son Neil Carruthers with two generations of the Wilcox familyTony Carruthers and son Neil Carruthers with two generations of the Wilcox family
Tony Carruthers and son Neil Carruthers with two generations of the Wilcox family

Now, his son Neil has started his own journey at Wilcox, being responsible for selling the vehicles his dad once built across the UK and even overseas.

Neil said: “My father, having worked here before, absolutely inspired me to apply for the job. As soon as I saw the job advertisement, I thought ‘this is fate’ and had to apply. My dad always spoke very fondly of the business and spent over 25 years there until he retired. He always spoke highly of the Wilcox family too, in addition to some of his colleagues, of which quite a number are still working here now.”

He has fond memories of his father’s career with the firm.

Neil said: “I remember on occasions my dad brought home limousines or a hearse that he had picked up or had to take somewhere. I remember climbing all over the limousine thinking ‘these cars are massive!’. Sadly, my dad passed away five years ago so won’t get to see me retracing his steps, but I’m sure he’s looking down with a smile on his face saying ‘you’ll never know as much about these cars as I do son’.”

Wilcox Limousines is run by second and third-generation family members and employs more than 70 people in Wigan and Northampton.

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Managing director Jade Wilcox said: “Having two generations of the same family working for us truly illuminates the family-run aspect of Wilcox Limousines. Over the years, we have provided over 400 jobs in Lancashire which have supported many families like Neil’s, and we will continue to do so. To us, family is everything and it brings us a great amount of pride to see Neil retracing the steps of his father. I am following in the footsteps of my own father and his father before him, so I understand the level of sentiment this will bring to Neil’s journey with us.”

Neil added: “It’s a family business with a family feel to it, so I can see why a number of the staff have worked here for 20 years plus, and I’m sure that’s the way my dad viewed it in order to work here for as long as he did.

"I have just finished my first month here, so I’m excited for the challenge and what the future holds for me. It also feels very nostalgic at the moment, talking to colleagues in the factory that worked with my dad.”