The north of Scotland’s leading private hire coach operator has appointed a new engineering director to oversee its in-house maintenance and strengthen training opportunities for apprentices.
Calum Mcgregor has returned to D&E Coaches after a four year absence, having previously been the firm’s workshop manager.
Bringing with him 40 years of experience in the bus and coach industry, he will oversee all engineering functions and hold ultimate responsibility for the upkeep and roadworthiness of the 62-strong fleet of coaches and minibuses.
“Coming back to D&E Coaches is like being welcomed back from a long trip by your family.
“The majority of the people I worked with previously are still here in the business, which says a lot about the working environment.
“It was an easy decision to make.
“Donald (Mathieson, D&E Coaches owner) is a great boss, and we work in a very similar way.
“I’m looking forward to working with the team again to maintain the high standard of service that D&E Coaches is known for.”
Calum’s appointment also cements the firm’s commitment to providing the best learning environment for young people entering into the mechanical engineering trade.
“We currently have two apprentices in the workshop, with a third joining us this month.
“Since I’ve been back, I’ve spoken to them all and can’t fault their attitude – they arrive every morning ready to learn and to play their part in maintaining the fleet.
“Having apprentices allows us to safeguard the future of the business, ensuring that there is fresh engineering talent here in the Highlands to keep maintaining our fleet for years to come.
“Mixing formal training courses down south with hands-on experience here in the workshop – where they can ask questions of time-served mechanics – provides a really strong grounding for them.”
Amy Nicholson, director at D&E Coaches, added:
“We’re delighted to welcome Calum back to D&E Coaches.
“We know that he is the best person to ensure our fleet is well maintained – and that our apprentices are getting the hands-on learning experiences they need to thrive.”
Scott Campbell (19) has been an apprentice with D&E Coaches since 2019.
Alongside his apprenticeship, he has earned his bus driving licence with the firm – and was named Young Employee of the Year at the Highland Business Awards in 2021 for his work ethic, teamwork and dedication to training.
“There’s a great atmosphere at D&E Coaches, and there’s a lot to learn from different people with different skills.
“Because of the wide range of vehicles – in age, manufacturer and model – you get a really wide range of experiences.
“Apprenticeships are great for people who maybe aren’t that academic.
“You’re a lot more hands on than you would be in a classroom or an office.
“The team here at D&E Coaches has been really supportive and helped me get on, despite having some of my apprenticeship during the pandemic.”
D&E Coaches’ apprenticeships are delivered in partnership with GTG Training.
Account manager Mhairian Wilson said:
“It can be difficult to find time-served mechanics, but by training people of all ages in related trades we can ensure that there’s a strong future for the coach industry going forward.
“During their three years training, apprentices join us down in Glasgow to learn in our custom-built heavy and bus centre, as well as having assessors visit them on site in the Highlands to monitor their progress.
“The D&E apprentices are doing really well – they’re all flourishing.”
As a family-run business, this dedication to fostering young talent – and giving people from the local community a step up – is at the heart of D&E Coaches.
Amy Nicholson concluded:
“From time in the workshop to the correct way to fill out paperwork, the apprentices will hugely benefit from the experience of Calum and the whole engineering team.
“Our mechanics know everything there is about the latest technologies – but they’re old school at heart.
“If one of the apprentices comes into the office asking for a paperclip, I know it’s because of a time-tested trick one of their mentors has passed on to them.
“We firmly believe that investing in young people in our community is the best way to retain talent in the Highlands, and develop new workplace skills.
“Our apprentices are all offered full-time roles once they complete their training, ensuring that highly sought-after skills remain in the region.”
D&E Coaches is the largest private hire coach and minibus operator in the north of Scotland, providing transport solutions to the Highlands for over 25 years.
The award-winning transport firm specialises in contract and private hire, business hire, event transport, school bus runs and airport transfers.
D&E Coaches also operates the Inverness City Sightseeing service alongside D&E Tours, which provides tourists with the opportunity to visit sights across the Highlands, including Loch Ness.