Parts Service Heritage
At The Start
The Partservice story is firmly grounded in the independent aftermarket and begins at the time the Austin
Metro had recently been launched and the last Ford Cortinas had only just been sold!
In 1982 Bruce Grinsted founded Partservice. He already had 17 years’ experience in the independent
aftermarket, working in an independent workshop and behind the counter
at a factors, which merged with another local business.
In the merged business, Bruce looked after garage equipment sales, tools and motorcycle parts. This
expertise proved valuable further down the line when he became Partco’s South Devon representative, before
moving up to become regional manager.
Partco was later sold, and as a result Bruce was made redundant. But the seeds for Partservice were already
sown as a Partco colleague, Derek Raistrick, had also been made redundant but was now working at AP as
Bruce had already established Partservice and was appointed as an AP distributor, which gave him a flying
start with his new business and set the standard for stocking only superior-quality brand names.
Building on the idea that the independent aftermarket is very much a people business, Bruce went on the
road to tell workshops about the Partservice offering: initially, he had to overcome the fact that he was now
at the helm of his own company, rather than representing Partco.
Many miles on Devon roads and many workshop visits gradually paid off, and it wasn’t long before Partservice
was firmly established in workshop owners’ minds as THE factor to be doing business with.
Excellence of service and product has always been something that Partservice have looked to offer their
customers. Numerous nominations and awards reflect the efforts that the company has made in this respect,
and Partservice are justifiably proud of having been awarded the honour of being UK Factor of the Year, by
both Autotrade and Motor Trader magazines – as well as being ADF Distributors of Excellence on no less
than three occasions.
Partservice is proud to be a founder member of the Parts Distribution Partnership (PDP), one of the UK’s
leading factor groups. PDP’s purchasing power allows Partservice to complement its outstanding level of
individual support with the keenest of prices, offering both for the benefit of its customers.
Since the company started in 1982, Partservice has been constantly expanding. Now there are
five branches (Exeter, Honiton, Newton Abbot, Seaton and Sidmouth) with Head Office located at the Exeter
branch. The Exeter facility now covers some 20,000 square feet – which includes three recently
added mezzanine floors – and the branch has also recently undergone a substantial refurbishment
of its shop area.
At the same time, the company has further sharpened its outward facing presence, with new
signage throughout and a completely redesigned website. The website has also allowed
Partservice to access a wider market and the company now services businesses as far afield as
Australia and the Ascension Islands. “From enquiries through the website, we have sent parts to,
Hong Kong, to NATO forces in Kosovo and we even supplied runway lights for an airport in
Namibia!” says Bruce.
The Grinsted name is still strong – Bruce’s son Steve is now Partservice MD. Steve joined the
business straight from school in 1984. Starting at the bottom, in ‘Goods Inwards’, Steve has
worked his way up through the company. “I can truly say that I know every aspect of what the
company does,” explains Steve. “When I first started at Partservice, I even had to identify old core
by photos! Having determined that I had a talent for sales, I was sent out onto the road, aged 17,
and from there moved into the phone sales operation and then into a role managing Key Parts for
With Bruce and Steve both driving the company forward, expansion has come about through
buying existing factoring businesses. Bruce says that organic growth has benefited both
Partservice’s business and the independent workshops the company serves.
The day to day running of the company is now very much in Steve Grinsted’s hands. “I was made
a Director in the mid 1990s and have been Partservice MD for five years,” he continues. “Bruce is
a great guiding force and is always there for advice. Partservice has grown and continues to grow,
and I am very proud of what we are today.”
The company is also justifiably proud of the working atmosphere that has always been part of the
company’s make-up. Staff retention is exceptionally high – once someone joins Partservice they tend
to stay for a long time, and that strengthens the working relationship.
“If you work for a national factor, it’s just a job – but we’re a family,” explains Steve. “Bruce and
I are often “agony aunts” – it’s just part of what we do - and the garage (customer) is like our
Today, Partservice covers most of Devon and contact is maintained by four representatives, who
keep workshops informed about the latest deals and new-to range part numbers. “Our business is
all about parts, but it’s also about the service we offer,” Steve says. “We try our best and we care
about our customers.”
The Partservice ethos of putting customers first keeps the whole team firmly on the ball and
competition from other factors remains stiff. But the working relationships between Partservice staff
and workshops are second-to-none, and aren’t bettered by rival factors.
“When the phone rings, we usually recognise the voice” continues Steve, “and in many cases we
can instantly name the person on the other end of the phone. Many are friends – but whoever they
are, we will always put ourselves out to help them.”
A fleet of 27 vans ensures workshops receive parts deliveries when they’re needed, five-and-a-half
days a week.
Outside of work, Partservice sponsor motor sport competitors in both historic and modern rallying,
as well as speedway. Bruce and Steve are both keen motor sport lovers and Bruce used to
compete, so he’s aware just how valuable some support is.