The history of
Arrow Self Drive

  1. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  2. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  3. 100 vehicles on fleet

  4. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  5. Became part of United Rentals System

  6. Open Bradford depot

  7. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  8. James takes a management role

  9. 500 vehicles on fleet

  10. Open Wakefield depot

  11. Open Knaresborough depot

  12. Open Hull depot

  13. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  14. Open Barnsley depot

  15. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  16. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  17. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  18. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  19. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  20. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  21. 100 vehicles on fleet

  22. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  23. Became part of United Rentals System

  24. Open Bradford depot

  25. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  26. James takes a management role

  27. 500 vehicles on fleet

  28. Open Wakefield depot

  29. Open Knaresborough depot

  30. Open Hull depot

  31. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  32. Open Barnsley depot

  33. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  34. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  35. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  36. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  37. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  38. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  39. 100 vehicles on fleet

  40. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  41. Became part of United Rentals System

  42. Open Bradford depot

  43. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  44. James takes a management role

  45. 500 vehicles on fleet

  46. Open Wakefield depot

  47. Open Knaresborough depot

  48. Open Hull depot

  49. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  50. Open Barnsley depot

  51. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  52. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  53. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  54. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  55. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  56. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  57. 100 vehicles on fleet

  58. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  59. Became part of United Rentals System

  60. Open Bradford depot

  61. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  62. James takes a management role

  63. 500 vehicles on fleet

  64. Open Wakefield depot

  65. Open Knaresborough depot

  66. Open Hull depot

  67. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  68. Open Barnsley depot

  69. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  70. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  71. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  72. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  73. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  74. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  75. 100 vehicles on fleet

  76. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  77. Became part of United Rentals System

  78. Open Bradford depot

  79. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  80. James takes a management role

  81. 500 vehicles on fleet

  82. Open Wakefield depot

  83. Open Knaresborough depot

  84. Open Hull depot

  85. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  86. Open Barnsley depot

  87. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  88. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  89. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  90. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  91. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  92. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  93. 100 vehicles on fleet

  94. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  95. Became part of United Rentals System

  96. Open Bradford depot

  97. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  98. James takes a management role

  99. 500 vehicles on fleet

  100. Open Wakefield depot

  101. Open Knaresborough depot

  102. Open Hull depot

  103. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  104. Open Barnsley depot

  105. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  106. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  107. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  108. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  109. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  110. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  111. 100 vehicles on fleet

  112. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  113. Became part of United Rentals System

  114. Open Bradford depot

  115. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  116. James takes a management role

  117. 500 vehicles on fleet

  118. Open Wakefield depot

  119. Open Knaresborough depot

  120. Open Hull depot

  121. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  122. Open Barnsley depot

  123. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  124. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  125. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  126. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  127. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  128. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  129. 100 vehicles on fleet

  130. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  131. Became part of United Rentals System

  132. Open Bradford depot

  133. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  134. James takes a management role

  135. 500 vehicles on fleet

  136. Open Wakefield depot

  137. Open Knaresborough depot

  138. Open Hull depot

  139. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  140. Open Barnsley depot

  141. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  142. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  143. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  144. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  145. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  146. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  147. 100 vehicles on fleet

  148. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  149. Became part of United Rentals System

  150. Open Bradford depot

  151. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  152. James takes a management role

  153. 500 vehicles on fleet

  154. Open Wakefield depot

  155. Open Knaresborough depot

  156. Open Hull depot

  157. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  158. Open Barnsley depot

  159. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  160. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  161. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  162. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

  163. Register new company Arrow Commericals Ltd

  164. Start trading as Arrow Self Drive from 333 Manchester Road

  165. 100 vehicles on fleet

  166. James starts working weekends at 12 years old

  167. Became part of United Rentals System

  168. Open Bradford depot

  169. Move Huddersfield to current site in Linthwate

  170. James takes a management role

  171. 500 vehicles on fleet

  172. Open Wakefield depot

  173. Open Knaresborough depot

  174. Open Hull depot

  175. 1000 vehicles on fleet

  176. Open Barnsley depot

  177. James becomes MD,
    Chris Taylor semi-retires

    Open
    Leeds depot

    Open
    Sheffield depot

  178. Recieve ISO: 9001 : 2001 status

  179. 2000 vehicles on fleet

  180. Recieve newly revised standard ISO: 9001 : 2015 status

From humble beginnings 

Arrow Self Drive has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings as Arrow Commercial Centre with a start up budget of £16,000 and a stock of three vans. 

Partners Chris Taylor and Robert Hill initially began selling commercial vehicles to local businesses from a garage on Manchester Road in Huddersfield. Robert had previously worked for the Ford Dealership Group and had some experience of the relatively new concept of ‘leasing’ commercial vehicles. The trend was gaining popularity as customers saw the advantage of having an all inclusive fixed cost monthly package.

Robert explains how they came up with a name for the business, “At the time the majority of people found your business by looking in the Yellow Pages book. We wanted to call the company a name beginning with ‘A’ so we would be first to be found in our section. ‘Arrow’ implied moving forward and began with an ‘A’ and so seemed like a fair name to us. It wasn’t rocket science or clever branding, just common sense. I remember the first week that the Yellow Pages went into circulation, our phones were ringing off the hook, it was like someone had just turned them on.”

In those early days car salesmen scribbled agreements on the back of cigarette packets and contracts were sealed with a vice like handshake. Health and safety was a new term on the block and maintenance was limited to an oil check and a good wash. But Arrow Self Drive tried to set better standards and always aimed to be transparent and flexible with their customers, a value that continues today. 

Early Days

The rentals side of the company expanded quickly and within a couple of years the hire and lease of vehicles had overtaken the sales side. By 1991 the Huddersfield depot had over 100 vehicles on hire.

Robert says, “We started working with small local businesses such as Northern Dyers, Stuart Best, Barfit, Anderson and Healey, King Scientific and Crowther and Shaw. As those companies grew so did we, and many of them are still our customers today. Over the years we have seen many businesses flourish, we have seen their children born and families develop with many of them becoming firm friends as well as valued customers. Distinct Disposables is another company we have developed a great relationship with, a great business with proud roots. And suppliers too; Northern Commercials for instance, have been invaluable partners supplying us with vehicles since those early days. We have always tried to give start ups and small businesses a helping hand by being flexible and fair, an approach which has reaped dividends for us and helped us retain such strong relationships with our customers.”

In 1992 the recession hit and there was a noticeable decline in vehicle sales. However, there was a huge appetite for self drive hire and the company began to focus their efforts onto the rental side of the business. Arrow stopped buying vans to sell and instead began selling from their own expanding rentals fleet. 

Arrow Self Drive emerged from the recession triumphant.  The Company bought the old bus station site in Linthwaite as a storage space and new service depot. It would be another five years before they moved lock stock and barrel up to the new site and into the purpose built office where the company’s headquarters and main depot sit today. 

In 1994 Arrow branched out and set up a new depot in rented premises in Bradford, a temporary site until they eventually found and bought the existing site near Odsal Top in Bradford in 1995.

Branching Out

In 2001 Robert’s son James began to take a leading role in the Company. James had started working for his dad aged just eight years old, cleaning and odd jobbing. By the time he was 12 he was working every weekend and in every holiday. At 14 James was working on the rentals desk, hiring out vehicles and dealing with customers. Aged 18 he left to study for a degree in Hull but still made the journey back home every three weeks to cover the weekend shift in the Bradford depot. Following his graduation in Business Studies, James returned to work in sales until he eventually gained his place on the management team.

James recalls, “I learnt each and every aspect of the business and not everything came easily. I remember one occasion when I had a lady trying to hire a van. She was in her forties and accompanied by a young man of 20 of the same surname whom she said she wanted to drive the hire vehicle. I tried to explain our age limit policy for drivers, saying “I am sorry madam but your son is too young to drive.” To which she replied, “Excuse me! He is not my son he’s my husband!” I learnt from then not to make assumptions about our customers.”

In 2002 further expansion came when James spotted an opportunity in Wakefield and Arrow Self Drive opened it’s third depot. At first the company operated from a small rented site in Thornes and then when the right property arose, bought a new bigger 2 acre site in Caldervale Road. Once again, a purpose built depot was erected, workshops created and Wakefield depot developed under James’ leadership.

Knaresborough was the next depot to open in 2003, followed by a temporary site in Hull in April 2005 which later relocated to Reservoir Road in July 2008.  Steady expansion continued when Barnsley opened in 2008 and finally Leeds and Sheffield in 2013.

Another recession in 2008 heralded a hard year for the Company; difficult decisions had to be made, stock had to be paired down and belts tightened but within eighteen months the fog had cleared and business improved.

Thirty years on, after working his way up the ranks the old fashioned way, James Hill, son of founder Robert, is now the Managing Director of Arrow Self Drive, leading a team of over 80 employees across it’s eight Yorkshire depots.

Since he took control of the reins, James has strived to improve processes and systems, develop training and staff development programmes, becoming more professional, more structured and improving on the work that Robert and Chris began.

Recent Years

In 2014 the Company invested substantial time and resources into overhauling it’s business practices to meet the existing ISO 9001:2008 Standard. Only 18 months later and they became one of the first companies in the UK to achieve the revised ISO 9001:2015 quality management systems standard. The Standard is based on a number of quality management principles including strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management and the process approach and continual improvement. Using ISO 9001:2008 helps ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services, which in turn brings many business benefits including winning and retaining business, reducing mistakes, increasing efficiency, improving productivity and ultimately driving up profits.

Both Leeds and Sheffield have relocated to more strategically placed premises that are better suited to servicing an increasing portfolio of clients and other recent improvements have been made to branding and the company website.

Staff retension is high at Arrow Self Drive and the family theme continues with two sets of brothers as part of the current team. Many of the technicians started with the Company as apprentices and are still working for Arrow today.

Regional Workshop Manager Tony Dawson began as a 16 year old apprentice in 1993 and now controls the servicing for four depots and is one of the two main people handling all the breakdown and recoveries. Tony has an amazing memory. He remembers vehicles as though they were his friends and can recount the registration numbers of vans and cars going back years. He remembers our first recovery truck, an F reg Mercedes 814. He remembers when the Company celebrated it’s 500th vehicle on fleet, a burgundy short wheel base Transit van. He recalls, “ The Examiner did a piece on it featuring Chris Taylor and Emley manager Ronnie Glavin. We had branded it up for Emley Football Club because that year they made it to Wembley. Again, when England reached the final of the Euros I was featured in a photo with red and white vans.” 

Through personal recommendation and a focus on personal service, Arrow Self Drive is a proud independent family run business. As the Company approaches it’s 30th anniversary Arrow Self Drive still aims for continued but controlled growth into the future but will always remain focused on providing the best in quality and service to the Yorkshire business and domestic community.

Depots throughout Yorkshire