First UK Polaris Hearse Is Hand-Signed During Build By Southern Co-op

When Southern Co-op made the decision to order a brand-new Polaris hearse, the team already knew it was a first for the UK funeral industry. What co-operative funeral colleagues didn’t know is quite how unique the process would become – from flying out to the Pilato factory to see their car in build, to signing the inside of the vehicle and installing a personalised plaque inside the bonnet. 

Southern Co-op Polaris Delivery Jarrod Turner Kevin Smith Matt Turner

Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative with more than 50 funeral branches across the south of England. Matt Turner from Southern Co-op told us about the process of becoming a Polaris owner.

“Some of our existing fleet were coming to the end of their life cycle with us,” he said, “and we were looking at the various options available in the market. We operate across a large and busy region, and our vehicles need to be reliable. But we also like our ceremonial vehicles to look the part – stylish and different, without losing any of the tradition and etiquette.”

Wow-Factor Hearse With Design Style

“We really needed a high end hearse that would wow our clients, and be in keeping with the high end service we are known for. Once I saw the Polaris, I knew it was exactly what we wanted. The latest Mercedes, with the design style of Pilato, created the perfect match for our company.”

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After contacting Superior UK (official partners and distributors of Pilato to the UK), Matt felt even more certain that the Polaris was the right decision.

“We were captivated by the Pilato Polaris. It has such a modern and stunning design that we knew we wanted it as an eye-catching part of our fleet.”

Kevin Smith from Superior UK visited Southern Co-op to talk to Matt and his colleague Claire McGinty about the Polaris hearse, helping Matt and Claire design their perfect spec and finish.

“We have a very close working relationship with Pilato,” explained Kevin. “I visit the Pilato factory several times a year, and I know these cars inside out. That level of knowledge means I can help our customers make decisions almost as if their vehicle was in front of us.”

Before long, the vehicle would in fact be in front of them, when Matt and Claire received a surprise invitation to see their Polaris being built at the Pilato factory in Italy.

Co-op and Superior at Pilato factory

Seeing Their Vehicle During The Build Process

“We have never had the opportunity to see one of our hearses mid production,” said Matt, “so we jumped at the opportunity to head out to the factory. Being able to see the hearse – plus others that were further down the line – helped us visualise the end result far better than a picture ever could. We spent time talking with the Pilato team working on our hearse to explain our vision. It was an amazing experience.”

Matt and Claire were even able to personalise some of the design, as Kevin from Superior UK explained.

“During their visit to the Pilato factory, Claire and Matt secretly signed the inside of the hearse during the build process,” he said, “and we installed a little plaque under the bonnet dedicating the vehicle to its new owner.” 

Matt Turner Claire McGinty Southern Co-op signing car at Pilato factory

Adding A Personal Touch

“It was so nice to be able to add a personal touch to the hearse by writing a little message inside,” said Matt. “We knew our team would find and read it when we took delivery – a really special touch.”

The finished vehicle was finished in Mercedes Tenorite grey metallic. The interior has lots of LED lighting, grey laminate decking, a black leather interior trim and white quilted stitching. Pilato installed some custom perspex window trims which allow for the discrete display of illuminated name plates. 

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Southern Co-op was the first to order a Polaris hearse, and the first to take delivery in the South of England.

“It’s great to get our hands on this amazing car,” said Matt. “It is everything that we had hoped it would be. Working with Superior and Pilato has been great. We really value the close relationship we have built up with Superior over the years, and look forward to continuing this for many years to come.”

Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative owned by its 140,000+ members. As well as food and funeral branches, it also runs two crematoria and a natural burial ground which reaffirm the co-operative’s sustainable business approach and commitment to providing a fair, fresh approach for all.

First UK Polaris Hearse Is Hand-Signed During Build By Southern Co-op is a blog from Superior UK. The main Superior UK website is here.

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William T Fraser & Son First In Highlands To Take Delivery Of PilatoMercedes Polaris 

William T Fraser & Son took delivery of their Polaris Mercedes hearse in July, they became one of the first funeral directors in the UK to run this stunning new design concept from Pilato.

Director Martin Fraser, who represents the third generation of this family business, explains why the Polaris gets a resounding thumbs-up from him and all his team.

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“We wanted to add a new hearse to our existing fleet of a vintage Daimler and E Class Mercedes,” said Martin. “I started looking around and realised most modern hearses are quite unattractive. Why should we have to buy ugly hearses? Superior UK and Pilato offer something very different and exciting. Kevin came all the way from Berkshire to Inverness to talk to us about the Polaris.”

Kevin Smith from Superior UK was delighted to tell Martin and his family about the PilatoMercedes E-Class Polaris hearse, which is still new to the UK. It’s a modern take on traditional hearse design, with sleek lines and distinctive Polaris aesthetics. Large side glasses, a glass tailgate, and LED illumination give an incredible sense of space, with the high-tech specification taking this hearse to a new level.

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“Since that first long-distance visit to talk us through the options, Superior have continued to be a great help,” says Martin. “The ordering process was very smooth and we were able to personalise the specification, interior, and exterior. Greg from Superior was on hand right through to delivery day. I couldn’t be happier with the build quality, fit, and finish. It’s an absolutely stunning vehicle.”

Martin isn’t the only one who thinks the Polaris is the most eye-catching hearse around. Luckily, his whole team agree.

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“I did a blind test of all the hearses on the market,” Martin says. “I showed every member of staff a photo of all the cars we could have chosen, making sure to remove the vehicle names first. They all picked the Polaris, without knowing it was the car I was considering.”

Martin likes to keep ahead of the game, and he has the first Obsidian black Polaris in Scotland. It has already become the show stopper of the William T Fraser fleet.

William T Fraser Fleet

“People are coming up especially to see it,” says Martin, “and it’s received incredible feedback from families. The Polaris is one way of showing our dedication to bringing the best possible service to families.

“We are over the moon with the vehicle, and with the service from Superior UK. We are very proud to be one of the first funeral directors in the UK to take ownership of a Pilato hearse.”

William T Fraser & Son First In Highlands To Take Delivery Of PilatoMercedes Polaris is a blog post from Superior UK – the main Superior UK website is here.

High-Spec Vito On Display At NFE Finds New Home With Alan Greenwood & Sons 

An independent funeral director business with 31 funeral homes and chapels of rest needs a large fleet. But when Alan Greenwood attended this year’s NFE, he didn’t plan to leave with a new vehicle. He tells us why this new Vito caught his eye.

Greenwood new Vito

“We’re one of the largest true independents remaining in the UK,” says Alan, who runs Alan Greenwood & Sons. “We currently have more than 25 funeral homes across Surrey and South London, as you can imagine this means the business is always expanding and adapting. One of our greatest needs is having enough good quality, reliable fleet vehicles.”

Alan has come to Superior UK for ceremonial vehicles and private ambulances for over 15 years, and some of his first Superior vehicles are still in service.

“I’ve always done business with Kevin at Superior because his vehicles have always been great quality, and he looks after us very well,” says Alan. “We’ve had new vehicles from him, and he’s done repair and service work for us too. He’s a good man to deal with, and in this business that means a lot.”

Alan Greenwood with Kevin Smith Vito handover

Superior UK always have a large stand at the NFE, and this year was no different. Alan attended the show keen to see Superior’s vehicles, but had no intention of actually buying anything. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

“I may have had a G&T!” jokes Alan. “I wasn’t expecting to buy a vehicle at the NFE, but when the best in the business are there and you can physically look around the cars, it makes sense. I spotted the new Vito on Superior’s stand and knew it would be our next removal vehicle. It is a very high-spec vehicle, beautifully kitted out, and can double up as a hearse – which makes it even more of an attractive prospect.”

Alan’s new Mercedes Vito removal vehicle has a high level of specification, complete with air-conditioning, a reversing camera, and automatic transmission.”

Alan Greenwood with new Vito

“It’s everything you could need in a removal vehicle, and more,” explains Kevin Smith from Superior UK. “The specification is designed to accommodate the specific needs of a funeral director, making it a truly multi-purpose vehicle.

“The attention to detail and quality of finish, combined with its MPV-like appearance, means it is real for nursing homes and residential removals, replacing the need to operate both a removal van and an estate car or people carrier.

“Our Vito is ideal as a hearse for the morbidly obese or for low-cost funerals. We have also supplied our Vitos for repatriation use. It really is a great reliable all-rounder.”

Alan Greenwood & Sons took delivery of their new Vito in July and immediately put the vehicle to work across a busy region.

“We have chosen to go to Superior UK for our vehicles since buying our first limousine from Kevin in 2004,” says Alan. “We enjoy a friendly relationship and I know Kevin is only ever a phone call away. This latest vehicle is another example of the quality vehicles and great service we have always had. That’s why I stay with Superior.”

High-Spec Vito On Display At NFE Finds New Home With Alan Greenwood & Sons is a blog post from Superior UK Automotive – their main website is here – Superior UK website.

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors’s First Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Exceeds Expectations

Hywel Griffiths Delivery Vito 2

When Keith and Peter Griffiths decided to invest in a new removal vehicle, they knew they did not want anything resembling a van. After detailed talks with Superior UK Automotive, they took ownership of a stunning new Mercedes-Benz Vito which looks so good that it can operate as a multi-purpose vehicle. Keith Griffiths talks us through his high-spec Vito.

Griffiths Vito

“It was very important to us that our new vehicle didn’t look like a van,” said Keith, who represents the 4th generation of the Griffiths family. “Although the vehicle would primarily be used as a removal vehicle, we wanted something that looked good enough to be a hearse if needed.”

The company’s existing fleet vehicles are Ford Mk11s, but they had always been an admirer of Mercedes-Benz design. So Keith contacted Superior UK Automotive.

“It was the first time we had worked with the Griffiths family,” said Kevin Smith from Superior UK, “and it was a real pleasure to hear about their vision for a multi-purpose removal type vehicle. Keith wanted the appearance of a passenger vehicle, with the practicalities of a van. I was excited to introduce him to the idea of a Vito, as I knew it could surpass his expectations.”

After some weeks of talks, a detailed specification was agreed.

Griffiths Vito Decking

“We have never liked the idea of a van that states it is a Private Ambulance,” said Keith. “Kevin understood exactly what we meant, and was very helpful. The finished vehicle is spectacular, we are very impressed.”

Hywel Griffiths’s Vito has a top quality exterior design, finished with a high-quality interior, making it ideal for home and hospital collections.

“I admit that I was always wary of this kind of vehicle, but our experience with Superior UK has completely changed my view,” said Keith. “Our Vito is so beautiful inside that it could pass as a hearse. We chose a burr walnut finish interior floor to ceiling, plus roof rails, chrome fittings on the sills, side steps, and alloy wheels. The high quality fittings and accessories to the interior really compliment the Mercedes-Benz exterior design.”

Brothers Peter and Keith, together with their children Rhodri, Lowri, Rhys and Euros are a tight-knit family business that was started in 1875. As 4th generation of this family firm, Keith prefers to deal with small companies. Superior UK Automotive are also a family business, with Kevin working alongside his father Peter. 

Hywel Griffiths Delivery Vito

“I immediately felt that Kevin understood the dynamic of a family business,” said Keith. “The communication and customer service was outstanding. We were always able to deal directly with him, and never had to wait for an answer.”

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors are a privately owned business based in Betws, near Ammanford in West Wales, and offers funeral services and monumental masonry with a bilingual service.

“My great-grandfather started this firm in 1875 and we are proud to see how it has grown,” said Keith. “My own Dad did 70 funerals a year, but we do around 400 now. Our fleet vehicles are an important part of our branding and the service levels we give. Superior UK are a great partner for us.”

Hywel Griffiths Funeral Directors’s First Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Exceeds Expectations is a post from the Superior UK blog. The main Superior UK website is here.

Superior UK Hosts FC Douch At Binz Factory in Germany

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It’s not often that you get to see how the vehicles you drive every day are built. But that’s exactly what happened when Jonathan Stretch from FC Douch & Sons (Funerals) Ltd in Dorset was invited to the Binz factory in Stuttgart, Germany.

The trip was part of Superior UK’s planned visit to Binz. Kevin Smith of Superior was travelling to Pilato in Italy and Binz in Germany to discuss customer requirements and get involved in the development of future products.

The Douch Family Funeral Directors have been customers of Superior for more than 10 years. In that time, Kevin has sourced and delivered all their funeral vehicles. With 8 branches across Dorset, Douch Family Funeral Directors run a large fleet of Binz and Mercedes Benz funeral vehicles and personal vehicles.
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As part of this very special customer visit, Jonathan Stretch from Douch Family Funeral Directors received a personal tour of the Binz factory. “It was a wonderful trip,” he said. “From the minute I landed, I had an informative, entertaining and amusing time. Everyone at Binz was welcoming and obviously very proud of everything they are doing at the factory.

“Having purchased many Mercedes Benz vehicles over the past 10 years, I was keen to see the actual build process. When Kevin at Superior said he could help facilitate this, I jumped at the chance! We are long serving customers of Superior and this just demonstrates Kevin’s genuine commitment to customer relationships.”

Jonathan was particularly keen to see the new E Class. “It was fascinating to see how the cars are built from the ground up,” he said. “We are already considering the new E Class as future hearses and limousines. Getting to see the vehicle in the factory gave us a new level of insight into the build quality.”
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During the visit, Kevin and Jonathan also enjoyed visiting the historic Mercedes-Benz museum at Stuttgart.

Kevin was delighted to have a role in hosting Douch Family Funeral Director at Binz. “We have enjoyed working with the Douch family over the past decade and it was a pleasure to host them,” he said. “We really enjoyed Jonathan’s company and appreciate him taking the time out to visit Binz.”

Superior UK Hosts FC Douch At Binz Factory in Germany is a post from the Superior Automotive UK blog. The main funeral cars website is here.

It’s A Superior Surprise For Thomas Grieve & Son

When Anthony Grieve arrived at work on 18th November, he was presented with a huge surprise from his father Bill Grieve: a brand-new Binz hearse and limousine to mark the handover of business from father to son.

WP_20151117_15_16_04_ProUnknown to him, his father Bill had been working away behind the scenes with the help of Kevin Smith at Superior UK to arrange purchase and delivery of two bespoke vehicles. After 28 years running Thomas Grieve & Son, Bill plans to retire next year. What better way to begin the handover than with two shiny new cars, custom-built to the Grieve family’s exact specifications.

The Mercedes hearse and limousine vehicles were manufactured at Binz in Germany and delivered to Thomas Grieve & Son’s West Lothian offices by Superior UK, Binz’s UK partner.

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Like the rest of the firm’s fleet, the two new vehicles are stunning Palladium Grey which demonstrates Grieve’s modern, forward-thinking mindset. “We are in the process of upgrading our entire fleet to matching Palladium Grey Binz Mercedes vehicles,” said Bill Grieve. “As far as we are aware, we are the only funeral directors in the area that use this colour.”

Bill Grieve and his own father, Thomas, started the business in 1987 in Blackburn, West Lothian. The company is still based in Blackburn but has now grown, employing 15 members of staff across four locations, and offering chauffeur hire services. The happy recipient of the vehicles, Anthony Grieve, represents the third generation of this thriving and hard-working funeral firm.

“As soon as I saw the new cars in the yard, I realised what Dad had arranged,” said Anthony. “I was blown away by the surprise. The cars were put to work straight away and have been a huge asset to our fleet. My Dad and I have run the business tougher for the past eight years, and I’ll use the solid work-ethic he’s taught me to take the business forward when he retires.

“My own sons – the fourth generation – will join the business before too long. I hope these cars will still be in our fleet then, so I can in turn pass them down to my sons.”

The new hearse and limousine join Grieve’s existing fleet of two Binz hearses and limousines, and four Mercedes Binz family cars, all in the eye-catching Palladium Silver.

“This was a very special delivery of a hearse and limousine,” says Kevin Smith at Superior UK. “It was all arranged as a top secret gift from Bill Grieves to his son, and we were honoured to be a trusted part of the arrangements. The handover was very special!”

It’s A Superior Surprise For Thomas Grieve & Son is a post from the Superior Automotive UK blog. The main funeral cars website is here.

A Comfier Drive For Edwin Pounds With New-Style Vito Removal Vehicle

Edwin Pounds and Sons of Bradford have come to Superior UK for their fleet and family vehicles since 2004. Company Director (and fourth generation family member) Simon Broome tells us why loyalty, trust and longevity matter in ongoing supplier relationships.

“We initially went to Superior UK in 2004 because of their industry reputation,” he said. “Everything went so smoothly with that initial purchase – and with each of our three fleet purchases in the last 11 years – that we have no desire to look anywhere else for our vehicles. Like us, Superior UK are a family firm and they share our own values of communication, attention to detail, trust and integrity.”

vitoEdwin Pounds and Sons are now on their third full fleet from Superior UK, and last year took delivery of the new generation E Class hearse and limousine with their distinctive single headlamps, Sport style grille and panoramic glass roofs. Last year it became time to upgrade the existing Vito removal vehicle to a newer, more spacious model. With the help of Kevin Smith at Superior UK, they ordered a brand-new Vito 114 BlueTEC.

“We had been running the old shape Vito since 2012,” explained Simon, “but I began to think about replacing it after a long trip to Scotland on one of the hottest days of the year. The old vehicle had no air-conditioning. And the cab could feel cramped for me, since I’m pretty tall.”

The firm’s new Vito is the new 114 shape, with aluminium wheels, automatic drive, and of course air conditioning! Like its predecessor, it was custom-built to Simon’s specifications with the build overseen by Kevin Smith at Superior.

“The Superior Rise&Fall decking in Superior’s Vitos is a huge bonus,” said Simon, “making life a lot easier for us and making removals more dignified and professional. The new vehicle is a lot nicer to drive. It’s already a great replacement but I know it will really come into its own next Summer.”

Edwin Pounds and Sons was established in 1904 as a farm, coal business and carriage providers by Edwin Pound, Simon’s maternal great-grandfather, who added funeral work to the business in 1940. Edwin Pound and Sons is now run by Simon, with support from his family and the team, and occupies a large site which was rebuilt in 2009.

A Comfier Drive For Edwin Pounds With New-Style Vito Removal Vehicle is a post from the Superior Automotive UK blog. The main website is here