Most days, when we come into the office here at Marquis Court, it's very busy outside.
That's because Darren Burns and Darryl Laws are keeping Prudhoe's cars roadworthy. Words: Alan Sawyers...

The Marquis motor men – Darryl Laws, AW Autocare & Darren Burns, KD Burns

Darryl owns AW Autocare which specialises in MOTs, repairs and servicing, while Darren’s business, KD Burns, offers body shop services including resprays, damage repair and dent and scratch removal.

I’ve been lucky, or on one occasion you might say unlucky, enough to have taken my car to both workshops. Darryl and his team do my MOTs and Darren replaced a door on my car after I’d had an encounter with a council vehicle that ended badly for one of us. I spoke to both business owners to find out how things are going and what their future plans are. “We generate work for each other,” Darryl told me when I sense-checked my joint-interview idea and asked if he and Darren were competitors. He said: “We offer totally different services – what we do here is predominantly MOTs and servicing.”

Darren added: “What I do is mainly bodywork – repairs, resprays, modifications, bumps and scrapes, that sort of thing. “So when customers come to visit me for bodywork they see that they can also get their MOT or service done across the road with Darryl and vice versa.” Looking up at the signage above both businesses, AW Autocare and KD Burns, it’s not immediately clear that Darryl and Darren are their respective owners. “My business was originally owned by Andrew Waters,” Darryl said. “I bought the business in April 2019 when it was based at Princess Court just across the road from where we are now at Marquis Court. “The owner at the time retired and he had previously bought it from Andrew, so it’s been around for about 15 to 20 years.”

Darren said: “My business name is a little bit simpler to explain but it still causes confusion with customers as they try to guess my name from the signage. “My full name is Karl Darren Burns but I just go by Darren.” KD Burns is the longest-serving resident at Marquis Court, having been based here since 2011. Both business owners are being kept busy with a healthy flow of customers visiting on a daily basis. I asked them about their plans for the future. It seems, following the closure of Run Unlimited, two doors down from us and two doors down from AW Autocare, that Darryl has had his eye on the currently empty unit. “We’re looking to expand very soon and that unit would be the ideal place. Wherever we expand to we’ll definitely stay in Prudhoe as all of our customers are either from here or from Westerhope where I’m from. “Repeat customers keep us busy and we have an online booking system and SMS service that sends MOT and service reminders and lets everyone know when we have upcoming holidays, so it makes it so much more efficient for us and our customers.”

“Currently the business is me, my dad Rob and father-in-law Billy, who are both part time, but we’re definitely ready to expand and grow.” Darren added: “My business is just me and I’m happy as I am for now. I’m busy enough to keep me going on my own, though sometimes I am busy enough to need help in busy times or when I’m away. I suppose that’s a good problem to have.”

“We generate work for each other”