Here at Pro-tec, we’ve been manufacturing and designing bespoke vehicle covers since our inception in 1996. We have traditionally focussed on fitted covers for caravans and motorhomes but behind the scenes, we have had our finger in the car cover market for quite some time. We’ve even been asked to produce covers for famous petrol-heads, including Jamie Oliver and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai!
At Christmas time 2016, we appointed a new MD, Paul Smith. As you would expect from a new MD, Paul has ideas of his own and a clear vision of the direction he wants Pro-tec to take in the future. Top of the range, bespoke car covers, are very definitely included in this vision.
Paul has approximately 20 years’ experience of manufacturing tailor-made vehicle covers and has the added benefit of having worked his way up through the ranks. Starting out at the very bottom all those years ago, Paul has done everything from cutting fabric to making deliveries. You’d be hard pushed to find someone who knows the processes involved in the manufacture of high-end, protective car covers better than Mr. Smith.
MD Paul Smith creates a custom car cover pattern for this Volvo
As well as his own expertise, since taking the helm at Pro-tec, Paul has been busily rounding up some of the best talent in the cover production arena. Since Christmas 2016, we have appointed (amongst others) a new Production Manager to ensure that work passes smoothly through our factory, a new CAD Manager to take vehicle measurements and patterns and convert them to a digital format and a couple of new machinists to assemble covers to the highest possible standard. All of these appointments have been made to enhance the standard of products we manufacture and between them, have added a staggering 100+ years’ experience to the Pro-tec arsenal.
Beki, our CAD Manager and Matt, our Production Manager
Craftsmanship and tradition are at the heart of everything we do here at Pro-tec. We are a bespoke cover manufacturer after all and the level of fit that we require of our covers can not be achieved by cutting corners. The process of making a custom car cover is not far removed from the practices employed by an artisan tailor, creating a bespoke suit.
As you can see, the level of fit we aim to achieve is quite exacting.
The tailoring process begins when cotton fabric is laid over the surface of the car to be covered. We work with cotton fabric at this stage because it is light and flexible enough so that it clings to every contour of the vehicle beneath. Painstakingly, the cotton is trimmed and pinned and gradually, the beginnings of the finished cover creep into view as panels and seams are added and moulded to the perfect shape, until it fits the car like a second skin. We continue this process until we have exactly half of the car covered and the pattern heads back to our factory to be prepped. At the moment, we are training an apprentice in the tailoring skills required to produce such a bespoke item; Elisha takes the cotton template that was created on the car and translates it to a template for hand-cutting and also to a digital file to be cut on an automated CNC machine.
Our apprentice, Elisha, creating a pattern for this Jaguar XJ8
BMW M3 Pattern
Our MD, Paul, working on an Aston Martin pattern.
From the prepped pattern, we cut the 2 side panels, the centre panel, a front and back panel and the wing mirrors. The individual pieces are bundled together and passed from the cutting department to the sewing department, to be assembled into the finished cover. We then double check every aspect of the fit of the cover by taking it for a sample fitting on the car we originally took the pattern from. This is much like the first fitting of a bespoke suit or wedding dress, where we check the fit, the seams, the piping, the mirrors etc to make sure that cover has the quality and style to meet our exacting standards. If we need to make any amendments, this is the stage to iron out any creases but our design team have pretty much got the pattern process down to a fine art and amendments are rare.
An indoor car cover being sewn together.
A couple of fine adjustments being made to a sample cover.
The completed cover is now ready to be passed to our QC and Dispatch team, where it will go through a finger-tip inspection prior to being sent via DPD next day delivery service.
Our outdoor car covers are fabricated from the same material we have been making caravan covers from for years. It’s a purpose designed, three-layer polymer, which has been engineered to be highly breathable, waterproof to a hydrostatic head rating of 1000 and guaranteed not to scratch. Our indoor covers are a heavy-grade protective fleece. Soft to the touch and breathable, they are thick enough to save your car from any accidental dings or scrapes while it is garaged, while keeping out air-borne dust particles. Next time you think protection, think Pro-tec. Give us a call on 01274 780088 to discuss your car cover requirements.
A warm Pro-tec welcome to new-starter, Chris.
Chris Birts has recently been appointed to our Cutting Department. Our Cutters carry out the first stages of the production process and are responsible for either hand-cutting your covers, or operating the state-of-the-art CNC machines which digitally map and cut the individual pieces required. Although fabric cutting is new to Chris, his engineering background has ensured that he has quickly come up to speed with our practices and is already proving to be a valuable member of the team.
Welcome to the Pro-tec Family, Chris.
As you may have heard, we have recently launched a new type of caravan towing protector, the Pro-tec Towing Jacket. Keen caravanner and blogger, Barry Goulding, has got his hands on one and his first-look review has been kindly published on the fantastic caravan blog, GetYourLegsDown. We've republished it here for our readers.
There are many things that I love about caravanning - too many to mention at this juncture and most have been covered in various Vlogs, Blogs & other media outlets anyway so I won't waste your time listing them now.
What I am going to write about is a couple of things l don't like. The first one is cleaning the outside of the caravan.
I take care of the interior of my caravan, an Elddis Avante 550 more than I do my home. I instantly wash up after we have eaten, I dust and vacuum daily, in fact I have made a rod for my own back because my other half expects me to have the same enthusiasm for domestic chores at home now but we won't go into that. Anyhow, I digress, it's the exterior of our beloved 'van that causes some consternation.
Don't get me wrong, I love it to be a dazzling example to other people on the road, I am very proud of my caravan, but cleaning it is so frustrating. You can spend a couple of hours washing, rinsing and waxing it before your short weekend break but if the conditions are against you by the time you arrive at your chosen destination it can look like this.
Thank you Nigel Hutson for allowing me to show the worst our roads can do to our home from homes.
The weather this last week is a prime example, the Beast from the East conspired with Storm Emma to conjure up a torrid time for the nation. Many parts of the country were cut off for a short while and lot's of commuters were trapped on the Motorways and Highways for many hours.
Fortunately the Beast & Emma have absconded but left us with some very messy roads, roads that will cause havoc with your recently cleaned vehicle.
If you are like me you will have given your caravan a clean down before embarking on your latest outing, however, with the recent weather your pride and joy could end up looking like poor Nigel's unit following a trip to York.
So, the question is how do we avoid this and the answer is a towing cover. That brings me to the second thing I have not liked so far in my caravanning journey so to speak. This little addition to your caravanning kit can not only protect your 'van from the perils of a dirty road or muddy campsite but it also has the added advantage of protecting the windows from stones and other debris thrown up from the ground.
So, I set out to purchase one and being a typical Yorkshireman looking for a bargain I bought a second hand one that was a few years old but still served it's purpose. However, putting it on the caravan was a right royal pain in the neck. I had to insert about twelve separate ties in each awning rail then fold the cover up from the bottom and tension each tie separately, something that really needed two people and was time consuming, so as you might imagine, after a short while I stopped using it and we were back to square one, until now......
Let me introduce you to the Brand New Pro-tec Towing Jacket. The Towing Jacket was presented to the caravanning world at the recent Caravan and Motorhome show at the NEC and by all accounts it has been received well by the community.
So, what is different? Well, firstly, it is a one person operation, it is unbelievably easy to attach to your caravan. The cover is in two parts, unsurprisingly a left and a right side. Slide the left side into the left awning channel.
Then the right side of the jacket into the right awning rail. You can do it the other way around if you so desire, we are very easy going us Yorkshire folk!
Once both sides are inserted into their appropriate rail, simply zip the two sides together and there you have it. Well almost, there are two hooks on each side of the jacket that you attach to the fascia of your caravan and a strap that you pass under the A-Frame to secure it. And that is literally that. It will take you two minutes, probably less with practice. It's so simple, let's face it,it has to be for people like me:
But that's not all. With most other towing covers, once it is on you can't get to the front locker box, not easily anyway, so fingers crossed you haven't absentmindedly forgot anything important like your towing mirrors in there. Ahem. However, with the Pro-tec jacket you don't need to worry about that because guess what? You can just pull the zip up and get access to the locker.
The jacket has two toggles at the top of each corner allowing you to fasten the cover so it doesn't impede you when you are doing what it is you are doing in the locker.
It doesn't end there. There may be some reason that during your journey you need to stop, maybe you are on a tour on the continent, France maybe and you stop in an Aire possibly and want a coffee or meal in your caravan. Do you take off the cover or put up with it obscuring any view, the chances are with all the shenanigans of putting it on you won't want to take it off. Well, with the Pro-tec Towing Jacket you don't have to.
All that is required is to pull down the zip from the top down to the desired level and you have a view again. The zips are kept in place with a Velcro cover, obviously I have not put these to the test yet, that observation will come later this month.
As you may have spotted there are a couple of other benefits to the towing jacket I haven't yet mentioned. On the photo above you can see at the bottom left and bottom right of the cover are two inlets that allow your lights to be seen, don't worry, they have a soft plastic cover so no chance of the dirt getting in there.
Also you may have noticed the two pockets on either side of the cover about half way up, the more astute will have gathered that these allow you access to the handles.
So to summarise my first impressions:
The Towing Jacket is lightweight and packs up into a neat little bag, handy for storage.
It is available in blue (like mine) or green, I have to be honest, I am not sure if they are available in other colours. The wife preferred blue because our colour scheme in the van is blue!
For me the main benefit is that it can be fitted quickly and is a one person task. That minute or two needed to fit it can save you time ( not having to clean the van as often) and money ( preventing damage to windows or body from stones etc).
Access to handles, windows or the locker is no issue.
So, we now have to put it to the road test, which, as I have mentioned I will be doing in a couple of weeks.
So far though, the Pro-tec Towing Jacket has ticked all the boxes and I haven't found any negatives yet (which has surprised my wife).
If you have got this far, thank you for reading this blog, it is appreciated and if anyone does have any questions they want to ask me regarding the jacket, I am on twitter @tyke34.
Check out the Towing Jacket HERE.