Heritage Commercials

SANDBACH SUN AND SHADOWS

ERF began life in 1933 in the yard of Sandbach bodybuilders JH Jennings. Initial success led to the establishment of its own factory, Sun Works, supposedly named because all good things come from the sun. Nearly 70 years later, the shadows fell.

In 2000, MAN took the business over, and closed Sun Works down.

MAN subsequently uncovered a massive £multimillion blackhole in ERF’s accounts. What had been presented as a profitable business with assets of £25 million was actually insolvent to the tune of £70 million. Shady accounting indeed.

Until its acquisition by Western Star in 1996, ERF had the distinction of being the last independent British-owned commercial vehicle make.

In 2000, short-term parent Western Star was acquired from its Canadian owners by the North American Freightliner arm of Mercedes-Benz group Daimler AG. Almost immediately, ERF was deemed surplus to requirements – and sold on to MAN.

Litigation following the discovery of the accounting fraud finally concluded in 2009. Result: Daimler Trucks North America paid MAN a staggering £250 million in compensation. Law suit concluded, the ERF brand was killed off. MAN switched production to Middlewich, but closed operations down in 2002. ERFs became badge-engineered imports.

Corporate machinations were also behind the birth of ERF, causing founder Edwin Richard Foden’s split with the family’s eponymous truck manufacturer.

Edwin – known as ‘ER’ – had spent his working life with Foden. His father was Foden’s founder (also called Edwin).

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