A Denby garage boss has been awarded the highest recognised qualification in the car industry worldwide.
Neil Cox, managing director of Geoff Cox at Derby Road, has gained an MSc in automotive dealer management after studying for three years with Loughborough University.
The masters-level award is the only one of its type in the UK and is thought to be the foremost academic qualification within the trade.
Neil said: “It’s been very hard work but I’m delighted to have got through with the support of my family.”
Since joining his father Geoff’s business in 1989, Neil said many of his skills had been learnt on the job.
Neil began helping his father Geoff, who started the business in 1967, and became managing director of the company in 2004.
However, he said the course gave him a chance to learn new skills which have benefited the business.
He continued: “Being a family business I had learned what what had been handed down,” said Neil.
“This course gave me an insight into theory, best practice from other retail industries and other important materials, all of which was new.”
Mr Cox started the course when the company took on the Ford franchise three years ago.
He studied via block release which allowed him to continue running the family business.
From 2006 the business has grown from an annual turnover of £1m to its current £5m, and the number of staff from three to 12.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Ben Horsnall, from Ilkeston, the first apprentice that the company has ever taken on, has just qualified as a Ford-trained mechanic after three years.
Ben completed his block release work at the Henry Ford College, which is also located at Loughborough University.
Established in 1967, the Geoff Cox family business has been trading for over 44 years.
Originally founded at Kilburn Tollbar, Derbyshire, and also at Ripley, they decided to develop the larger original site at Kilburn to concentrate building their identity as a major Midlands located Retail Car and Motorhome Centre.
From 1967 until 1990, the founder Geoff Cox operated as a sole trader and successfully established a reputation for a reliable supplier of family cars.
In 2011 the Ford Franchise was announced with the opening of a re-designed showroom and authorised Ford Repair and Workshop facilities.