Thursday, 10 May 2012

Last Day at Andantex

Monday 30th April 2012 was my last day of working at Andantex Ltd, before retiring (early!). After 23 years of running firstly Kinematic Ltd. with my colleague Terry Spencer until 2000, then merging with Andantex with Terry and then on my own as Managing Director from early 2007, after he retired, I have finally hung up my shirt and tie to prepare for the biggest adventure of my life!
Here's 'the team' on my last day (from left to right): Robert Trezise, (my friend from Solihull Mountaineering club, who I took on the do external sales for the South and West of the UK, Ireland and Scotland), Heidi Ames, our expert accountant, Martin Gill (our larger than life Workshop Manager, looking after everything that we receive and ship, all repairs and assembly and any other jobs we need doing), Paul Smith (Internal Sales, the first point of contact for phone calls and 'general dogsbody'. He's also very good at making tea!), there's me in that nice blue shirt and tie, Louise Holden (General Office Manager, handling credit control and general office running), Phil Spencer (my former colleague Terry Spencer's son and now taking over from me as Managing Director).

So how did I get here? Having left school in 1971 I started an apprenticeship with Wilmot Breeden in Tyseley, Birmingham, 4 days before my sixteenth birthday on a wage of £7.44 per week . After five years I graduated with an HNC in Mechanical Engineering, an Indentured Apprenticeship and a job as a press tool designer. I got married in 1977 and moved house and job to Warwick, working for Eagle Engineering, then Hestair Eagle, then Dennis Eagle, designing fire engines and refuse collectors. In 1978 I got a job with Powerdrive PSR in Leamington Spa (the PSR was named after the three directors: John Pigot, Harry Stott and George Robson). I worked for George, who was Technical Director, until 1987, before moving into sales, and subsequently leaving with Terry Spencer in 1989 to start Kinematic Ltd. from scratch.

Starting Kinematic was a big move for Terry and I, we both had mortgaged houses and two young children. I had Fiona (then 10) and Stuart (8), Terry had Phil (then 13) and Tim (15). We borrowed £20K each, by remortgaging our houses, invested £10K each in the business and then lived off the other £10K for the first year. We had one year to get the business on its feet and start paying ourselves, or it was back out trying to find a job!

Well, we did it, but it was tough! On the way, just as we started, my dad and Terry's dad both died, mine of the family hereditary problem of Lynch disease, making us prone to Colon Cancer (although we didn't know it at the time). In early 1992 my marriage fell apart, I gave everything away and moved back in with my mum for a while. Fiona and Stuart took it quite badly and for about a year my only contact with them was a phone call once a week in the morning, that was never answered. I knew they'd be sitting down to breakfast when I phoned so at least they knew I cared, even if I didn't speak to them.

After a year things got a bit more relaxed and I started to see the kids a bit. Eventually Stuart fell out with his mum and came to live with me in my modest house in Hall Green. I had joined Solihull Mountaineering Club in early 1993 and Stuart also joined, allowing us to climb and walk together. He, unfortunately had Epilepsy, the 'petit mal' milder version, but it stopped him doing a lot of things and causing me to have to put him into a special needs school.

He was an expert swimmer and, in 1997 I took him on his first abroad holiday in Greece, with my mum and my then partner, Yvonne. Tragedy happened on 29th June when he went to swim in the sea, while we watched him from the beach. He was snorkeling and, on diving down, a speedboat came across his path and, although it didn't hit him, it shook him up causing a seizure that made him drown. I just couldn't get to him in time!
Stuart in 1996

During all this time Terry gave me great support in the business and in 2000 we were approached by Redex, a French Company who owned Andantex and asked if we would like to merge and take over the running of Andantex, moving it down from Ashton-Under-Lyme to Coventry.

We did this as we knew Terry would want to retire before me (he was 11 years older than me), which he did in 2007 and Redex would buy his shares, allowing me to carry on without him.

In 2001 my mum died with a brain tumor. Denise, my sister had had Colon Cancer a few years before and, although she is still OK, things seemed not so good in the family. However in 2002 I got together with Jackie, my dream woman, having known her for a couple of years and in May 2003 we got married. I have never looked back since.

My brother Tony retired around 2006 and he and his wife sold up in the UK, bought a yacht and now live their lives in the Greek Islands.

My daughter Fiona went on to get married (and then divorced) and had three lovely children,  Abbie (now 13), Becky (now 11) and Jenny (now 7). Here they are:

Having got the company up to just over £1.5m and a very decent profit I decided its now my turn to retire. The business is in good shape, our top customer is a taxi builder for Mercedes Benz, we provide actuators for steering the rear wheels of the Mercedes Vito taxi, a vehicle with a long future. Customer number 2 is Rolls Royce and, in 2011, we became an approved supplier to them. We have supplied a pitch drive assembly for a new tidal generator and, if successful it could totally transform the business into a multi million pound business within a few years. Not a bad situation to pass on to the 'next generation'.

Jackie and I are now planning our future and we hope it starts in November with a six month trip to New Zealand. watch this space!!