The influence of my uncle was a major factor in my development as he was a self-taught agricultural engineer, who was always fixing things and inventing modifications for special jobs.
When I took up the gauntlet and started to actually race motorbikes when I was 16, the background was crucial for when I started to build racing engines - often a lot faster than the efforts of my opponents.
At the end of my apprenticeship at the age of 21 I started my own business, No1Gear. At first I simply filled my transit van with the parts that I thought people might find they needed at the Motocross meetings. I couldn't believe the demand for my parts. I very quickly added a Kawasaki off-road franchise and the No1Gear business speedily broadened into No1Gear Motofactors, importing and wholesaling further parts to other motorcycle dealers within a radius of about 100 miles of Chard.
From 1992 onwards the UK motorcycle supply and parts business declined rapidly as imports of 'grey' motorcycles became cheaper and the need for spares declined. From a dealership point of view it was more economical to leave this area of the trade. The 'leisure' side of the sport where I fitted in was hit hard by recession - younger people with surplus cash before they got married, started spending on property instead. Now I supply the kind of people whose leisure pursuits include travelling and holidaying in their camper-vans.
This 'depression' caused me to rapidly diversify my business and I added car and van rental to the business - simply because we could buy three Talbot Expresses for the price of two Transits. This is how I have built up the knowledge in working with the Talbot Express, Citroën C25 and the Fiat Ducato. Specialising in this type of vehicle, their faults and weaknesses became well-known to us, and as you can understand, hiring out vehicles to the general public quickly revealed any weak points in these vehicles. By coincidence the motor caravan and motor home builders used more of these vehicles throughout the 1980s and 1990s than any other.
So we can pride ourselves in our extensive knowledge and expertise in this type of vehicle. Recently we have started manufacturing many parts ourselves. These will be coming onstream more frequently as parts are frequently wearing out and becoming obsolete - unless we provide them that is. The original dealers don't have this depth of knowledge because they left these products 13 years ago."