Written by Andy Woodward
Just after joining Van Guard I recall one of our biggest distributors, having just met me and heard about my hopes and ambitions for the company, ask me my age. When I told him, he looked me in the eyes and asked if I had the energy and motivation to do this job!!! I thought I gave him a decent response but more importantly I hope that, in the 3 years plus since then, I have answered his question more eloquently and emphatically.
I couldn’t help though ruminating once more about this question as Chris and I set off on our 3rd and longest leg of our ULTI Rack Tour of Britain. More than 1,000 miles stretched out before us in 4 days and for a fleeting moment I was questioning my sanity more than my motivation!!! I was though looking forward to more of the same in terms of positive reactions to ULTI Rack. It is no surprise that that is exactly what we got.
We decided to head up to Bonnie Scotland in one hit with no calls on the way. This proved to be a very good decision because it was a long trip made worse by the weather going from poor, as we passed the Midlands, to atrocious as we crossed the border!
A visit to Gretna was a must as we passed. Anybody who saw Chris’s presentation at the recent distributor meeting will know he referred to our upcoming epic trek being a potential cause of homicide or a surprise wedding at Gretna! The subsequent Facebook posting though got my missus a bit concerned as of course she was not privy to the aforementioned presentation so was getting a tad concerned.
The Highland roads
This detour though did distract us and we missed a turning to our ULTImate destination. This meant that we ended up on a cross country run on a typical Scottish Highland road which in any other circumstances would have been a joy. In twilight conditions and horizontal rain with a tiring driver - Me! It was no fun whatsoever and I am sure I heard Chris saying the rosary as we wended our way through 25 miles of winding treacherous roads!! We were glad to get off it and finally arrived at our destination some 9 hours after setting off.
Thankfully we stayed at one of THE best hotels either of us can remember staying at. The Carlton Hotel in Prestwick was not only smart and contemporary, it also had an excellent restaurant which allowed us to continue the regional food element of our national tour with Cullen Skink, Haggis Scotch Egg and Haggis Burger!!!
(L) Cullen Skink & (R) Haggis Scotch Egg
The next day, suitably refreshed, we headed down to Royal Troon Golf course to get some memorable pictures to add to the collection. Sadly the place was very understated so memorable pics were not on offer but hey ho at least we can say we have been!
Royal Troon Golf Course
A really great meeting and visit with Malcolm and Fiona at Equipavan and then on to Glasgow. I was very much looking forward to doing the demo with Johnny and his team at Vanax as he is another one who has had a lot of influence on the development of our products and we were not disappointed. He was very impressed with ULTI Rack, as were the fitters, and praised how far we as a business had come in the last three years which was very gratifying to hear.
(L) Equipavan in Prestwick & (R) Vanax in Glasgow
It was nice to go out with the boys from Indigo in Edinburgh that evening and taken to our favourite pub in our favourite city, The Dome. This is a magnificent place at any time but around the festive season just becomes something else. We then went for a traditional Scottish meal at a Chinese Restaurant!! (There is only so much haggis one can take yer ken!!)
The next morning, after a fun visit to see Dougie at Edinburgh Van Liners, we were back on our way down to England and as we crossed the border we saw the sun for the first ti
me in 3 days!! It was great to see Neil at NB Fleet Services in Sunderland but not before were able to take a swerve to the Angel of The North and take what was always going to be an iconic picture alongside our Angel of The South!!! Neil is one of our most loyal Supply & Fit customers and so it was particularly pleasing to get such good feedback from him for ULTI Rack.
Then it was on to Ply Line Services at Richmond. We were very grateful that Andy got all of his fitters to stop work and give us their full attention for our demo and I was delighted with this and the response from Andy and all the team. They fit a lot of modular type systems and to a man they agreed that ULTI Rack is a “great” product that should be incredibly easy and quick to fit.
Another long day but thankfully our hotel was only 5 miles away and we were very much on the last leg. An early start on our last day to ensure we were at our last venue bang on 9.00am at Venson in York. Again it was very much like Ply Line Services in that Mark got all his fitters to give us their undivided attention. It was just like an action replay in that all present were quite shocked at how simple and effective the Click and Lock mechanism was and how good the rack looked. They were though just as impressed at how easy it going to be to transport and store!! Mark echoed Johnny at Vanax saying what a great product we had come up with and how much progress we had made in the last three years.
It's comments like that which make the miles Chris and I are doing worthwhile. This is just as well as a closure of the M5 on our way back caused a detour via Swindon and turned a 5 hour journey home into 6 and a half hour journey and took our total mileage in 4 days to 1,121!!! Quite a week.
Motivation? Energy? Not difficult when you have a great product like ULTI Rack to promote and nice people to show it off to.
Thanks to all involved for your hospitality and active participation. A truly great 3rd leg of the tour.
Next week – ULTI Rack is here and we head to the Sarf East!!!