I know lots of people say no two days are the same for them but for me that really is true. And that’s because I don’t work nine-to-five. I live in Comrie in Perthshire and clock up about 45,000 miles a year working for Air-serv covering Scotland, the North East, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and some of their National Accounts.
My job is to secure installations for Air-serv’s garage forecourt equipment. At Air-serv I have a great support network who take care of production, installation, paper work and finance so I am free to sell. I don’t have routine hours so I might be processing orders in the morning then going to an appointment in the afternoon. I could be at a show or entertaining in the evening or I could be out on the road cold calling.
Networking is an important part of my job whether it’s at a dinner like the APEA or the Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards, or shows like the PetroForum and the Forecourt Show at the NEC.
And that’s why I love my job because it really is so varied. I’ve had my own company in the past so know how that works and working for Air-serv is very similar in that they just let me get on with it. As long as I report in with my figures every quarter, they are fine with that.
Right back to the very beginning, and my first job was selling high-pressure cleaners in London. I went for an interview; the boss took me to the back of his unit and demonstrated a high-pressure cleaner. That same day he put the cleaner in the back of a car and sent me to do a demonstration. I sold the machine, came back with a cheque and he gave me the job.
Later, it was while working for Anglia Cleaning Equipment, that I was introduced to garage forecourt equipment and loved the concept. I felt they were cash machines for my customers and for me.
I started my own business selling Anglia’s pressure cleaners and J&S Engineering’s forecourt jet washes and eventually vacuums. My brother-in-law, an engineer, was keen to design me my own car wash and from then on I sold my own equipment under the GLF name.
It was the ’80s, I was the only supplier in Scotland which had only independently owned sites and the equipment did indeed prove to be a tremendous financial benefit to the garages. The vacs and jet washes sold themselves.
The market changed with supermarkets opening garages and oil companies buying independent garages. I managed to secure contracts for GLF with Safeway’s (now Morrison’s) and Shell Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I was offered an opportunity to sell my company in 2006 and to be employed by Air-serv which, before I joined, had basically concentrated on garage forecourt air machines.
Air-serv had the financial capabilities to be able to manufacture jet washes, vacuums and air machines and then rent them or profit share them to the independent garages and the big national companies.
When it comes to advice for business success, I’d say "know your market and be prepared to change when necessary". Too often, if a company is successful, the owners hang on too long before changing and jet washes need to be continually improved upon.
I have attempted to always be honourable; I do feel in the long run it works better even in today’s cut-throat society.
I must admit if a customer asks for something my reply is always "that’s not a problem". Then I promptly pass it over to Air-serv’s technical and production guys and they always seem to manage. It is beyond me how they do it. I have never, in 40 years, told a customer "We can’t do that".
My hobby and interests are my work. I love doing this job. But I do always try to be home on a Thursday night to play volleyball and on Sundays and Fridays to go to church.
I don’t really have a greatest achievement, but if I had to say something, it would be securing Safeway’s business for a small company in Scotland in the early ’90s or Tesco’s contract with Air-serv in 2008.
My wife wants me to add that it’s hard work being a salesman’s wife so, my greatest achievement should be keeping my wife for 44 years!
Name: George Field
Job title: General sales manager North/national accounts
Career history: I have been in the industry for 40 years. I started out as a salesman, selling from the back of my car. I moved on, ran my own company, sold it and went to Air-serv
Greatest achievement: Being married for 44 years
Tips for business success: Be prepared to change
Most likely to say: That’s not a problem
Least likely to say: We can’t do that
Other interests: Volleyball and going to church