The past two months have definitely taken their toll on my body! I’ve just about recovered from last month’s Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards, and that was preceded by our inaugural customer week at Cowes Week in the Isle of Wight, followed by Automechanika in Frankfurt. All three events were fantastic but there is a physical price to pay.
This morning I have a major road trip and multiple meetings to contend with. I leave at 5.30am. You seem to need to leave earlier than ever before to get out of Southampton and on to the motorway without traffic these days.
My first meeting is in Tadcaster, Yorkshire and I enjoy the drive up North. I resist the temptation for breakfast in McDonalds as I have fond memories of the roadside bacon-roll wagons along the A1 during my years on the road as a field engineer. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to visit many small towns in the North of England, undertaking a major network grade change programme at the start of my career.
The downstream petroleum industry is a very infectious one to work in and I think the combination of national coverage with local site experiences is one of the unique characteristics of the business.
I arrive in Tadcaster where I pass one of the Total sites I had done some work on years ago. I really enjoyed my time in the field, and only having to worry about the job in front of me, rather than every aspect of the company, was probably underrated at the time.
Despite the heavy rainfall and flooding in the North, I arrived an hour early so caught up with emails on my Blackberry. Mobile email is a fantastic tool in these circumstances. The meeting is with a transport company which has experienced vehicle downtime due to engine filter blockages. We have built up a considerable knowledge of diesel contamination over the past six years, which we can use to help companies find the root cause of their problems.
The vehicle filters in question have been analysed under a high power microscope as well as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) analysis to identify the root cause of the filter blocking. Tank and fuel maintenance has become seriously scientific since the introduction of biofuels but it has been really interesting to be on the front line of many issues.
It has also given me the opportunity to make presentations to high-level audiences in the US and Germany as well as most of the European fuel quality managers at a seminar in Brussels.
The meeting goes well and I think the attendees get a lot of my recommendations although it has over-run and I am an hour behind schedule. I arrive at the site in Luton, having made up some time on a free-flowing M1, which is a pleasant surprise.
The past 10 days have been hectic because we have had some international visitors to deal with.
Eurotank is introducing new technology from North America into the European market and this is the trial site where the final demo is taking place before gaining government authority approval.
The demo goes well and it is satisfying to see three years’ worth of work finally get close to full commercial launch.
This new technology will help retailers increase their profit margins, which will be a nice addition to our portfolio as most of our other services are seen as necessary evils for retailers!
After a customer meeting in a local Costa, I head up the M1 to another couple of meetings at Newport Pagnell services.
I meet Lawrie Smail, Eurotank contracts director, and we carry out two interviews with prospective employees for a new business division Eurotank is launching.
The M25 has been a nightmare today with major delays still, even at 9pm, so I ignore the sat nav completely and head north to pick up the A43, which will then link in with the A34 to take me home to Southampton. The roads are clear and it’s a great drive, so I arrive home at 11pm.