WEEK COMMENCING 12 NOVEMBER 2023
Did you manage to get to Harrogate for the show last weekend? You’ll know it was crazy there if you did. It was great seeing so many people there, and catching up with lots of friends. Thank you to everyone who came and said hello, for the kind comments about the Newsletter, and our products. Lots of people mentioned Conkers LIVE, our livestream demo series from lockdown. We miss it too, but we think it’s time has (thankfully) passed now, but don’t forget that we will be having another online quiz between Christmas and New Year! I hope you’ll be able to join us.
This is going to be a very different Newsletter, I hope you won’t mind. I prefer the Newsletters to be about our products, and how to get the best from them. But, whilst we were at the Harrogate Show, we celebrated our birthday. That’s Chestnut Products, not me personally (although, co-incidentally, I’m often in Harrogate for my mine as well). We didn’t think to make a note of the exact date that Chestnut Products started, but as far as we can work out, we were 32 on Sunday 12 November. Where did that time go? And how can we get it back??
Anyway, I’ve been asked a number of times how I got into this profession, and it came up a couple of times at the show as well. So, working on the assumption that at least some people are interested (and if not, you can close this now and there will be a normal Newsletter next week!) I thought I’d tell the story, as it seems like a good time to do so…
Strangely, I can trace the origins to a pub in Sevenoaks, in Kent. I was there with a friend from school during in the early 80s. The conversation turned to cars, and we were bemoaning the amount of time we spent keeping them in good condition – adjusting the tappets, setting the points, cleaning the carburettor – all the stuff you just can’t do on modern cars. We decided that when we changed jobs, we’d go for one with a company car, and get our weekends back!
As it turned out, a year or so later I was looking for a new job, and decided to try to get one with a car. I applied for several, including in car showrooms, as a service technician (something I had experience of) and as a trainee sales representative for a local paint manufacturer. I think the paint company were the only one to interview me, but I’m pleased they did.
As well as paints, they also produced waxes, lacquers, polishes etc – it’s similar technology.
During my training, I spent a lot of time working on the woodfinishing side of the business, and found it fascinating. This included working alongside the chemists, quality control experts, and the technical support department, which I really enjoyed and provided me with the knowledge I still rely on to this day.
After about seven years with that company, I saw there was a need to make their products available to a wider audience, specifically hobby woodworkers. It wasn’t a direction the company wanted to go in, so I decided to have a go at it myself.
Chestnut Products started with me driving around the south-east of England, swapping my company car for a mini metro van, and selling our products from the back of that.
Fast-forward thirty odd years, and we’re still a small company, but now with a handful of (frankly, brilliant) employees, and we send our products around the world as well as to the UK.
I’ve tried to keep that brief, I didn’t want to bore you, but as mentioned, enough people have asked me that I thought I’d answer it here.
I’d love to know how many people end up in the job they expected to be in when they left school. I certainly never expected to be doing this, but I’m pleased I got that interview all those years ago, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
(Sadly, I lost contact with my friend Richard, so I don’t know if he got a job with a company car!).
I’ll be back next week with a more normal Newsletter