Mike Saward has been working in the recovery industry for over 40 years, and there are few people in our business with such an extensive knowledge of recovery vehicles. Mike’s experience encompasses most aspects of the industry. How has the industry changed over the last decades, what’s good or bad about the business, and what does the future hold for recovery? Known as one of the nicest guys in the business and with recovery flowing through his veins, we approached Mike for his own personal view on these questions.
Let’s start at the beginning…
What was your first paid job, if not to do with recovery, how did you break into recovery?
Joined Dial-Holmes on 15TH November 1965 on reception then moving on to heavy and light recovery under the guidance of Bill Jackson and Fred Noble. I learnt a lot about recovery with Albert Carter using various trucks, Diamond T fitted with Holmes 750 twin boom, Diamond T fitted with Holmes 850 twin boom, AEC Mammoth major fitted with Holmes 750 and various other Holmes Recovery Equipment together with Air cushions.
The company changed its name in the mid 70â€™s to Wreckers International where the Bulldog Interstater was developed together with the Pioneer axle. After 25 years and one day i was made redundant when Wreckers went into receivership.
One of my first training course with the Holmes 750
Air cushions being used at a major accident in Essex
One of my customers Roger Dyson purchased this Holmes 750
I used to arrange the truck recovery at Brands Hatch,Silverstone,and Donnington
This photo shows a Scamell Amazon fitted with a twin boom at Donnington
How long have you worked in the recovery industry?
45 Years this November
Current job title?
Recovery vehicle sales engineer.
What was your favourite truck?
Unipower fitted with a Holmes 750. Way ahead of its time.
What was the best time to be in breakdown/recovery?
Seventies and eighties with all the new developments in the industry, the introduction of the Bulldog Retriever spec frame, Bulldog 10 twin boom, Bulldog Dominator range of hydraulic twin booms, the Interstater Concept and Recoverer underlifts, together with the aluminium slidebeds.
This was one of our first rotators built on an AEC Mammouth Major
A factory visit to the Century factory in Chattanooga Tennessee in the early 90â€™s. I would love to arrange another one (Who’s up for it?!)
What do you feel is the most positive thing about the recovery industry?
The enthusiasm of the younger generation of recovery technicians.
What frustrates you about the industry?
What changes do you expect to see over the next few years?
Long needed legislation with the introduction of Plating, Testing and MOT,
Rotators fitted with Wylie safe load indicators.
Warning buzzers and compliance with crane regulations, vehicle transporters fitted with on board weighing screens in the cabs. Annual testing of all recovery equipment.
Whatâ€™s the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Whatâ€™s the problem?
Whatâ€™s the cause of the problem?
What are the solutions?
Whatâ€™s the best solution?
Act on it now
What’s the biggest cock-up you’ve ever made?
Building an Interstater at Wreckers International for Tony Gibson of T&G Motors in Benfleet when I forgot to put the required rear legs on the job sheet. When Tony came to collect the vehicle he was very understanding and purchased two scotch blocks to compensate for the rear legs!!
Do you have any hobbies outside work?
Playing golf, taking holidays and bird watching (just seen a Red Kite).
Who do you think has been (or is) our best prime minister?
What kind of car do you drive?
A great 1998 Jaguar XJ8 with 150,000 Miles on the clock
Do you have a favourite car or one you would like to own?
Who in business do you most admire?
What was the first record you bought?
Donna by Marty Wilde
What is your favourite book?
Donâ€™t read, but i suppose my paying in bank book
What is your favourite film?
Who is your favourite football team?
I was born 15TH October 1948 and followed my fathers football team Tottenham Hotspur until 6TH FEBUARY 1958 when there was a plane crash at Munich airport when seven members of the Busby Babes (Manchester United)were killed, average age 24. From that day i have been a Man U supporter, but still have a soft spot for The Spurs.
Who is your favourite comedian?
Norman Wisdom (Mr Grimsdale)
What is your favourite food?
American all day breakfast with hash browns
What is your favourite place, anywhere?
Hutchinson Island Stuart Florida watching all the bird life
What alternative career would you have favoured if it had not been in the motor trade?
A Water or Forest Bailiff
If you could have a wish, what would you change most in our industry?
On accident and/or breakdown which is causing obstructions, the nearest approved garage available should be called.