Let’s start at the beginning… Fred Henderson

Fred Henderson has operated workshop, MOT centre and a light recovery service in Durham City in the North East of England for more than 40 years. We caught up with him and put the following questions.

Let’s start at the beginning…

What was your first job/employment?
Apprentice Motor Mechanic age 15 years 2 months

Fred Henderson

How long have you worked in the Recovery Industry?
First breakdown 1963, but only full time from 1966

How many vehicles do you operate?
16 various vehicles doing light recovery work.

What was your first truck?
Like everyone else, a Land Rover with Harvey Frost crane.

What was your favourite truck?
Ford Transit twin wheel: they make brilliant light recovery vehicles: we have 7

What was your worst buy?
I bought a second hand Land Rover once: Every time it went out it cost more money to repair than the value of the job. I then sold it and the new owner ran it for 5 years and said it never missed a beat!!!

What was the best time to be in Breakdown/Recovery?
1970’s & 1980’s.As the new clubs like National Breakdown become dominant and bureaucracy had not begun.

What do you feel is the most positive thing about the recovery industry?
It’s a great industry to work in as a roadside technician but at the moment its a torrid business to operate.

What frustrates you about the industry?
Big work providers suppressing small companies. Just the same as Tesco and he farmers.

What changes do you expect to see over the next few years?
More bureaucracy and big operators with many trucks dominating where the chimney pots are and the rest as struggling rural operators.

Whats the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Always react with your gut instinct, never miss an opportunity as she may go out with someone else and you won’t get another chance.

What tips would you offer someone starting out in this industry today?
As a roadside technician go for it but as regards running a business you’d have to be very lucky to be in the right location.

Do you have hobbies outside work?
I like the odd game of cricket, love motor sport and light aviation.

Who do you think has been (or is) our best Prime Minister ever?
Margaret Thatcher, by a country mile

What kind of car do you drive?
Ford Transit 330 with a few luxuries added.

Do you have a favourite car or one you would like to own?
Not really. But I do like The Ferrari 356.

Who in business do you most admire?
Bernie Ecclestone: He turned a passion and a hobby into rather a good business.

What was your first pop record?
The Platters: Great Pretender.

What is your favourite book?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

What is your favourite film?
The Great Escape

What is your favourite food?
Rump steak, well done of course, potatoes, peas & plenty of gravy.

What is your favourite place anywhere?
Canada, once out of the cities

What alternative career would you have favoured if it had not been the Motor Trade?
Probably farming as I was born a farmer’s son, or possibly agricultural engineering.

I you could have a wish, what would you change most in our Industry?
I would ban all AA & RAC vans and have the work done by contractors; each contractor to have no more than 20 trucks.

Fred Henderson