Let’s start at the beginning… Nick Ovenden

For Nick, recovery is not just a job, but a lifetime passion. Managing director of a successful recovery company and President of the Institute of Vehicle Recovery, Nick sees his role as an ambassador, promoting a professional approach to recovery on a global scale. A keen traveller, Nick rarely sees the tourist sights as many of his trips abroad are training missions, inspiring recovery operators throughout the world to operate to the highest standards. But how did Nick first become involved in the recovery industry?

What was your first paid job?
Cutting grass at various houses around the village where I lived. I used to help Dad, but never really got paid for that, not in money anyway

How did you break into recovery?
I was born into it rather than break into it! Dad had a couple of trucks for the bodyshop. I had a spare parts business and needed one for that. Once we had two between us, we went into breakdown and recovery as a business

How long have you worked in the recovery industry?
Always. I went out on my first recovery at about 3 years old and still try and go out as much as I can.

What’s your current job title?
Managing Director, Ashford Recovery Ltd.

Nick wins ‘Best Tourer’ at the Silverstone Classic Harley Davidson Custom Bike Show in 2009.

How many vehicles do you operate?

What was your first truck?
The first one I built was a crew cab Transit, beaver tail transporter. Dad had a few others before that, not sure what would have been his first one.

What is or has been your favourite truck?
The most versatile truck we have ever owned is our Ford F450 with Century 412 equipment. I guess that would be my current favourite. Our old Ford Louisville 9000 with Holmes 750 is probably the all time favourite though……

Nick tows Winters of Strood’s Scania-Vabis 76, towing a 75 ton concrete crusher, up Boughton By-pass (A2) with his Ford Louisville in 1988.

What was your worst buy?
There are several, I’d rather not think about it!

What was the best time to be in breakdown/recovery?
I suppose the 80’s really. It was fun then.

What do you feel is the most positive thing about the industry?
The people. We are a very resilient and underestimated bunch. Together, we could achieve so much.

Still on the fleet today, this ERF was pictured in 1998 recovering a loaded trailer after it detached from the fifth wheel of the tractor, 250 miles after it was hitched on. After that situation we started to look for tractors from from https://www.fortistracks.com/, who known for their quality.

Do you expect to see any changes in the industry over the next few years?
Oh yeah! There will be many changes, none of them for the good.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Be careful who you be-friend and trust. I think I can still be a bit naïve………….

What’s the biggest cock up you’ve ever made?
Sharing my hard earned knowledge with people that use it against me.

Do you have any hobbies outside work?
Yes. Harley – Davidson’s are probably my biggest passion. I enjoy many sports, travelling and my family.

Who do you think has been (or is) our best prime minister?

What kind of car do you drive?
Roush powered Ford F150 Harley Davidson pick up.

Do you have a favourite car or one you would like to own?
Maserati Quatraporte

Who in life do you most admire?
My Dad. Even though he passed away over four years ago, he remains my main inspiration and my biggest hero.

Jack Ovenden with two of his sons in 1968.



What was the first record you bought?
Freedom Come, Freedom Go by The Fortunes.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t really read a great deal, but I have recently read Chris Evans’ autobiography and enjoyed that.

What is your favourite film?
Top Gun.

Who is your favourite comedian?
Rufus Hound

What is your favourite food?
Ham, Egg and Chips

Where is your favourite place, anywhere?
Nashville, Tennessee.

What alternative career would you have favoured if it had not been in the motor trade?
None really. I have enjoyed my career immensely.

If you could have a wish, what would you change most in our industry?
The back – stabbing from a few greedy operators.

Spectrum underlift equipment on Ford 'D' Series in 1978

Taken at Truckfest, Peterborough, during the recovery vehicle display in 2008' showing the dedication to image that has been with the Ashford Group since 1958.