Let’s start at the beginning… Peter Jones

Peter Jones has been involved with the motor trade for over 30 years. Even as a young lad, he spent weekends helping his dad in the family recovery firm, Arthur Jones Motors, but on leaving school he wanted wider experience so he began his working life as an apprentice mechanic repairing Volvo and Lotus vehicles. A keen fan of motor sport, his mechanical expertise was put to good use preparing cars for Formula 3 events, spending several seasons recovering and repairing cars that the drivers broke for ‘enjoyment’. Deciding it would be better to be paid for recovering vehicles, and with qualifications in business administration under his belt, he joined the family firm, and the rest is history. He still enjoys motor sport, but these days it’s only 2 wheels Green Laneing, and when he’s not burning rubber (or grass!) he can be found relaxing on the golf course trying to get his handicap back to below 24.

What was your first paid job, if not to do with recovery, how did you break into recovery?
After the paper round, I joined a Volvo main dealer as an apprentice mechanic, then got more experience with Vauxhall Formula 3 racing and then went to work for a Lotus dealership. After a couple of false starts and much arm bending, at the tender age of 26 I was persuaded to join Arthur Jones which my father started in 1973 as a manager.

How long have you worked in the recovery industry?
It’s been 16 years now, though time has just flown

Current job title?
Managing director and 100% shareholder

Peter Jones
Peter Jones

How many vehicles do you operate?
Our fleet now stands at 50 trucks in total including service vans rotators and low loaders

What was your first truck?
That’s stretching the memory. Pretty sure it was a speclift

What was your favourite truck?
That’s a hard one. Probably a Scania 5 axle, 10 wheeler with a Bonniface 1060 rotating crane

What was your worst buy?
My lips are sealed…..

What was the best time to be in breakdown/recovery?
When there was a good living to be earned, this was a great business to be in. The boom times were good and we could grow the business. Now things are much harder, and we don’t get rewarded for our dedication and contribution any more, which is a great shame

What do you feel is the most positive thing about the recovery industry?
The people. They’re resilient and ooze friendliness. Bit like a small family or a cottage industry really. It thrives on their passion, total commitment and dedication 24/7

What frustrates you about the industry?
Firstly it would be the short term contracts of just 3 years, making it impossible for long term investment commitments into the business. Secondly the litigation and blame culture that now follows us around. When you do a good job for the RAC or Green Flag, its great when the customer thanks you, but when they then claim against the club it leaves a sour taste. Thirdly over audited with so many hoops to climb through and we just don’t get rewarded for the time, dedication and commitment that everybody puts in

What changes do you expect to see over the next few years?
A lot of very good businesses going to the wall as they cannot react fast enough to the economic demands. The job volumes are still falling, the cost to do the job are still rising and the income is still falling. This in time is bound to affect the overall service to the customer. Trucks will get older, the staff wages will get lower and the service quality to the end user will be affected. Sadly i don’t think our customers will see this or have the power to do anything about it until it’s too late. Then i think the opposite will happen, once they realise the quality isn’t being delivered to the customer they will start throwing money at us to invest in our businesses and this would cost them more in the long run. This could all be prevented by paying us the higher rate now at a time when need it most.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned in life?
Trust nobody, never take things for granted, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

What’s the biggest cock up you’ve ever made?
Took my wife Stephanie to a night out, not realising it was a men only function. I had to send her home in her new dress with a bag of chips. She has never forgiven me for this!

Do you have any hobbies outside work?
I love golf, but like most people in our business I just don’t get the time to play enough to get my handicap down. Green lane motor cycling really gives you a chance to blow away the cobwebs – great fun.

Who do you think has been (or is) our best prime minister?
Difficult one, so I’d rather keep that to myself

What kind of car do you drive?
Range Rover Sport

Do you have a favourite car or one you would like to own?
It’s got to be an Aston Martin

Who in business do you most admire?
Nikki King. She’s done a great job in a male dominated world, not just as MD at Isuzu but her work with the RHA and chairing ERRI. She is so good at getting the best out of people and instigating fresh ideas.

What was the first record you bought?
Madness, House of Fun

What is your favourite book?
Entrepreneur biographies, any self help or educational books really

What is your favourite film?
Any of the Bourne films. Good stories and full of action

Who is your favourite comedian?
Michael McIntyre

What is your favourite food?
Indian and Italian food

What is your favourite place, anywhere?
Italy. Just love the country and the people

What alternative career would you have favoured if it had not been in the motor trade?
That’s really a hard one. It would have to be something to do with motors. If it’s got wheels and an engine, then that’s for me

If you could have a wish, what would you change most in our industry?
Better recognition and greater rewards. We don’t get the respect or return for the risks we take. We even put our lives on the line sometimes, but it’s rarely appreciated. I employ brilliant guys who are totally dedicated, but there just isn’t enough money in this business to pay them what they really deserve. Our qualified fitters can earn more in a warehouse or driving a box delivery van, and that’s not right.

Peter Jones