Nearly 50 years old, but not old fashioned!
On the 1st April 2021 Andrew Grant will be 50 years old, here Andrew Grant himself shares with us the history of his brand.
"This seems to sound much like an obituary, but I can assure you that things are happening, now, much faster than ever.
"Living in Kidderminster, aged just 13 I would regularly attend furniture sales in the town's old cattle market with two friends from my then school, Winterfold. The auctioneers, today known as Phipps and Pritchard, referred to the three of us as 'The Syndicate', and if other parties bid against us (by probably no more than 25p in today's money) the auctioneer would rebuke them for bidding against the syndicate. This ignited the desire in me to become an auctioneer and estate agent.
"Aged only 16, and still needing a maths O-level I started in articles, at Arthur G. Griffiths and Sons, an agricultural auctioneer, and was the first not to pay a premium for the pleasure. My days in the cattle market were fun. My first job was broking in calves (which I sometimes wrongly sexed - much to the anxiety of the auctioneer, who would however always make the surrounding crowd aware of my folly!). For more the cattle market was my university of life, you simply had to get on with and understand the farmers or else they made your life a misery. In an interesting turn of fact, my first auction was of some mistletoe, sent to be sold by the nuns of Stanbrook Abbey, some forty years later I would sell the Abbey on their behalf for around £5million.
"Having now gained my maths O-level, my work saw me travel from Worcester, to Bromsgrove, Moseley and then to Michael J. Davis of Kidderminster. Michael was excellent at business but rather unpleasant; I was always having to request my monthly salary and eventually left, being owed 3 months wages. He also often wrote ghastly letters to those who'd upset him.
"With a loan from my brother, on 1st April 1971, I set-up in business, at Pierpoint Street, Worcester - yes, it was April Fool's Day! My first break came with some publicity gained in my first 3 months (see main image), when I had managed to secure the sale of Spring Grove, more commonly known today as West Midland's Safari Park.
"The park was owned by the Webb family, famous for Webbs Seeds. The late owner, Major Harcourt-Webb, a solicitor who'd created the Severn Valley Railway, had hoped that the two leisures would go hand in hand, but learned that the property company managing the sale intended to split the entire estate.
"I was asked to trace Jimmy Chipperfield to ascertain if he was still interested in purchasing, and with Lord Derby he did. Unfortunately, I did not receive a fee as the solicitor had not discussed this with the buyers and, as anyone knows, it's no good doing anything after the event! I did however receive a huge amount of publicity including the entire front page of the Kidderminster Shuttle, and as a result of the deal, became acquainted with the Webb family, and have since done much business on their behalf.
"The business slowly progressed, by opening further offices, mostly via acquisition; one of which being my former employer, Michael J. Davis (I did not deduct the three months salary still owing to me!). I also took over the office of Savills in Hereford as they were unable to make a go of it, as well as more recently their Solihull office as that too was shutting down.
"My thanks must go to the wonderful people that I have worked with over the years. The first, who became my mentor,was Alan Fortune. Alan acted as a consultant to my firm for over 35 years, retiring at the age of 87. We met as a result of him coming to the Midlands to sort the sale and arrangements of acquisitioned companies. He first saw me through my Pierpoint Street office window - sleeping at my desk!
"As a company we have invested in strategic training, which includes the introduction and use of ever evolving technolgies - essential for us in today's digitally driven society."