In the Den
The thought of entering the den was not terribly daunting - I worked for many years as a stand up comedian and still carry out several after dinner speeches and charity auctions - I have had hostile audiences many times - I remember one occasion when I had been booked to entertain the royal marines - they had all had a fair bit to drink and I was actually booed on! However I stood my ground, hit them with some very topical (and risque!) humour - did my forty-minute spot and received a standing ovation!
But the den was like nothing I have ever experienced, as founder and chairman of abacus employment services I have also given hundreds of sales presentations - but - I can honestly say The Den is extremely intimidating - to walk into semi darkness and total silence whilst trying to find "the mark" (a black cross on a black floor!), having found it and then looking into bright lights at five successful business people who all appeared to be scowling (I may have imagined that but that's how it felt) made me ask the question, "what am I doing this for?" However, I had great faith in my product and was confident about my numbers. We had expected to be in production many weeks earlier but had several setbacks which were time consuming and expensive. Our biggest problem was the tooling - whoever invented the pencil sharpener is a genius! Trust me. So when I got to the den we had orders for 2,000+ and we had enquiries from several people but we had physically sold very few.
Deborah is not a golfer and could not understand the product at all - she was however very complimentary to me and hopefully one day we could work on something together - Peter is a very good golfer but felt the product was too heavy - once we start producing them in aluminium I will send him one - Duncan felt I hadn't done enough research - I disagreed but that's life - Theo liked it and liked me - but he kept his hand in his pocket and then asked could he keep the one I'd shown him! I promised to send him an invoice - four down and one to go. James and I had a lot in common - we both had our early success in the employment industry and according to his book, "the real deal" (a very good read) he followed his father's advice, which was "observe what the masses are doing and do the opposite".
In 2008-09 the recruitment business was on its knees - companies were closing branches everywhere. We opened a new office in Salisbury and shortly after took over another company in Slough! It looks as though we were destined to work together - although initially we bartered a fair bit we eventually came to an arrangement that suits us all. I always felt that at least one of the dragons would buy into the company and me - I am delighted it is James.
Made in England
When I was a young boy in primary school I remember one particular lesson. We had a history teacher who was quite mad. Barking. He probably wouldn't be able to get a job these days. He was the old fashioned teacher who wouldn't think twice about throwing things at any pupil who wasn't paying attention; chalk, blackboard dusters - anything.
Absolutely mad, but passionate about teaching. This particular day he was explaining to us what had made England and Great Britain famous. He showed the size of our country and compared it to many others. Russia, China, America, Europe etc and then listed the achievements of various British companies and individuals. It was really quite staggering and made me immensely proud. That was in the mid fifties and things have changed so much. I live between Andover and Salisbury and up to 10 years ago there was a huge manufacturing base in Andover. It saddens me to drive around the industrial estates and see so many empty properties. By insisting that Golfers' Mate is made in England I realise that our small contribution is not going to make that much difference but when you hold the Golfers' Mate and experience that fabulous piece of engineering that is available at such a reasonable price I hope that you, like my partners and I, feel rightly proud of our engineering and inventive heritage.
GOLFERS' MATE. MADE IN ENGLAND.