Woking Business

INTERNATIONAL road and track journalists gathered last week to hear McLaren Automotive unveil the business’s first motorsport strategy and its plans for nurturing young drivers.

A series of new initiatives as part of the company’s motorsport GT offer were announced in the Thought Leadership Centre within McLaren’s vast Woking campus

DRIVING AMBITION – The first four members of the new driver development programme – (from left) Jordan Albert, Charlie Fagg, Lewis Proctor and Michael O’Brien

The event marked major GT motorsport expansion plans by McLaren Automotive, which has a workforce of around 2,100 and now forms the largest part of the newly combined sports and technology-based McLaren Group.

McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt unveiled details and concept sketches of the new 720S GT3 race car which is to join the successful 570S GT4. It will be built in a dedicated facility at Woking and testing is due to begin next year for launch with customer teams in 2019.

McLaren Automotive’s global sales and marketing executive director, Jolyon Nash, with a 720S GT3 race car on screen

Confidence in the future of its GT success was underpinned with the launch of a new driver development programme to nurture GT racing talent of the future. The first four drivers selected for the scheme are Jordan Albert, 21, and Michael O’Brien, 22, Charlie Fagg, 18, and Lewis Proctor, 21.

The young team will be given the benefit of having McLaren Automotive factory driver Rob Bell, the most accomplished GT driver of his generation and winner of multiple championships, as their mentor.

“The McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme has been established to help gifted young drivers realise their motorsport ambitions,” said Mr Flewitt. “If they have the talent, regardless of their background we want to be there to guide them and foster their racing skills. These four will be our future in endurance racing

Speaking to the News and Mail, he added: “This programme is a part of a wider commitment to encouraging young people. We are very much a part of the local community and already do quite a lot to help young people here.

“We run apprenticeships, we offer work experience and do tours of our site here. We also organise for McLaren people to speak about what we do at schools. McLaren has become a far more open company.”

A further plan announced is the development of a network of retailers, specialising in selling road and track products. An initial 10 retail locations around the world, offering motorsport support and service, were announced, the first of these being in Glasgow.

The company also plans to extend the existing Pure McLaren customer track day series with race plans set to take off next year at iconic European racing circuits in 2018. This new series is aimed at McLaren owners who already have extensive track driving experience, taking them to their first steps in the racing world in a controlled and familiar environment with the support of McLaren motorsport experts.

“The 720S GT3 will provide a stunning race-going addition to our Super Series product family and drivers will now be able to hone their skills under expert guidance backed-up by our technicians at the circuit and our motorsport retailers away from it,” said Flewitt.

The new development programme will get into gear when the young drivers compete in pairs in two 570S GT4 cars during 2018.

They drivers will receive motorsport education and driver support that includes fitness and nutrition assessments and advice and PR, marketing and sponsorship support and guidance.

They will undergo regular assessments and evaluation on their performance with a tailored programme developed to ensure each delivers their best performance. This will include simulator access and working with the engineering teams to better understand telemetry data and race strategy.

For Jordan who lives in the village of Silverstone, Northamptonshire, racing has always been a part of his life and he has been driving competitively for almost four years. He moved into GT4 competition after a number of wins in BRDC F4 (British Racing Drivers’ Club Formula 4). A highly successful debut in 2016 ensured he came to the attention of McLaren’s selectors.

Over the last four years he has trained and raced with Michael, who is also from the Silverstone area. Michael had started racing in 2014in the historic Formula Ford and on moving into the British Formula Ford Championship he achieved a succession of wins. Clearly someone who likes a challenge he has also turned his hand to pick-up truck racing.

Lewis Proctor from Aberdeen, broke on to the McLaren scene this year, after competing nationally in saloon championship and only returned to the UK from a McLaren’s event in Austin, Texas the day before the press event.

The youngest of the McLaren protégées is Charlie from Durham, who graduated from Ginetta Junior driving ranks last year after a number of podium finishes since he began driving in 2014.

A FATHER-of-two has spoken of the “life-changing” moment which led to him putting Type 2 diabetes into remission.

Chris Chapman, Sales Director for Woking-based GlucoRx diabetes company, describes how he discovered that he had diabetes when he noticed his energy levels depleting.

The 35-year-old was forced to admit his diagnosis when his GP prescribed metformin, a drug which lowers your blood sugar level used to help treat type 2 diabetes.

He says “not being able to play 10 minutes of football” with his son was the push he needed to kick-start a battle to reverse his Type 2 diabetes.

Chris Chapman with his children Lauren and Ryan

Chris’s personal health journey was recounted alongside World Diabetes Day last week and he explains: “My blood sugar levels were in double digits each time I tested. I was lethargic and was worried about what was happening to me. The weight piled on and I went from 13 stone to a touch below 18 stone.

“I knew I had to do something about it. Being the director of a company which manufactures equipment for diabetes, I thought it can’t be me – I honestly didn’t think it was diabetes. I couldn’t walk without getting out of breath and when you can’t play ten minutes of football with your son it’s worrying, it was a life-changing moment.”

Chris began the battle to reverse his condition last December. He followed a low-carb diet and joined a gym and with the help of a personal trainer attended sessions three to four times a week for seven months. He has since lost four stone, reversed his type 2 diabetes and his body mass index (BMI) measures at a heathier level.

GlucoRx is the UK’s second largest supplier of innovative, ISO-conforming, quality yet cost effective management solutions for all people with diabetes and  provides free accessories, bespoke training, pharmacy managed diabetic reviews and EQA testing.

The company reports saving the NHS around £18 million in the past three years, and has target to save the NHS £100 million as they reach out to more Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the UK.

A FAMILY run butchers with shops in Brookwood and Pirbright is celebrating 90 years in business.

Fulk Bros Family Butchers was established on June 7 1927, in Connaught Road, Brookwood with a shop and slaughterhouse. The family have many memories and stories of their time in business and some are recalled here.

An earlier butcher by the name of CH Fulk traded from a building called Aberdeen House in Star Hill, Woking.

It is thought that business was started as long ago as 1860, with a yard at the back of the premises to hold livestock. There are stories of ‘well to do’ people arriving at the shop and sitting in their horse-drawn carriages while their orders were taken.

Butcher – Tony Fulk

At Brookwood, sheep and cattle arrived at the railway station from as far afield as the West Country and Scotland. They were then driven into fields in Lye Road until needed. Gate boys were employed to make sure garden gates along the route were closed to ensure the animals did not stray.

Many years ago drovers brought cattle and sheep from Chichester and Barnham in West Sussex to the Woking area, the journey taking three days. Some were dropped off at other butchers along the way.  Evidently, a drover known as ‘Dawky’ was paid three shillings for his work. Back then lambs cost seven shillings and six pence (37.5p). Today Fulk Bros pays £75 per lamb, plus slaughtering and delivery costs.

Before modern refrigeration, ice was used to keep the meat cool. Large blocks of ice were delivered from an ice factory in Guildford. At the end of each week all the melted ice had to be swept out. Today slaughtering of the livestock Fulks Bros buys is outsourced.

The Pirbright shop once had three window shutters and during freezing winters braziers were used in the shop to stop the fresh meat freezing! Early in the 1950s windows were installed and fridges were put in to make life easier.

Brookwood Hospital was once supplied with large quantities of pork, while animals were raised by Bob Fulk on farms in Pirbright and Normandy.  His prize winning herd of Large White pigs were exported all over the world.

The original shop in Pirbright opened in 1938. It was on the side of the Cricketers pub. Where today’s shop is was once a cart shed.

Four generation of Fulks have been involved in the business that is now headed up by Jo Fulk. However, Tony Fulk is still firmly the face of the business. On the subject of its success and longevity, he said: “Quite simply, tradition, high quality meats, unique customer service and most of all our customers, many becoming lifelong friends.”

He likes to buy livestock ‘on the hoof’ directly from farms and markets and in 2015 his sausages were judged to be the finest in Surrey in a competition hosted by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the Woking News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. Email address: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

FANCY chilling over a glass of wine the next time you’re at the hairdresser’s – a trend that has taken off at hair hotspots may soon be a feature of Emma Rose Hair Design, a new hair salon in West End village.

Due to have an official launch party on 17 November from 7pm – 9pm, Emma Rose, who already has a personal licence to serve alcohol, has applied for a premises licence so that clients can be offered a glass of wine or beer while they are at the salon.

Though Emma only took over the business a few weeks ago, her experience in hairdressing comes from over 15 years as a trained hairdresser in Surrey and London’s Mayfair as well as the early introduction she had to the business through her parents’ hair salon in Sutton.

“The salon is a contemporary salon with three stylists, including myself, which offers all hair services including bridal hair, colouring and extensions. However, our plan is to serve drinks to clients, especially for weekend evening appointments. It has already gone down extremely well with the current clientele,” says Emma.

The opening of the West End salon is a dream-come-true for the 36-year-old has always been to own a salon of her own. She explains: “I’ve always thought it would be amazing to won the Salon in the village. It’s so local to us and it would be lovely to play a big part in the local community. Also, being a mum at the local school, it is perfectly placed for me.”

Husband Andy, who is a local driving school instructor and grew up in West End, says: “The salon in West End has been there for as long as I can remember, and we never even dreamed it would come up for sale. Then one day, just browsing the internet, Emma came across seemingly just another salon for sale in Woking, proceeded to message the owner (out of interest), and it turned out to be the salon in West End! She couldn’t believe it, and we decided that it was an opportunity she couldn’t miss, and so 6 long months after the initial offer, she finally became the owner.”

A DIGITAL version of This is Your Life is helping residents at a Woking care home to recover hidden memories and bringing them closer to the staff.

InteractiveMe is a tablet-based app that includes biographical details and photographs. The service was introduced last week at the Princess Christian Care Centre and is being spread throughout the homes run by parent company Nellsar.

Sam Dondi-Smith, the InteractiveMe chief executive, said the service was born out of his experience as an occupational therapist.

The Interactive Me application is being demonstrated to Mary Brown by Niki Young, Customer Support and Account MAnager – Interactive Me

He said it was in the shortlist of five to win a national Dementia Care award: “It works with residents, relatives and staff to build up a really detailed picture of a person’s life.”

Sam said it was used in one-to-one therapy and was about trying to unlock memories that act as a trigger for discussions.

“It’s about socialisation. It activates memories that residents can engage in while the staff get to know them better.”

He said the app helped to show interesting elements of a person’s life and that one example was of a resident who had worked on Concorde and went out with Sir David Attenborough in her youth.

“For the families, it means that they are involved in the care.”

Sam said that memory could be seen to be like books on a bookshelf that were pushed at one end. The earliest memories stay upright but the newest ones fall over.

“Memories such as starting a family or having a job can be very strong whereas what was had for lunch can be lost.”

A WOKING healthcare company is among the many expecting to see growth of the hairy kind for Movember.

Chris Chapman, sales director at diabetes firm GlucoRx, is planning to grow a moustache for the sixth year running, as part of the international campaign to raise cash for prostate cancer research.

Movember was launched in 2003 by a group of men in Melbourne who chose to grow moustaches for fun. Just 12 months later 450 men took part, successfully raising £25,000 for prostate cancer research. The major annual event now has five million people taking part in at least 21 countries.

Chris, the 35-year-old father of two, aims to raise £1,000 and hopes his colleagues from the Monument Way West company join him in his fundraising feat.

He said:  “I see it as an opportunity to change the face of men’s health by changing mine to raise the profile of this worthy cause. I’m hoping as many of my colleagues as possible will join me in this bid to raise awareness of men’s health issues and as much money as possible.”

The Movember Foundation are the only charity who raise funds and awareness of some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Chris can do so by visiting: https://uk.movember.com/mospace/455968

GLOBAL Travel Management MD Scott Pawley issued a rallying call to the travel industry as he received an Outstanding Achievement Award.

The Woking-based firm is one of the UK’s leading business travel management companies. Receiving his accolade from Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK’s largest independent travel agent consortium, Pawley said: “I take pride in making sure our sector is strong. The pressures on the travel industry are these days affecting the everyday lives of so many people. So we have to accept that as businesses, my own company included, we are only as strong as the market we are a part of.”

Global Travel Management MD Scott Pawley receives an Outstanding Achievement Award from Advantage Travel Partnership’s MD Julia Lo Bue-Said

Pawley’s initiatives have included inventing the Focus Fare Finder Tool, which has achieved over £1million of air savings for the group’s members year on year.

“At GTM we have been able to take a leading role in helping to ensure that, investing time and energy in supporting Advantage members,” he explains. “That’s why I gave the Focus Fare Finder Tool to the partnership for free, enabling all our members to benefit financially and make the industry more secure.”

Global Travel Management was also voted Advantage Partnership Business Travel Agent of the Year for the second consecutive year. Celebrating its 20th anniversary since it was founded by Pawley and his wife, Natalie, it operates from its head office in Woking and a further office in Watford and has a forecasted turnover of £30million.

A ST JOHNS coffee shop has been transformed into a venue for the community to meet, over a hot drink, a meal or a glass of wine.

Bem Coffee, formerly Penny Blacks, in St Johns Road, was taken over last year by returning local resident Jane Moffatt.

“I love Woking. When I came back from Hong Kong and Rio, I loved being in Surrey which is spacious and green. It’s so beautiful around here which is often taken for granted”

Jayde Farinha, new owner Jane Moffat and Kasia Rogusha

Jane has lived in various parts of Woking and went to Halstead Preparatory School before attending a boarding school in Effingham.

While expanding the coffee shop into somewhere that serves hot and cold drinks and a growing range of food, Jane has been careful to bring the Penny Blacks regulars with her.

One of the aspects of the former business – the monthly book club – is still running on the first Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm.

But there have been major changes as well, including doubling the size of the interior and expanding the menu.

“It’s really exciting. Before they used to do a few paninis that were brought in by another company, but now we do a full English breakfast on a Saturday and are gradually adding that in all week. The largest part of our menu is breakfast.

“We also do sandwiches and paninis and in the evening serve nibbles to go along with the beer and wine, for which we have a licence.”

Jane, 26, has previously worked in coffee shops and was keen to return to that world, this time as the boss.

She has six members of staff and can be found behind the counter, preparing food and drink, and also chatting to her customers.

The name “Bem” comes from bem estar, which is Brazilian Portuguese for “wellness”.

At the moment Bem Coffee is open until 9pm from Thursday to Saturday and 5pm on other days. It is hoped that those times will move a little later.

Jane has dogs and she and fellow dog walkers on St Johns Lye like to sit in the outside area at Bem with their pets.

“I am hoping to expand the outside area. Last winter we added blankets for people to sit outside in the winter. We added comfier chairs and will get heaters for this winter.”

Various special events are held at Bem and there will be a Christmas-themed one on 16 December. Tickets are on sale now and can be found on Bem’s Facebook page.

Jane said her favourite part of the job was preparing food and serving customers.

“I really enjoy it. We have same people come in in the morning and we have a good chat. It’s like a small family.

“They all love the changes and it’s all really exciting,” she said.

WOKING-based technology company Invotra are celebrating after winning Medium Employer of the Year in the South East at the 2017 National Apprenticeship awards.

The win is the latest in a number of accolades for the intranet software company and digital workplace provider, who were listed in the top 100 apprenticeship employers in 2016, and saw one of their apprentices, Andrew Doyle, win the 2016 apprentice of the year award at the Surrey Business Awards and shortlisted to the Nationals in December.

“Many people still question the value of an apprenticeship over a university degree, but for Invotra, apprenticeships have played a fundamental role in the success of our business,” said HR director Alison Galvin. “Our apprentices are very highly skilled, committed, enthusiastic and bright, and they all say the apprenticeship programme was a brilliant pathway for them.”

Woking MP Jonathan Lord said: “Invotra has a wonderful track record for getting the best out of its young, talented and enthusiastic workforce.  Invotra is the perfect case history to demonstrate how tailored apprenticeships can work superbly well for both employer and employee.”

THE Lansbury Estate business park, which is home to an eclectic mix of 40 companies, started life as an electrical component manufacturer working out of an old cow shed in St Johns.

Crater Controls, established by Woking-born Arthur Craven and a colleague in 1947, developed from making a range of electrical switches and other components to producing complete goods such as hairdryers and tea-making machines.

Speaking from his office at Lansbury Estate, Arthur, who turns 94 next month, recalled that Crater replaced the old cow shed with a larger building and then needed to move to somewhere even bigger.

He was offered land on the edge of Knaphill on which a multi-storey building was to be put up.

“But I wanted somewhere suitable for flowline production. I walked through some bushes and came upon this site, which was six acres and has just a few derelict buildings on it,” he said.

Arthur got into conversation with a man in an old wooden shed. He was an inmate at Brookwood Mental Hospital and caretaker of the land, which was a former brickworks. Arthur contacted the owners and in 1956 bought the site and built his factory.

At the height of Crater’s fortunes, the company was employing more than 500 people.

Some of the staff were brought in on buses from as far away as Basingstoke. In a move that was very forward-looking at the time, the company provided a crèche for the workers.

Crater moved into the final product business because its customers were having great difficulty in getting their goods manufactured.

“They said ‘Come along, Arthur, you have all the equipment here, why don’t you make them?’”

The small domestic appliances produced from the Knaphill site included up to 10,000 hairdryers a day.

The success came to an abrupt halt one night in 1972 when the first of a set of new heaters caught fire, destroying all the production areas.

There then followed a very difficult eight-year period in which the various lawyers were, in Arthur’s words “at each other’s throats.” The case eventually went to the Old Bailey in a case that lasted a week.

The insurers agreed to pay out on the buildings, but Crater was facing great difficulties. Arthur had started a medical diagnostics equipment company, Medelec Ltd, from his home in Hook Heath. It later moved to St Johns and then to Manor Way in Old Woking.

In 1979, with the legal battle over the factory fire still raging, Arthur sold Medelec Ltd, but despite this and the insurance payout, the future for Crater was grim.

“At the end of 1979, early 1980 I had no choice but to draw stumps,” Arthur recalled sadly.

However, the idea for the current successful business came a few days after Crater folded.

“I went away for a break and when I came back I looked at the buildings and thought they are jolly good buildings and thought there is room for a hell of a lot more, so why don’t we let them to someone else.”

So, Lansbury Estate was born.

I asked Arthur if the name was perhaps related to the great actress Angela Lansbury.

“No, but that will do,” he said. In fact the name was chosen just because it was “nice sounding.”

Arthur’s son Mark, a Lansbury director, explained that by now the Lansbury Estate is home to tenants as diverse as the Woking Hospice warehouse, a producer of precision engineering for McLaren, a software security company, website developers, as well as large companies in the oil industry.

“There is quite a concentration of oil-based designers and engineers in the Woking area,” Mark said.

“They like the location, which suits most of their staff. There are very good transport links and adequate parking on site.”

Mark said that Lansbury Estates carries out all the maintenance on site and has someone who looks after the greenery.

Mark’s brother James and their sisters Kate and Claire also work for Lansbury and during the summer some of their children make it three generations of Cravens working at the company.

Arthur is still working hard as said that “the word ‘retire’ is not in my vocabulary”.

He recalled his first day of work – in 1939 – when at 15 he went into Vickers in Weybridge and suggested that he would make a good apprentice.

He was taken on by a manager called George Edwards, who would later run Vickers and was knighted.

Arthur’s step into running his own company came shortly after the war when one of the Vickers customers reported that they had been unable to buy certain switches.

“I first thought, ‘well we’ll make it here’,” Arthur said. “Then I thought ‘that’s ridiculous, I’ll make it and you can buy it’”.

He came out of that discussion with an order for 30,000 switches and then cast around for somewhere to base his factory.

“I’ve always lived in Woking and it seemed to me that if I was going to start a business it would be rather stupid to start it somewhere else,” Arthur said.