Farmer had “loads of approaches” to buy the business before deciding to accept Ford’s offer in 1999. “The time was right,” he says. In 2003 he was back launching Farmer Autocare where he helps budding entrepreneurs to run their own tyre and exhaust fitting centres.
He also runs Maidencraig Investments supporting new business start-ups.
What then does he make of today’s business environment – is the UK still a place for aspirational businesses to thrive? “There are still opportunities but again I say that those opportunities come about if you ensure that the team you have is better than your competitors,” he states. “In tough economic times you have to be obsessed with not letting your standards go down or cutting short internal training or incentive programmes. You also have to be obsessed with controlling costs. Every penny you have has got to be a prisoner.”
What about a chief executive’s personality? Are there certain characteristics which will help an aspiring business keep growing? “I was the driving force but I wasn’t necessarily the driver,” Farmer answers. “I found delegation hard but I recognised I had to do it. One person said to me there is a fine line between delegation and abdication. Delegation doesn’t mean I want you to do this, this is your job and then walk away – that’s abdication. Delegation is saying this is your job but you will be measured. I want you to report back to me and that way you will know what I am expecting from you. I had to go through a learning curve.”
He has a final message for growing firms. “If you are convinced about an opportunity and you have done your homework then go for it!”
You don’t know where the road will take you.