Hi, thanks for checking out the blog again. I want to share a bit of history this week because I was filing away some old documents and found a whole folder of plans, brochures and photos from when we used to export to Scandinavia.
We are talking the 90’s Michael Heseltine is pushing export and John is keen for an adventure, using the trade missions of the Chamber of Commerce John visits a few countries with the hope of doing some business….. With trips to East Germany (now the wall is down), South Africa and China, he didn’t get much luck especially in China as they just wanted to sell to us, and they wanted to sell any old stuff…… Now look at them!
However, John did get some success in Scandinavia. At the time (and I think now,) Scandinavia have a very high cost of living and pay a lot of tax (sounds familiar eh?) so it worked out that John could produce a whole restaurant or pub full of furniture, ship it to Scandinavia and fit it cheaper and quicker than they could do there. I have a brochure quoting 10 week turnaround from deposit to completion.
Tulles Rock Café, Greenland’s Take on Hard Rock Café
John built a great working relationship with an architect called Reidar, his hand drawn plans and designs were accurate and descriptive, John and the team could make the bars, serveries and furniture from his plans, load it all into a container and fit it perfectly into the space that Reidar had measured the other end. All without a site visit.
Reidars Drawing for Den Eksotiske Café in Copenhagen
Operating predominantly in Norway, Denmark and Greenland the team (as briefly mentioned above) would manufacture everything in the workshop here in Nuneaton, in unit 6 only may I add (a third of the size we are now). Once items were finished they would load it into a container which sat at the side of the unit. Everything that might be needed on site was loaded in, including tools. The lads at the time had two sets of kit as they wouldn’t be seeing their tools for a few weeks! They would also have power tools with Scandinavian plugs to allow them to work without taking pesky adaptors.
Container leaving for and arrived in Sisimiut, Greenland
These trips weren’t without adventure. Getting to certain parts of Greenland required a Chinook helicopter to take them there, Dad remembers his toolboxes rattling down the isle of the helicopter. They enjoyed a bit of whale watching in their downtime and even managed to attend a couple of opening night parties (they were that close to the wire!) One of these parties nearly ended in disaster when one of the lads fell asleep outside in sub zero temperatures….. If one of the Inuit’s hadn’t have said to John “if your guy sleeps outside any longer he’ll die” then maybe I would be writing a different blog…. Maybe I wouldn’t be writing one at all……
JFW Ltd Christmas Card at the height of our export period
Sadly Reidar passed away a few years ago, but not before I got a chance to meet him and work on a few export jobs with him, the last one would be a bar in Copenhagen, Aub and I travelled with this one and installed it in a couple of days, I have a funny story about a suitcase full of money, ask me about it sometime!
Aub and myself at completion of Kebabish in Copenhagen
Dad and I will miss Reidar, Dad especially, they became friends, it was generally a piss take friendship but often they are the best, they knew how each other worked and enjoyed it. He always knew the best (cheap) bars to go to and knew how to have a good time, affectionately known as Santa by the lads, he will be missed.
We haven’t exported for a while, except for Bens Cookie materials a few years ago to the middle east. We are always open to it, we are always up for an adventure so if you know a Reidar who needs us, give him our number!
I’ll leave you with an article from Furniture Magazine, the article is from an interview with Dad about his successes overseas.
Article excerpt from Furniture Magazine
Have a great weekend all.
“Tak for at du leste”