Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Keith Bernard

With the continuing success and growth of the business, which included the sales of Porsche cars, the greater investment in spare parts, workshop equipment, servicing and repairs and also Porsche Design stock, our finances were becoming increasingly stretched and we needed some help.
None of us partners had ever had any formal business training, so as Managing Director, I called in a good friend Keith Bernard, who was a chartered accountant by profession. Keith also bought in a young lady Julie with him and she replaced Thomas our Indian bookkeeper. We could not afford Keith fulltime, so I came to an arrangement to pay him part time and also we did a contra on his service and repair bills on his BMW 635CSI, which was costing him a small fortune to run.
Keith subsequently purchased a used part exchange Porsche 924 turbo and I sold on a new Porsche 928S to our existing customer. As Keith had become a Porsche customer he became more involved in our financial planning, meeting with the bankers and open our collective eyes to what we needed to be doing and it also left us with some hard decisions to make.
For some reason I could not sell the powder blue Porsche 911 coupe and so we left this in the Sheraton Hotel lobby on display along with a Porsche 944. Most people wanted to buy automatic Porsche 928 and 944 models; so manual Porsche 911’s were only sold to strict order from then on.
I eventually decided to use the powder blue Porsche 911 as a demonstrator and sold the 944 I was using. I used this 911 as my personal car and eventually I convinced Keith to buy it as he was spending a lot on maintaining his Porsche 924 turbo, having just replaced the turbo unit and cylinder head at no small cost.
We had weekly management meetings, which I chaired and these became very heated at times as each of us partners wanted to push for investment in our own particular business area, but we could not afford to do everything. I guess we were going through the pains that all businesses go through, especially when you grow very quickly.
            One day I woke up in bed and realised we had a small monster on our hands as we now had a workshop of six mechanics, one in spare parts and one cleaner, all managed by Rob McEwen. We also needed to get into establish a paint and body repair shop to address repairing and repainting Porsche models correctly, to meet our customer needs and maintain the long life body warranty extended by Porsche AG.
Bob had taken on a chap called Andy Howard to run the Porsche Design Boutique. (Andy Howard was to be another massive challenge in our lives, but we did not know it then.)

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