Tell us about your current role – what do you do?
I’m the Managing Director at Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld and have been since 2009. We have a senior management team here, which comprises a sales manager, a customer services manager, an HR manager and an operations manager, and they all report to me. We have about 60 staff overall.
What is Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld?
Travelworld is a family business that was started by my father back in 1977 and historically, we were involved in a niche area of the leisure vehicle market, importing American RVs.
We had a big shift in our business during the last recession and we became a dealer for British and European motorhomes.
First, we took on Niesmann+Bischoff, the upmarket German brand that is part of the Erwin Hymer Group. In 2015,, we became an exclusive Hymer Group dealer and in 2018, we started building a new dealership on a five-acre site in Stafford Norther (J14 M6). We opened this in March 2019 as an Erwin Hymer Centre.
How did you join the business? Was it inevitable?
Yes, it does feel like it was preordained! But I was always passionate about motorhomes and the leisure vehicle industry.
As a child I would help out at exhibitions and be around the business. Then I joined in 1995, after leaving school. From pretty early on, I was quite sales orientated, so it was really a question of working my way up through the ranks.
What memories do you have of motorhome trips that your family went on when you were a child?
I have a lot of memories as a young child, going out on the vehicles, particularly at shows and also family holidays.
In my 20s, I was lucky enough to get involved in motorsport as a hobby. I raced Radicals for a while and the motorhome was a perfect support vehicle for those activities. For 10 years or so, I was using them heavily.
What’s the best trip you’ve ever been on?
We have two children and recently did a thousand miles around France – in a week. We went to meet friends in the south of France and stopped one night in each place, including a night at Euro Disney, which the children thought was amazing.
A year or two before that, my wife and I took a Niesmann+Bischoff to Austria and went skiing – that was one of my most memorable trips.
Where would you like to go next?
Unfortunately we have just had a trip cancelled – we were meant to go to a dealership conference in Germany and were planning on combining this with a 10-day trip across Europe. But because of the pandemic, we couldn’t go – now we hope to rebook.
What’s special about your brand – what’s its USP?
Quality, and the fact that we’re a 100% exclusive German motorhome dealer, so our focus is on representing the very highest-quality products that the market has to offer. We try to provide the best experience for our customers that we can.
What news from your company – what has been the impact of the pandemic?
It’s been a rollercoaster! We were shut for two and a half months last year, which was heartbreaking. We reopened on 1 June 2020 and it was monumental, we had a huge surge in demand and did our best to keep up with it. We are really pleased with where we are the moment.
What advice would you offer to people who are looking to start motorcaravanning?
We’ve seen a surge in first-time buyers and my advice to any potential customer would be to do as much research as you can.
The UK market is clearly dominated by British products, but I’d also advise people to look at the German models, too, because there are plenty of interesting things to see.
What’s on your driving playlist?
I’m listening to a lot of Beck at the moment.
Favourite meal or recipe while out on tour?
We love to barbecue when we’re on a trip.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people!
I don’t know, this is not going to be a surprise really – but I love fast cars!
You’re in Hall 6 Advice Lounge & Event Theatre at Van Live! See what else is happening on stage, visit the Travelworld stand in Hall 3, or take me to the Show Guide.
First, we took on Niesmann+Bischoff, the upmarket German brand that is part of the Erwin Hymer Group. In 2015,, we became an exclusive Hymer Group dealer