ARTICLES - By Mr Bee
- A big thanks to our customers
- Frame stand
- UK BGM Official distributors
- Pete Postlethwaite
- Long winter on a bike /
- MB Dyno /
- Bored so made this /
- MBgm RT cylinder packers /
- JL Stub repair /
- Ugly Lambretta /
- 1983 to today /
- An idiot abroad
- Classic Off Road show 2011
- Early Facebook Rambles
- Isle of Man 2007
- Josh Brown Team Scootermatix
- Marks History and moves
- Kayaking Country File
- MB Name and Logos
- MB Restructure 2011
- MB New Scooter tyre store
- MB It always happens to me
- Note from Dean Orton
- Out in the snow 2010
- Scootering prompts memories
- Web Site Developments
- Winter bike clothes testing
- Tech Gadgets x
- Tech MB Speedo
Marks History and moves
Here you will find a list of workshop moves, expansions and why we did it. This goes back to Mark Mums basement in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. England. So a little history first.
MEXBOROUGH THE START
Mark was lucky enough to live with his mum in a old four floor semi detached house on the posh street of the mining town of Mexborough. The house sat above the main Sheffield-Doncaster Canal which was at the bottom of the garden. The house over looked the River Don, Sheffield-Doncaster railway, Denaby flood waters the village of Old Denaby and the hill above Old Denaby, in the distance Denaby and Conisborough. Little would Mark realise he would locate on the other side of that hill over 35 years later. At the time that hill seemed to take a day to get there and back!
From 1975 to 1980 this was a great play ground for a teenage boy, the water drew him to fishing, Kayaking, making dens, bird watching, shooting air rifles, riding bikes, mountain biking, train spotting, swimming and various sports.
Throughout this period Mark's next door neighbors where the Jepsons! These strange speaking people hailed from Watford, both Daddy Jepson Dick had previously had a Lambretta and the eldest son Arthur was an original Mod and both had run GT200s from Arthur Francis of Watford (now AF Rayspeed) The youngest son Derick not old enough for Scooters started life on mopeds the old type with pedals not the new twist and gos. Derick is a few years older than Mark and progressed onto Lambrettas around 1977. Mark gained a Mobelette did it up and used it on the fields of Denaby unknowingly starting his mechanical career. And the fields that he raced the moped and push bikes on in the Seventies was Marks play ground where the new move is to take place many years later.
Mark remembers the Wath Pathfinders calling on Derick for trips to Scarborough and the East Coast. There was always a Scooter outside his house, Derick became a mechanic and was constantly building scooters inside his basement rooms. Derick progressed to cars, running a black Mini van with a Lambretta logo on it.
Quadraphenia came and went and Derick gave Scooters up, keeping his 70s long hair rather than the short hair period of the time and still has! Having given up, Derick returned to Scooters as many have done 20 years later ending up with a bike Mark did in 1990! And he still has it to this day.
And so it seemed Derick and family and Scooter club became the reason for Mark to know all about Lambrettas throughout the Seventies. This is was not really the case! In 1975 Mark liked Pinball Wizard by Elton John as it was been played on the radio, this led to borrowing the original Quadraphenia Album by The Who which gave him the love of music. He became a big Who fan which is where he saw a Parka and wanted one, it wasn't until 1979 that the Parka, Lambrettas, Mod music came together and Mark became a 15 year old Mod.
Marks Nanna and Grandad ran a Bus depot and mechanics business where the basics of business and leaning the ropes started, often sweeping up and getting in the way on a Saturday morning from the age of 11 earning 50p. On a Sunday Mark took over from Derick's car cleaning job with his other next door neighbor and at one point also had a paper round.
As things progressed Mark got a job with the South Yorkshire passenger Transport becoming a Diesel fitter where he learn't some more of the trade! Thoughout the 5 year apprenticeship Mark used the 3 basement rooms under his mums house, where he collected as many Lambrettas as he could, all stripped cleaned and prepared ready for his restorations. And it wasn't long before mates brought bikes to Mark for repairing and tuning.
Five years into Scooters living the life touring everywhere riding them the length of Britain and using them as daily transport led to working at Beedspeed in Grimsby for a year. After a year Mark ended up redundant and stranded in a house that he had just bought.
And so the story has continued, from in the basement in Mexborough to Beedspeed to a house in Grimsby!
This was the middle of the 1980's the jobs on offer paid less than the mortgage after 6 months of doing Scooters in the living room and bedroom Mark took the decision to go it alone proper!
MB Developments set up on the edge of Grimsby docks! Then disaster struck one year after starting business and making a profit which totally shocked the account as he said 'I never thought you could finish a year' Some Twat set fire to the workshop in the early hours, basically burning it to the ground!
For the first time the whole world collapsed around him, eventually he sold the house and moved back to his home town of Doncaster where he set up a temporary business in the garage next to his now retired Nannas house, with burn't out old remains of what ever he could salvage from the fire.
Time went by and Mark through an old family friend found an old railway station near Wakefield, always a dream of Mark to have, this station was perfect, bordered up from the 1960's still with news papers everywhere. But it was not to be, the owners were a pain in the arse, who dragged it on an on. Close to bankruptcy because of the fire and the insurance people, who were another set of nobs. Why do people put brick walls in front of you when your young and trying to set up a business, its beyond me. And as it transpires it doesn't matter how old you are, people are all the same especially if they wear suits all day, nothings changed!
As the railway station fell through Mark found the Industrial Estate in Edlington, Doncaster not after tying to buy various shops around Doncaster but as usual the blokes in suits spoil everything! These people have no foresight, so it seems Mark and MB have been knocked back from day one! Mark hates England and the shit involved in business here!
So in 1990 we took on Unit 15 Broomhouse Lane Industrial Estate and now with a 660 sq feet unit. And his first customer in that empty building was Phil slacker Davies who works at MB! Mark had nothing, it all burnt to the ground! Mark started with nothing, built up a nice business and lost it in 30 minutes of fire. The insurance voided half of the money owed to him as stuff was second hand, even in those days Lambrettas were worth a lot of money and got nothing back. He lost around 5 GPs, Sx200s, Tv200, engines and body bits, some customers totally lost bikes! On about kicking someone when he's down. What do you do give up? No! Pick yourself up Mark and carry on. And he did, scrounging whatever he could, finding equipment as cheap as he could, replacing tools and stock, just starting all over again. And that's what happened, he tuned and tuned and built as many engines as I could just to make ends meet.
And this is how Mark grew, been a bit clever turned his hands to anything, doing lot's of shows and generally finding work to pay for houses, wife and kids. After 5 years it was time to move the place was full, MBD had employed a number of helpers who have stayed friends all these years later. We were getting busier and needed to move so onto Industrial unit number 3.
In 1995 we moved into Unit 31, this was much bigger at 1000 sq ft, we built a 2nd floor to extended it and carried on working all hours to cover bills! Ian Hepworth joined Mark to computerise and help bring MB into the modern world! Again we totally out grew it, with no room after 5 years we moved again in 2000.
Unit 5, this was bigger with a court yard, again we built a second floor, shop and offices in the court yard! Only to have the bloody council come in and say no permission take it down! So £2000 and a month later it all went in the bin, only for the council to inspect and say 'oh we would have given you permission it was built that well' Bloody hell these job worths! Twats! Having no shop or office or room for one, within 2 months we had to move again. But this time we took a gamble and kept the big unit and rented another one for the shop and stores at Unit 17 which was in a block of 3 and the other end to were Mark first started.
So now we had split units, the workshop Unit 5 and the shop Unit 17, 300 yards apart. It's here Phil 'Slacker Davies' joined the team. As with Ian both had been good customers and Mark knew them well for a number of years and so MB grew with the foundations of good employees and a good hard working work ethics. With ex brothering law Martin Webb now working in the workshop, MB took its modern shape! And from it we grew again
We very quickly needed more room and took the next door Unit 16 gaining another 660 sq ft, knocking through which we made the shop front adding Ian 'Mouse' Marrison to the work force. If your keeping up we have 3 Units at this point. The way we worked we needed more room. We looked at a Unit in the country down the road to buy, it was great the perfect dream, but the woman who owned it was going to make £90K profit on us and became a real pain in the arse, so Mark told her to stuff it. Yes another suit but this time a woman! Its a shame it fell through but it did and these things happen for a reason.
UNIT 18 AND 21
The workshop was over growing and Mark needed to expand and took on Unit 21 giving us 1000 sq ft more, now dubbed the F1 shop and then we needed another for more employees so took Unit 18 also, another 1000 sq ft added!
In the end we took Unit 15 again knocked through to have 6 units in total! MBD were moving forward looking at new oportunities, Scooter Attack gave us Stage 6 UK, Scooter Center Koln gave us BGM and SCK UK and Schwalbe gave us also sole distrubutorship in the UK.
At around this time Darrel Taylor moved up close to us so we could all work together develop our businesses and grow Team Scootermatix with Josh Brown racing. This worked well for a year or so, but some internal ranglings with partners in Scootermatix (part of MB) meant we pulled out of Darrels office, Scootermatix moved in with MB but it still wasn't working for a number of reasons. Darrel took Lee off us and carried on until he realised working from a unit and paying rent was not for him and moved into a house with a Garage to trade from.
Maybe MB tried to expand to fast, but it was in a recession and the pound had collapsed against the Euro and not a great time to set up 3 sole distributorships from Germany. We sort of gave up/had Stage6 taken off us to a big relief of Mark and Ian as it was so much hassle. In the end we made Scootermatix company work and it made a profit as did Schwalbe and SCK UK.
See also the TEAM SCOOTERMATIX 2009 write up.
It was a joke we were trying to take over the Industrial Estate, it was just the way it went, we were expanding so fast we needed employees and Units to get through the work.
Then the recession came and slowly work and jobs were at risk, engineering slowed down for the 9 employees and we had to make some redundancies! In our business life was hard, the Euro and the knock on effect of running empty units after a round of redundancies. Running the 6 split units becomes a bottomless pit and this is why we made the decision on our major move. We had 5000 sq ft of split units and found a 12'000 sq ft unit for basically the same overheads, but it was still a gamble and a half For us! Having looked back each move Mark has always done he said 'why didn't I do this years ago?'. Each move was an improvement, we set off on the big unit move well before we were forced into redundancy's. It was designed around a team in a shop and a team in the workshop and here's what we did.
UPDATES AS WE MOVED INTO DENABY AND WHERE WE SAW OURSELVES GOING AND AS THINGS PANED OUT
Along with all the normal business MB Developments had been expanding, moving around and spring cleaning. We now have 5 industrial units dedicated to Scooters.
- Unit 16 and 17 houses our shop, stores, packing department and offices.
- Unit 5 is our manufacturing unit where we, machine, polish, grind, fabricate, repair and weld our own products. Unit 5 has had a total overhaul to 'comply' its now much cleaner, more spread out and has its own machine shop. Polishing, grinding and tuning room. Welding room and fabrication and sheet metal areas. We have another 2 units now in the same area as the shop,
- Unit 18 now has our development dyno up and working, jetting dyno is next door.
- Unit 18 has its own tuning, reboring and honing room and along with our open plan workshop its now set up for engine and bike rebuilding with repair work.
- Unit 21 was Mark's own tool room, development, tuning and engine rebuilding unit.
THIS UPDATE CAME FROM OUR FACEBOOK PAGES AS AND WHEN THINGS OF INTEREST HAPPENED
As most of you will know MB Developments will be on the move again. All been well and nothing falls through his will be our 11th move! The last time Mark said 'never again' but 5 years later we have grown so much its time to really think where we want to be in 10 - 20 years.
We know employees come and go but we have a good team, our employees look after family's and look towards MB and what we do to put bread on the table. And as part of the move we have looked at our staff to give them a rosy future towards retirement.
Non of us are getting younger and this move will make or break us, mentally and physically.
Mouse with help from Daft lad has been painting the inside of the building. The painting will take at least two months and throughout this cold spell and it's taking its toll.
So why are we doing it?
Well for those who do not know, MB Developments work out of 6 Industrial Units, which are all split. The bills add up and it makes no sense any more, we have to pay 6 x rents, rates, electrics, heating, water, alarms, fire rentals, insurance etc. And then we run split shifts with our employees and each unit has to be policed and managed. We are basically grinding to a halt! And with all that, we only have a small trade counter with not a lot to show off and we rely on advertising, new products and web photos to show what we have for sale.
This long term recession doesn't help anyone, times are hard we admit it, the more employees you have the harder it gets. Costs are spiraling, every delivery seems to have a price increase. Deliveries from around the world are expensive, with some parts you have to weigh up postage against the cost of the parts. We have swallowed as much as we can for a few years, this can not carry on in any business!
We started discussions for the move back in June 2010, its a long winded process. If it goes to plan and it never does we should be trading in March.
So what will change?
The move gives us expansion room in all departments, at first we will be rattling around in an empty building, but in a few months things will move forward and fill up. We will have a shop, yes a real shop at 2000 sq ft 185sq m, which we are designing as an Ikea type shopping experience with parts, products, bikes, Scooters and clothing on display. Of course we will have our stores but these will be a lot more open and easier to work with. The workshop will be massive, 8'000 sq ft of which most will just be open plan, allowing for lorry deliveries. We will have real offices, customers toilets and changing rooms! We may even have a coffee machine!
Don't been blinkered that MB are just Lambretta tuners, we need to move forward and expand not just to survive but for our sanity! Mark's been in business for 23 years after a hospital visit 10 years ago learn't, there is more to life than Lambrettas and health is more important. This lead him to shut up on Saturdays and do something totally different, which lead to Kayak racing, camping, long distant walking, climbing, cycling, traveling and touring Europe on his BMW. And he did it in his usual hard way, as fast as he can for longer, its the competitive side of him. He proceeded to become the Great Britain Nation Veteran Slalom Champion 4 years running! All this whilst MB carried on as usual making new products and developments in the Lambretta world.
All this leads us to where we are now.......... the shop and move!
Using the love of the great outdoors, traveling, trekking and touring on two wheels or two feet Mark's knowledge and experience will show in the new shop passing on his experiences in a way hopefully educating Scooterists, Bikers and Joe Blogs about useful, functional quality products.
If you've looked at www.mbdevelopments.co.uk lately you will have seen the way we are moving forward. To make life a bit easier we have split our web sites up to improve your shopping experience. We started to look at this shopping experience by going back to basics. Would a biker or automatic rider want to buy Schwalbe tyres from a Lambretta shop? ........ And it grew from there, so by splitting the web shops up and putting them under the MB Developments Group name it seemed to make things easier for the customer.
This shopping experience will mean one company, one telephone system, one secure on line banking system allowing you to order one part from each shop. All these websites will be displayed in the new shop.
The shop will show these web sites as displays
Every thing Lambretta as always
Vespa - spares
To start with we are cherry picking certain Vespa items and working up to special deliveries from our European partners. Ron Daley's are donating a new Piaggio GTS for display
Schwalbe Scooter and moped tyres
As sole UK distributors we will displaying a full range of Scooter and now Moped tyres
This is our Automatic scooter side of the business, where we can supply many parts to order from our European suppliers
BGM - spares
As sole UK distributor for Scooter Center Koln De we will be keeping all their BGM branded products for Lambretta, Vespa, Automatic and Classic Autos
This where you can find great cross over ideas for Scooterists and Motorbikers, Triumph are supplying a new Tiger to display some touring products
With our involvement with BMW Motorbikes we will specialise in GS products and Biking ideas for touring, BMW are supplying a new GSA1200 to show and display our products
MB Fastener - products
We already keep a vast range of industrial fasteners, these will be available in bulk at discount trade prices
Here you will find toys for boys, universal toys for Bikes, Scooters and general purpose use
2 - stroke Carburation
We already supply lots of carburetors spares its a better way to see what we have
This is where we will display ideas for all, with items from the outdoor world, crossing over into a functional, casual and adventurous sporting life.
Up to now we are working closely with various manufacturers and suppliers, some are even manufacturing Marks ideas! These suppliers will be kitting us out using their displays.
It's exciting times and if it all comes together there will be something for every.
We have now settled down a little with the new shop move and have found very quickly we are much more efficient which means it will be better for us and better for our customers.
Because of this we have decided to drop the minimum online and mail order levels from £10. What this means is you can now order a part or parts that do not add up to over £10! The only exception is on bottles of oil which we have to charge delivery! Sorry, oil has to get to you without spitting open in the post and it takes time! You would be suprised how many people just want to buy one bottle!
We will still be charging £3 postage for orders under £50, so if you want to buy a screw for 10 pence and you agree to £3 postage then it's fine by us! Yes people do this. Obviously on the £3 postage we are going to make a little bit, but it does take time to process an order. Sometimes it takes so long to process an order that even at £3 it wouldn't cover the labour cost. Because the new shops picking and packing department are more efficient we are going to try it out to help our customers.
So to remind you;
- no minimum order level over the phone or internet
- £3 postage charge under £50 orders
- Free post over £50 orders
We are trying new shop opening times
- Saturdays 10am - 3pm
- Monday to Friday 8.30am - 6pm
If the phone just rings, leave it 20 minutes, we have 4 phone lines and until we get staff levels set up correctly, hopefully by the end of May! We are all still been pulled from one end of the building to the other, so please bare with us.
Ok so we are open for business, but there is still a lot to do in the building which should be done in the next 2 months. Certain priorities had to be done first, we have the phones working along with the internet connections. This has allowed us to set up the stores and get the counter and mail department all set up and working.
In the next few weeks we should get the workshops up and running then Mark can concentrate on setting up the shop, perfectly timed for the open day on September 10th. And between that time we should have started landscaping the out side which to be honest is a little unsightly, this obviously will take time. Still wanting cuttings for trees and shrubs.
Just to let you know why Ive been a bit quiet on here lately. The fact of the matter is I've been busy. The shop has got to a point where it's minor details that need doing, nothing seems to get done however hard I work. But a lot of this is behind the scenes that you don't see.
I've worked hard at setting up the tuning, grinding and fettling shop. It must be the best tuning room any where, better that anything I've ever had. IF we had 3 full time tuners we could all be working all day without asking to borrow this that and the other.
I did my first rebore last last week, at last some engineering! There's still a lot to do to make the room perfect but I'm getting there! The machine shop side is running and finally the lathe is working as from yesterday, so we should be doing tuned kits again very soon.
The old boring bar warmed up at last.
And the first job is a RB250 with welded exhaust port and over bored to 72.5mm with a one off piston. This has been hanging around from last year and we're glad to finally get on top of this job.
The dyno and repair room will be next but a little down on the list, we need to get the welding area up and running for production and people keep asking me to weld up casings! My personal engine rebuilding shop is now painted and should be up and running by the end of the week. I'm not taking any full engine rebuilds until after the open day and maybe a month later as I've planned a big trip to Romania on the bike to get just get away from all this stuff.
The stores haven't been perfectly set up yet but will be in the next few days, we had to wait for more parts bins which turned up, this has given us more room on the shelves and things are really moving on.
We have put some better working practices in place in the last few weeks as the place is so big we need to make sure people are doing their job better than before and we are trying to prevent any silly picking problems. By the end of this week we should have the store set up so any stores person Scooterist or not can pick a parcel perfect.
The Touring, Travelling and Trekking side of the stores is done for now, which took ages, there is so much new stuff to go through.
In the next few weeks is to set the shop up and do the displays, again this will take time. We've finally got the flooring laid and glued but there is more to keep chipping at. We've a couple more employees helping out and taking the pressure of me. The shop is becoming priority as we have stuff to sell that people buy when they see it, we just need to show it off. Indeed I had time to show some products off to some of the York Scooter club and they went away with pockets empty! So in the next few weeks the real shop will be taking place and will be worth a visit.
Mouse is still recovering from his infection and I've gone and got something which has worn me out, Alice says I've over worked myself. I guess working till you drop for 3 months has taken it's toll, today is my first Sunday off, just didn't have the energy to do any more!
We are now getting some constant customers using us, visiting and phoning and placing orders. Our opening times have increased from 8.30am till 6.00pm Monday to Friday and Saturday 10am till 3pm but I've been there on Saturdays with the electrician till 6pm so open even longer. Phil is doing more hours very soon which will let me do a bit more in the unit.
We dropped the minimum order levels over the phone as long as you pay the £3 postage and yes someone bought a screw and paid the postage! Why do people do this! We are making money on postage and not the product. Just to remind you no minimum order levels on orders, £3 postage up to £50 and free post after that.
The way things are going it's going to be all hands on deck to be totally ready for our open day on the 10th of September, we may even open on the Sunday as well, we need to see what interest there is. Depending on the weather it should be a normal....... normal he says open day! We may open up the works department so you can see into the packing department, stores, machine area, tuning, repair and dyno room. Looks like there will be a Pig roast and bar and may even have a 300mph funny car fired up! And hopefully some stalls to make it interesting. If it goes to plan Marcus Lambertz will be here from Schwalbe in Germany to answer questions on Scooter tyres. Andreas may be here from Tucano Urbano explaining the tech side of their excellent products, Philipp may even come from Scooter Center Koln to talk about BGM products. And of course we will be all there talking all things MB.
I doubt if everything will be done and finished by then, but we should be well into the landscaping ready for next year. I want to dig out two ponds, set up flower beds and lay lots of soil to grass over on different levels, we will have the fences done and some trees planted setting up our avenue. This all depends on money which we don't have and it's a juggle to run the normal business cover the building move and look towards having a nice place to work in and a nice place for people to visit. I see it all in my minds eye but nature takes time, so it maybe a few years before the messy outside becomes how I want it. Then who knows we may have camping or sporting weekends! I'm even looking into electric Enduro bikes to run up on the hill.
The main shop is empty apart from a few of the bikes we've done over the years so their just on show.
Still not let Rex have his bike back, Id like to see it on the Schalbe stand that we have to make and show it on the open day.
Well it's all coming together! It's a bit stressful as it feels like its only me doing it all. All this organising and we're still finishing off the workshop side of things so it looks as it should. It won't be finished perfect but there's only a few smallish jobs to do that you won't notice anyway.
So whats going off?
The big down side for us is, I didn't know I had to get a drinks license, Doh, which means we can't charge for beer.................. so it's FREE........... yes free........ free hand pulled beers.
- Lambretta Larger
- Mr Bee Bitter
- and Parts Pale ale!
What a cock up and miss understanding and it's costing us a fortune, so if you would be a bit kind drop some change into the bar staffs tip box! And beer will be there as long as it lasts.
Were also running a raffle on both days, we have all sorts of bits and bobs to give away with each prize. We've not finalised what bits are going on offer but expect some clothing, Scooter parts, books etc so if everyone bought a strip of tickets or a few strips then this will help the bar staff who will be mine and Alice daughters Emma and Natalie and the more tickets you buy the better it will help the beer fund.
Tucano Urbano are doing another draw, if you buy and air bag you get a free summer jacket, or discounts on other parts, worth picking up a leaflet at the beer bar.
Rob Miller is doing a second hand stall, selling off parts from our shop and workshop, so check him out, there may be a bargain or two or something interesting to look at from days gone by at MB.
We have Mark and Lambretta art selling his stickers.
And of course we have the Spit Roast man, doing pig sarnies, burgers, hot dogs and breakfast butties.
For those who want non alcoholic drinks we have cokes, teas and coffees.
We have our German partners coming on motorbikes so catch Marcus Lambertz from Schwalbe Scooter tyres who will answer questions on Scooter tyres and the brand as a whole.
Philipp Montforts will be here from our German partners Scooter Center Koln and will be doing the BGM product range and you never know we may just have a discount on the day for BGM parts.
Paul from Trek Mates outdoor clothing will be floating around to answer questions on technical clothing and we may have a visit from Andy the Ronhill sales rep also.
And of course Andrea will be here on the Saturday showing off and selling the Tucano Urbano range that we keep in the shop.
There will be specials on the day with clothing marked up discounted for the weekend.
We will have Phil, Mouse, Ian and Luke behind the counter with Philipp selling Scooter parts, I will be floating around the shop and outside been pulled all ways I expect. Alice is on hand helping me as well as other friends and family, we even have our accountant mingling around on Saturday. Buster our packing man and Martin our machinist, will be helping out with parking for Scooters and cars. There is loads of parking inside the compound and down the street so no problems there, we hope.
We will have the roller shutter doors up where you can walk around parts of the workshop and get an insight to some of the work we have put into the building. We expect Sunday to be a bit quieter and given time if you ask we can walk you behind the scenes and see what only a few get to see.
In the shop you can see our Serious outdoor side of things, everything to do with Touring, Traveling and Trekking, be it on two feet, two wheels, or a plan, train or automobile. It's all about practical ideas for travelers, walkers, climbers, sports people and casual gear for everyone, including motor bike jackets and trousers, boots, socks, base layers, waterproofs, windproofs, bags and rucksacks.
It's about clothes you can stuff into a bag, pull out and without using an iron you can wear them down the pub. It's about clothes that can be worn day after day without smelling. There really is a lot of great gear and if you can collar me I can walk around and show you the benefits of what we stock. We've impressed outdoor and bike reps who have never seen anything like it in their travels, we've even had Sargent Majors visit, Paramedics, Sportsmen and BMW managers who all say the same.
The shop is new it's something we are building on as we go and feel our way. It's not just about Scooters, It's about Biking, Walking, Climbing, Canoeing, Rowing, Running and Cycling.......... well there's stuff for any sport and it's full of casual sports gear that's proved it's self around the world and still looks good in the all important pub.
Apart from the stress it going to be a good day, the feed back is, it's going to be busy with plenty of Scooter clubs coming and going all weekend. There's a few other dealers coming to float around so I'm sure you will all have a good day. The Doncaster Hunters are having there do on Saturday night during the day they are having ride outs to our place.
So come a say hello and spend some money. If it goes well we may be doing it as a indoor and outdoor parts fair as well in the future!
Serious outdoors side of the company has been developing unknowingly for many years, it's based on all the outdoor sports I have done and enjoyed since child hood. I've done a lot of long distance walking, mountain walking and scrambling. I've camped many times and I've trained hard and raced Slalom canoes for many years and won the UK championship 4 times. I've cycled and mountain biked and traveled to many interesting places. I've toured the UK and Europe on Scooters and Motorbikes and all this on top of running the Scooter business, you could say I've had a busy life.
We looked at setting up two web sites - Bike Rite and Travel Rite last year, we didn't feel these were building right so integrated both of them into SERIOUS OUTDOORS because this came about with a conversation with my designer who said Mark your really serious about outdoors and so it stuck especially when .com and .co.uk was free we couldn't believe it.
So that's it, I'm Serious about outdoors and this is how the shop will be progressing along with the new web site which needs doing.
With what I've learnt in extreme circumstances and the knowledge I've gained Serious Outdoors is a way to combine products from different sports and outdoor activities. It combines bike gear with outdoor walking and climbing gear. Of course there is specialist equipment that will not cross over into other sports. You would not use a padded Motorbike jacket to walk a hill, but you could find a walking or climbing jacket to ride a Scooter. Base layers cross over into all walks of life, the shop is full of it.
You will find we offer base layers from many companies, T shirts, long sleeved and zipped sleeves. Base layers are very important, the theory for extreme conditions is; you need to layer the clothing. Starting with the base layer next to your skin, then a mid layer, then a outer wind stopper or waterproof. The trick to get this system working is to control body heat and sweat. The right base layer will wick heat away from the body preventing sweating which can kill or at least be uncomfortable. And Serious Outdoors is about making life more comfortable what ever sport you do or riding a bike or sitting in the pub.
And the story goes on to mid and outer layers. We have chosen manufacturers that offer a great product with a good price, sure I can find cheaper products but you pay for what you get and sure I can find a lot more expensive products, it's a combination of the two based on quality. Some of this gear you may have never seen before, if you don't try it you may never now how comfortable you will feel riding your bike or Scooter.
Some of the product names you will never know, these are not high street brands they are specialist brands in their own fields, think of MB and what we offer, these brands do the same sort of thing with the same amount of passion.
So what will you see in store, well it's a bit of a mis-match but it works, it combines products that work in all conditions, products for a kid through to a granny, it's a place to find reasonably priced products where you could get a birthday or Christmas present for you or her or the kids. There's some great products with a history and a story with every product.
We have boots ideal for everyday wear including working, walking or riding a bike. We have socks for every occasion and sport. We have base layer trousers, pants and shirts for all year round use in all conditions. We have wind and water proof trousers and tops. we have ruck sacks, bum bags and luggage bags. We have outdoor jackets and bike and Scooter gear. We've got practical ideas for ever day used to keep clothing and equipment dry. There is safety ideas, tools and multifunction knifes, torches and the list goes on.
He's some brands and what they are about.
Coming from Norway this company really knows how to keep you warm in extreme conditions, it supplies the Norwegian Army. Good enough for them good enough for me, Ive tested every product, they specialise in Merino Wool the worlds finest wool from New Zealand. The clothing regulates heat like no other clothing, it uses the old string vest type design, ok I say its gimp gear and your nipples may stick out but it doesn't matter when your exercising to extreme or sweating your knackers off in the sun with a bike jacket on. The stuff works it's a second skin you will only know how good it is if you wear it. They also do mid and top layers which have some great biking ideas that no others offer. Worth a look at, honest.
This is a Scottish company who specialise in outdoor mountain and walking sports, it crosses over into everyday life. The flagship product is their Munro jacket used by the Cairngorm mountain rescue team, trust me I've seen them in it in Snow, I've used it in rain and snow. They have some great ideas in their weather proof systems. I've visited the factory and they can prove Goretex doesn't work! You wont find Goretex in our building, been there and tried it. The best gear is the one that drags heat from the body preventing sweating but at the same time keeping you warm and dry. Keela offer lots of products from base to mid to top layers and at a price which is incredible comparing to other well known brands.
Original Mountain Marathon, aimed at crazy guys who run over the Lake District for two days, they have to carry tents, sleeping bags, food, spare clothing and safety equipment, 4000 people enter the race and the they specialise in super light weight gear to do the race. We keep their waterproof light weight jackets, pants, and rucksacks. Alice liked my OMM rucksack so much she nicked mine, so I had to get another, they have traveled world on trips and clung to our backs for miles. All the OMM gear is brilliant and worth a look for walking, jogging, climbing, biking or motor biking.
Trekmates offer so much for the outdoor life aimed at walking, climbing, traveling and running. There's some great ideas for normal or casual life. They specialise in clothing made from Merino wool and Bamboo which both kills bacteria making sure you don't smell if you sweat and a shirt can be worn for weeks on end without the smell, trust me it works. The shirts are ideal base layers for bikers, warm when wet making then safer to wear. They also do some great packable ideas for camping, touring and trekking and nice casual gear too.
Perhaps a name you know, it's all aimed at running and jogging, to be honest it's spoilt in those sports, it's great for other sports and brilliant sports casual gear, I'm always in the pub in it. Because its aimed at running the designs are striking with reflective piping and bright panels. They offer super light weight jackets which screw up to nothing and fit in your pocket, yet practical when you wear them, me and Mouse used these little jackets on the Spanish Euro and we didn't get wet!
Aimed at Scooterists and Bikers with Italian designs. All this gear gets great write ups in Scootering and Ride magazines, we get brilliant feed back from customers. It looks good and works, from their base layers to a all year round jacket and water proof Nano clothing.
Comes from the running back ground but really well known in the Motorbike sector, it's that cross over thing again. Outdoor gear into biking and biking into outdoor gear. EDZ specialise in wicking base and mid layers.
Coming from Finland they know their stuff, they also own Rukka the most expensive bike gear around so they are not daft. They sponsor the the Finish winter Olympics so understand about products that need to work. Saying all this they know pricing and product, with trousers that work in the jungle and desert, I've tested them in both and they work and look just as good down the town. They do a cracking waterproof and windproof vest ideal for biking and socialising.
Well known in the bike world for there life time guarantee luggage and universal bike products. There new bike bags have been a big hit, water proof, compressable with safety in mind. We stock single bags, pannier bags and rucksacks.
Never seen it, check it out, I've used their bags on my BMW which have been strapped to it for 41'000 miles and never leaked. Their rucksacks are bike designed and the quality is incredible.
SEA TO SUMMIT
Little known but growing, coming from Australia the main man walked from sea to the top of the world and said there's got to be lighter gear than this, so he made it. They make lots of super light weight simple ideas which impresses the best of us in the business.
I found ICON by chance looking for some new Rukka clothing for my next bike trip to the Balkans. And I'm so glad I did, it's got more about it than Rukka coming from America the quality and ideas are the best. So good I bought the jacket and ordered the trousers and so did the first customer to see the stuff. With ideas other bike manufacturers can only think about. If you're serious about biking with safety and weather in mind, don't bother with anything else and it wont break the bank.
Along with Icon Moose gear is perfect for Scooters and bikes offering bags of all descriptions, every bag was sold to the first customers who saw them, so good I ordered more and again without he big price but with American quality.
Wind from Italy is aimed at off road Enduro riding, good quality very reasonably priced waterproof Bike gear. We stock various jackets and trousers ideal for all biking and Scootering.
A UK company offering lots of choice in bike gear with jackets, trousers and water proofs. Pack away water proof trousers for £16! All in one suits for £40! Take a look along with other Key collection clothing from MILANO there is some great bargains to be had.
And we have lots of other stuff, too much to mention, but all worth a look, there's something for everyone without breaking the bank.
Not sure what you want and your coming to our open weekend, grab me and ask the questions and I will give my best advice. We have changing rooms to try the stuff, we may be limited with sizes and stock as I've said we are new and learning, we can get other sizes and colours for most products if you want.
Above all check out the prices you will be pleasantly suprised I'm sure, there should be a budget for everyone. some of it we will be offering discounts over the weekend. And don't forget you will get your MB discount on all clothing the same as Scooter parts, can't say fairer than that can we?
Mike Maxwell asked a good question about stock control on FB, this was our answer
Scootering has changed a lot over the last few years, indeed it has changed over our 24 years in the business.
There's been times when cut down and choppers were normal and yes I cut down Sx frames to make these things for customers, times changed, people went down the TS1 route then back to standard, chopper bars and gear changes sold in the hundreds at one point and now nothing. Then restoration took over etc etc, people who went back to standard eventually went down the cast tuning and again back to TS1's!
It's trends, they come and go, there are trends now from forum talk that some people think are new and they invented it, I was doing most of these things, back in the 80's and 90's, it's trends. They come and go!
So Mike asked about stock or lack of stock shown on the web side!
There are few reasons for this;
- Last year we had no spare money to do much, whatever we took, as always we put it back into new products as we have always done. As long as I can pay the bills, keep the employees, have my toys, holidays and travel and break even, I have always been happy. Then this bloody recession came and never went, fuel prices have shot up and all or purchases and bills have gone up massively! This means we never had any lump sum sat there waiting for a down turn in trade. Sales were slowing so I looked at what to do, we needed more fingers in pies, if one finger stopped taking money then others helped out. Supplies of Indian parts were drying up, the country was flooded with cheap crap from the Far East. There were more fly by nights jumping on the Scooter band wagon, doing parts fairs for cash whilst they worked for someone else during the week. Every bill we got was going up and up weekly! It was snow balling out of control we had to look at our business. Stock was the major problem, we had tons of stock which had been paid for, all our money was tied up in stock, we needed to reduce stock and turn it into money and sales, sales to survive, tighten our belts and specialise in our own products. All this has taken it's toll and take times to sort and move forward.
- We are constantly called expensive, I really don't know why? We make so much more than others in the Uk, these parts are not like for like with India or the Far East. UK made parts costs a fortune! To get a better more competitive price we had to buy in bulk, which we realised was crippling us! If we were making 500 of an item to get a price affordable for the customer these may have lasted 5 years, we would ask for 200 items so there wasn't so much stock but then the price doubled so it was always a toss up as what to do with every part! Then to add insult to injury some of our UK suppliers have not supplied. We order various parts at the start of the year and still they have not turned up and we have now missed the season! We have lost £70K from 3 products where the UK suppliers are just taking the piss with us over the last 6 months! What will happen is these parts will turn up any day and need paying towards Christmas when no one spends money on Scooters! This has happened with the same suppliers for 4 years now and as much as they promise hey do not deliver! We get as pissed off with the problem as you do.
So times are hard, business and manufacturing are even harder, times have changed, some parts which we could not get fast enough weekly three years ago now sits on the shelf. We stocked based on sales over the years, when you look at £10K worth of stock on a shelf that hasn't moved for a year you realise something is wrong. People are not restoring Scooters like that used to, some would be doing up 2 or 3 at a time and money was no object, today it is not like that. We look at it and have meetings constantly, we never find an answer we just have to knuckle down and get on with it.
So based on all this, we have done a few different sales, moved stock to help the move and a summer sale. When we moved we saw what stock we actually had, now we have new stores and space, this helps out to see stuff more clearly. The new move has made a better stores, we have bins which we can see are empty instead of just relying on our very good computer system, as Ian says a real human can now over see stuff. Some stuff has sold so fast it takes us by surprise and others still sit there. We found instead of stocking 5 or 10 items to get a price, we stocked the odd one or two and found the price to be the same as others are finding it hard to, like us they are frightened to put up prices to help with all the bills. What we are taking now earns less, we all have had to tighten our belts.
- Then we have the move, times were hard well before we found this building, we were grinding to a halt with the old 6 units, it was time to move, but the economy was all wrong to move. It was a gamble and still is and will be for a few years. I'm not a gambling man never have been, I don't even do slot machines, the move is the biggest gamble of my life and the lives of the people who depend on me to keep grub on the table. We knew it wasn't going to be cheap to move, our accountant asked how were we going to fund it? We had no savings, the bank wanted my house which I wasn't going to do, it wasn't fair to Alice if it went wrong. We had nothing up our sleeve for a rainy day, I had personally invested my spare money into the Serious outdoor stock spreading purchases over a year, so it came down to daily takings. Based on what we knew over the last few years I thought we could do it, then as we moved for what ever reasons we could not pin point, takings shot down but the bills got higher because of the move and building bills........ the knock on effect and because we were all so busy working to get the building and shop to turn into money, we basically tightened our belts and sold as much stock as we could therefore not doing as many new products, stocking up for the sake of it like we had done for years to be that one stop Scooter shop!
- As we developed out new web sites expanding the various ways to make our stock move we invented the 'notify me button' it is a simple way for customers to tell us they are interested in a product. It a different way than us saying 'hey we should get some of these parts in, the bin is empty' then only to find we wasted money as they didn't sell and there was no interest! This does actually works, daily we get requests and we do something about it, the computer is updated when stock comes in and the customer gets an automatic update to stock. This can take time, some parts are hard to get, even simple things like clutch plates, the Italians are a pain in the arse, no clutch plates anywhere, every dealer is in the same boat, totally out of our hands. Some stock we know we can get the next day so it's easy. Non of our dealer network buy for stock, they buy when they have a job to do. Instead of us trying our best to be this 'One stop Scooter shop' and be their stores, we to are relying on our suppliers and using them as our stores, this is a change in business, sometimes it pays off sometimes it doesn't...... the knock on effect is some parts are hard to get making it frustrating for our customers. But we are been honest by using the 'notify me' button. Other dealers and web shop sellers don't tell you stock at point of sale! You order the part and it doesn't turn up, then you hear all the stories, basically they list it as stocked but they are not stocking so there is a delay until they can find the product and supply. We tried it, it's a nightmare and one that we think is a bad service. And SERVICE is everything to us, get that right and customers will keep coming back over the years.Outdoor shops and bike shops are the same, they show it as stock then order it for you!
By adding this button it does give the feeling that our stock is low on a lot of parts, if you looked around our stores and you know the system and how long it takes to get parts in you would understand what we are up to and it's not a big problem. Now the building is done ready for the open weekend, things should get a bit better as we have started re stocking.
We could remove this 'notify me' button and you would presume everything is on stock......... it's just a false impression!
As we are developing our Serious Outdoor side of the business I'm learning so much, the Lambretta side does have lots of stock, the outdoor world are doing pre orders for 6 - 12 months in advance, it's a strange way of doing business, no company keep stock, they pre order guaranteeing sales constantly in front of themselves! Strange but true, I try to stock products which I know is kept on stock in the Uk to replenish our sold items, some though were pre ordered a year before, when its gone its gone and I have to find something else to replace it.
Remember I started my business coming off the dole with not a penny! A year later my business was burn down from an arson attack, I've been divorced and been in hospital and divorced again, life has never been rosy in this world I live, I've never been given money, I've never had money, what I've made I've but back into new products! But through all that I'm still trying to keep my head above water, stay in business and service the scootering world.
We're trying, customer feed back means a lot to us, keep asking and we can alter things and hopefully for the better! Id love someone to give me a million, I would stock every know Scooter part made and if not made we would make it, but I'm afraid life is not like that.UPDATE
Wow there's been a few treads appearing over the week and some important stuff has dropped off the radar, not sure why, I know if you view FaceBook on a phone it's different to using it with computer. For instance only certain people are using our discussion board, I can't find it on my phone so I guess others have the same problem, but the discussions are worth a view and some interaction.
Back to it.......... the main thing this week is our open weekend, we've been really hard at it, even more than the rest of the year. The open weekend is important to us and I hope it will be for the customers coming.
The down side is the weather is looking a bit crap but warm, don't worry we have loads of room to house hundreds of people if they turn up. The shop is big and the over flow in the works department is big and will house the stalls, pig roast and drinks bar.
There's loads of important people coming to help out and few dealers will be calling in, there's plenty of parking for cars and Scooters, all in all it should be a good weekend, don't forget Doncaster Hunters are having their do to so even worth staying over and calling back in for a hairy Bacon burger on the Sunday morning.
I guess your all interested in Scooters and what we can show you. We're not JUST Scooters anymore we're much more, our shop isn't a shrine to Lambrettas. Of course our stores are mainly Lambretta but we like to think our store will be interesting to lots of people of all walks of life and interests.
So what can you expect to see?
As you enter the shop you will see employee Ian 'Mouse' Marrisons Lambretta GP Lambretta tradespares custom/road race bike. There are plenty of photos in our photos sections. We built this for Mouse's 50th birthday last year it was his present to himself to do the Euro in Spain, but we never went because I ran out of time building my bike ....... another story to follow! Mouse's bike is on our village green camp site, as the store is about traveling, camping part of the big fun picture of Serious Outdoors.
BMW have been very good and are supplying a BMW GS Adventure fully kitted to show the little and large from a Scooter to a massive bike which you can travel just as well and enjoy touring on 2 wheels. Marks main bike is a GSA, he knows all about them and can relay experiences from the 41'000 miles he has toured on. We even make a few parts for them and work very closely with our local BMW supplier Rainbow Motorcycles who is one of the best voted bike shops in the UK year after year.
We have built our Schwalbe Scooter and Moped tyre display, showing off all the Schwalbe brand on top of it is our train track displaying our Schwalbe customised GP MB RT190 Lambretta. This owned by Marks oldest friend Rex who will be around on Sunday sporting a hangover form the Doncaster Ledger on Saturday.
We've moved Mark's Lambretta Alwyn Pushpak up stairs displaying high above the shop. This has been Mark's touring Scooter for a number of years, it has been as far as Austria and Slovenia on one trip. It's been to the South of France and numerous in land rallies as well as racing the coast to coast twice, one year it was winning the race for 60 miles until the fuel ran out and came second after filling up. Another year it won, racing with ex MB Team rider Hammy on a tuned Gilera Runner, which had the legs over the Lambretta on the tight twistys which was over geared and over jetted, on the open road the Lambretta left the Gilera standing. Sticky claims to have won the race on his Honda CR250 powered Lambretta, we say cheating, we even carried our bag of clothes, Sticky used a van for that. So the Pushpak won based on Lambretta engined Lambretta first home....... then someone said the Pushpaks not a Lambretta! Anyway the bike was rebuilt last year with a new engine which should have cost £12'000...... it has a one off made Reed valve cylinder, piston, crank, 5 speed UK made close ratio gearbox with a one off 11 plate clutch and new constant adjusting chain slipper! In fact the whole bike is a one off It even has three fuel tanks and one off luggage racks.
Marks Carbon Kevlar GP genuine UK Electronic Lambretta is also upstairs on display. Again there are plenty of one off products on it. It was the Scooter he used for the Isle Of Man 100th TT where it spent a full week racing the course and trashing Super bikes, clocked at 105mph with the unwelded 37bhp engine. It's light as a feather with again a one off fully coated only one of its kind Carbon Kevlar Scooter. We've still have all the original body work which was used as the tooling for Carbon bits, we still have the engine and if someone offered enough money we could restore it to its former glory!
Also upstairs is Mark's KTM 200 EXC which he again took to the IOM TT for a week thrashing it around and racing the mountain pass. Great fun and recommended to anyone, unfortunately after a few crashes and falls as you do, he damaged his spine and hasn't sat on it or sat in a Kayak since. His back problem was cured by Paul Woods of Cleethorpes a good customer of MB's and well worth a visit if you have a bad back.
As for bikes that's it for now Mark's GS will be outside along with Motorbikes from Germany and of course we expect a few Scooters parked up.
This week we have been restocking lots of new biking products. Andrea will be there with a good Tucano Range. Paul will be there showing off the Trek Mates range and it's confirmed the OMM and Ronhill reps will be around also along with Philipp from Scooter Center Koln showing off the BGM brand, plus Marcus from Schwalbe.
The Wiess clothing delivery turned up offering excellent bike riding gear at great prices, the new Ronhill collection will be there as is the cracking Icon bike clothing, if you've never seen Icon clothing before take time to check it out, it will blow your mind its, light years ahead of other biking gear only for Serious riders!
So come and say hello and remember it's free hand pulled beer, but be generous with the tips for the girls and buy a raffle ticket for the 60 prizes on offer, this way we can cover the cock up with the beer license we didn't get.
FINAL UPDATE.............. SORT OF
That's a long read I know, it takes Mark from a teenager to the big move to Denaby. And it takes us through the hard times we hit, mainly through the big move! Some of the shop information has altered since we wrote the step by step guide to our move. We're still in business and trading as normal, well as normal as we can be in these times. In 2011 we had to totally restructure our business and the way we traded which can be read here and as they say that is history................ I'm sure it doesn't stop there, there will be more to come!