Family firm's 50th year
THIS IS a real family business says Bill Smith, who built Boleyn Transport Ltd from the ground up with his own bare hands. And with a son, a daughter, and two nephews backing him up, and his wife popping in occasionally to help out, it would seem there
THIS IS a real family business" says Bill Smith, who built Boleyn Transport Ltd from the ground up with his own bare hands.
And with a son, a daughter, and two nephews backing him up, and his wife popping in occasionally to help out, it would seem there was never a truer word spoken.
Bill started the breakdown recover and repair company in May, 1959, working out of his garage at home in Becontree Heath, Dagenham.
He worked two jobs and kept his business open seven days a week in order to make it a success.
"I even worked Sundays back in those days" reflects Bill.
"My wife, Anne, would bring me down a pot of stew for my dinner, and I would eat it while I was working."
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Bill learned his trade during his national service in Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in 1957 when he repaired tanks.
His son Steve, used to run his own financial futures company on the London stock exchange before he joined his father 18 months ago.
He calls his dad 'a good old fashioned grafter.'
Now based in their own plot of land with a proper garage and a fleet of recovery trucks, Boleyn Transport have just celebrated their 50th anniversary.
And Steve and his sister Michelle are bringing the company in River Road, Barking, into the 21st century.
The brother and sister team got involved with Barking and Dagenham Enterprise last year and took workshops through CEME in Rainham.
There they learned about how to effectively market their company and give it a more modern image.
Michelle joked: "Image has never meant much to our dad.
"I remember we didn't have a proper sign for the premises for about 20 years!"
Together the Smiths make quite a formidable team, and have just entered the Barking and Dagenham Business Awards for the first time this year.
They hope to win the title for Best Innovation.
Steve said: "Previously our business was built up mostly by word of mouth, and it was successful, but the marketing adds a new dimension.
"Now we advertise the fact that our staff speak so many different languages - it's a real plus point for us because many lorry drivers are Eastern European and know little English, but our guys speak Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, German, and Ukrainian."
There are 37 employees at Boleyn Transport, 14 drivers, 14 technicians, with the rest administration staff.
The company services quite a few fire stations in the area and help repair, service, and maintain engines for the brigade.
The Smith family also do lots of work for local charities, such as St Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.
In April, Michelle and Steve did a skydive in Norfolk to raise money for the charity.