The barometer of any good business is the extent of growth, not only in scale, customers, turnover, and most importantly in my view, the number and more important, calibre of people employed. I have watched uTrack grow and develop over the last 9 nine years, there is a saying that most people are familiar with, “From little acorns mighty oak trees grow” and from my experience in business this has proved often to be the case. Looking back to the start of my career I was part of a journey that started with one small bus Company based in the West Midlands. Midland Red West was one of the Bus Companies that were formed when the National Bus Company the then state owned Bus Company owned over 50 Bus Companies across the UK this included the’ mighty’ Midland Red Bus Company . Back in the day it was a huge organisation that was split after de-regulation in 1986 into 5 separate trading Companies.
As a young man in my mid twenties in 1987, I was part of a 10 person buy out team, the MD “Big” Ken Mills kindly lent me £1,000 which was interest free in order that I could invest some capital into the venture. Once we had brought the Company , it was valued and we were given shares in my case I had shares that were valued at 5 pence. After 18 months we had brought another two Companies, Bristol City Line, and Midland Red West Coach Company, we were then brought out by a bus Company called Badgerline and suddenly my 5p share was worth £3.50p an increase of 70 fold. Badgerline then merged with the Grampian Bus Company in Aberdeen, and they changed their name to First Bus. Today in 2018 First Group employ over 100,000 people and turn over over £7 billion and are a top 250 FTSE Company. To be fair that is one blooming great big Oak tree by any yardstick.
Truly a fairytale but a real one, Had I any idea that such a massive Company would ever rise from the ashes, or indeed that I would be employed there for 20 years which I was. Did I ever dream that I would end up in Poland recruiting over 3,000 Polish bus drivers to work in the UK, absolutley not, but that is what I ended up doing. So when by chance I first met with Eamonn Hughes and Conor Gildea, back in 2007 did I ever think that 11 years later I would be working for uTrack and that I would watch them embark on a journey that started with them tracking 4 buses that operated between Redditch to Birmingham for the Diamond Bus Company operating the 176 bus service operated under contract by Worcestershire County Council.
Fast forward to 2018 and today uTrack is one of the world’s biggest Companies within its niche cloud based sector, with offices in Dublin, Birmingham, and London. We work with some of the most iconic bus Companies in the world. National Express coach Company (which my dad used to be the Chief Executive of, as indeed he was also the General Manager or MD of the Midland Red Bus Company, where of course I started my career). Greyhound Bus and First Student, and of course First UK Bus, where I was once an employee myself. Amazing really how my life allowed me to step in and out of these Companies that so shaped my formative years both growing up, and now growing old have allowed me to be a part of. But, that is how the cookie crumbles.
Reflecting upon it I look back with pride at what has been achieved by the team at uTrack, we have a great collection of really good people mostly from Ireland (north and south) but from all over, Lithuania, Germany, Romania, the International list continues.The one common trait however is that they are very able, competent, and decent, guys and girls, so reflecting the culture and the principles of the co-founders. This journey is still ongoing with more business opportunities around the world appearing on the radar, and in truth no one knows what the future holds. But I can honestly say that looking back I would not change a thing, good or bad (and there has been a fair share of both I can tell you.)
Whatever happens i have been very blessed with my life in work and that does not even include my work with CILT and my Polish Company who are also doing exceptionally well, delivering pioneering work across Eastern Europe and now with a new office in Canary Wharf to join the two new offices in Warsaw and Krakow. As ever I will go with the flow and take whatever life throws at me, some advice if I may, never take anything for granted in life my friend as it can all go Pete Tong in an instant but just make darned sure that if you get a chance to do something then grab it with both hands. Time to go as I am about to go and plant some acorns, onwards and upwards.