While in the South West I came across another small team, Rapid in Chester. It was running a magazine and becoming involved in small exhibitions too. They focused on a fast-growing subject, that of designing and making both tools, prototypes and products digitally.
Their major focus was on rapid prototyping, and they had gathered an editorial panel of key academics from Warwick and Bath Uni’s, while working closely with leading companies in this emerging market. Like the Fitness team they had launched a related exhibition that was growing in size and they were looking for help on organising and perhaps later sale.
They asked me to be their Chairman, to perform several roles, preparing them for growth, expanding their exhibitions and perhaps look for an onward sale. Once again, I pitched in with redefining their business plan to reflect their ambitions and got involved in day-to-day business decisions that would move us forward. They had an issue that I had experienced many times, they were early, the sector was growing, but did not yet have much girth.
The exhibition proved to be more about a strong conference with an associated exhibition filling the breaks. The first I became involved with was in good shape and had a really strong line-up of speakers for their seminars, the keynote was by Sterling Moss. Jane and I sat with Sterling Moss for the formal dinner – he was such a gentleman, and reminded us so much of Jane’s father in looks and character.
|ASIDE: It was around this time that my son, Matt, describes an incident as him out-braking Lewis Hamilton on the M25. Lewis had just won the GP2 championship and been awarded his F1 seat. He was driving a loan Smart car, when the M25 did its inevitable shudder to a halt, and Lewis ran into the back of Matt’s car. They were both towed off the motorway and the two chatted in the pick-up truck. It would have ended there, except that there were delays in Matt being paid out on his car, presumably based on the circumstances of the Smart loaner. So eventually in despair Matt did sell the story to The Sun who had been pursuing him for it, but he insisted that they must be positive about Lewis, because he and Matt had got on so well.|
In retrospect I can’t recall why or when I started seeking out representative work, I know I attended several Institute of Directors sessions and began to present papers on various subjects and this did bring me in touch with a whole raft of opportunities, some I pursued.
For example, I met a guy at the IoD who had patented a new valve for use in multiple applications. Essentially his USP was that most valves put some part of themself into the pipe’s flow and increase pumping requirements to overcome the obstruction, adding to energy consumed and so on. His design used the geometric shapes of a cylinder so that the valve mechanism, when on, fully blocked the flow, but when off, the gate disappeared into the dimension of the pipe without creating any obstruction. I helped clean up his documentation and researched applications and potential buyers for a small fee and helped sell the idea on to others.