by Dan Bysouth
Back in Majors Corner now as a parts delivery driver, I was now part of a major supplier of Unipart parts and accessories.
We had two floors of merchandise and delivered all over East Anglia. There were four full time drivers and each one did a shorter morning run and then the longer afternoon delivery. I was asked to learn all routes but would in the long run take as my own the whole Suffolk route as it was the one with the biggest accounts.
There were many members of staff in the stores and we will meet them as we go on. The guy showing me the way round was Greg. He was a long service stores man who knew all the routes off by heart. He was a law unto himself though. He taught me where every sweetshop was, all the best cafes and when to turn up at any certain garage so as to be in time for a cuppa. He was a star. His directions were strange, to say the least. One was to take a left turn on the second piece of dual carriageway, then count three lamp posts on the left and turn right at the next hedge! It was spot on. The garage was called Firs Garage Of Uggeshall, Suffolk.
One which I was absolutely sure was a wind up was to take the road to Norwich, then "... when you see a goat on the left hand side of the road, turn left and the garage is slap bang in the middle of the road in the next village". He was spot on with that one, too - Fiveways Garage of Mendlesham, Suffolk. Clever lad Greg, I learned every route with him and enjoyed every minute of it.
Early on I had to visit every garage that we supplied as we had a promotion on Unipart oil. I think the part no was GGL 105. Each box contained 4 x 5 litres. It took me all day to do this, but unbeknown to me some of the garages had called the boss and said how pleased they were with the new driver. I was chuffed.
Once I was getting to know the guys in the garages they got to know that I had been in the bodyshop, done a stint in mechanics and also in the paint shop. They started to ask if I could get them this certain part or that set of plugs, the sort of things they would phone up for or see the rep on the one day a week he called. As one owner told the boss, “It’s great - at last we have someone who knows a spark plug from a sump plug”. This went in my favour too. I found that after a few weeks I could easily complete my route and be back at base by 2.30 to 3.00pm. I knew the other two drivers did not return much before 5pm so they could go straight home. One used to go home and wait there till he could just drop the van and leave, the other one slept in a certain lay-by daily, I know because I drove past him one afternoon.
I had been there around 2 to 3 months when I was told I was getting a brand new van , a Morris Ital 575. regn VGV 389X. It was lovely to drive after humping a Sherpa Luton around, only thing was we had to deliver engines, gold and silver seal. In the Luton - no problem, but a bit awkward in the ITAL. So they gave me a trailer. It slowed me down but it was very useful. With us being an exhaust centre we delivered a lot of them. They were very awkward to load as they mostly had to be bunji strapped to the roof rack. A busy day and you could easily have to load up to the rafters.
As I was known by all at Major’s Corner, bosses included, if anyone’s van broke down and we asked the sales manager to borrow a vehicle it was me who was given the sales car or whatever, and the other driver had my van. That's how, one day I was driving a brand new Range Rover Van Den Plas on my morning delivery run. I was king of the road but felt really chuffed when told only I was to drive it, and the same went for any hire car we had to get to. I did not know it but I was being talked about by certain people and it was for good reasons not bad. When I returned in the afternoons I would get involved with putting away the stock orders. It fascinated me that when you looked for a certain part, if you went to bin ref AS1P the exact part you wanted was there. The part numbers for Unipart started to register in my head, GEX, exhausts, GSP, spark plugs, GLB, bulbs and so on.
I also got to know how to write out invoices to supply a certain customer the part he had ordered. Also as some parts were not kept in stock we ordered them. If it was a part we did not keep in stock at all and the customer no longer required it usually they could not return it, but if they were a good customer we could set it up as a new stock item. With this you had to actually make a new position for the part, I loved doing this and as my writing was liked by the stores secretary, I was the only driver allowed to do it.
I was having the time of my life; I still saw the guys on the CBR floor and all in all, it seemed that things could be no better. I had found a good job at which I could excel as a result of time spent in the body shop. Then one Friday, the boss told me I had to attend a meeting with him and others in his office on Mon morning. That worried me – “What could this be about?”
Find out next time!
Part 1 - Triumph Stag
Part 2 - Interceptor
Part 3 - Rolls-Royce
Part 4 - Her Majesty vs the Honey Monster
Part 5 - Rolls, Allegros and an MGB causes trouble
Part 6 - Rain
Part 7 - Brassy and a Rover SD1
Part 8 - A P6 and a Big Bird
Part 9 - The End of an Era