Ian Hill, managing director of Activa Contracts, has retired after almost 60 years working in the automotive industry.
The occasion was marked with a celebration party attended by colleagues, family, friends and customers at Woburn Golf Club.
Hill launched Activa Contracts in 2000, with five members of staff and no premises. Today, it has more than 50 employees, a head office in Milton Keynes, and is a vital part of Arnold Clark Finance, contributing 7,000 vehicles to the risk fleet ,with a further 1,200 company cars and vans under fleet management.
He said: “I reflect back on 20 years of happiness at Activa Contracts as I consider building the business up from absolutely nothing to what it is today with the potential for further growth to be my proudest professional achievement.
“I know that I leave Activa Contracts in a great place with a dynamic team geared up to tackle future challenges - plug-in company cars and vans and future fuels, autonomous vehicles and employee mobility - being the three issues at the forefront of the fleet industry as a new decade starts.
“There are signs that the UK economy is regaining confidence in the wake of last year’s general election. Additionally, with the country now exiting the European Union following much uncertainty that hampered corporate decision-making, I’m confident that Activa Contracts has an exciting future ahead.”
Lisa Temperton, sales and marketing director, and Peter Smith, finance director, who along with Ian was a founder of Activa Contracts, will now lead the business with support from David Cooper, managing director of parent company Arnold Clark Finance, which also includes Arnold Clark Vehicle Management and Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental.
Eddie Hawthorne, CEO and group managing director of Arnold Clark Automobiles, said: “Three words sum up this gentleman: Professional, calm and caring. It has been an honour to work with him and I and my fellow directors have truly valued his professionalism, business ethics and, most of all, his friendship. We wish him well in his retirement.”
Hill, who last year was inducted into the fleet industry Hall of Fame created by trade publication Fleet News, left school at the age of 15 without taking his O-levels.
He took an apprenticeship in February 1961 as a motor mechanic and that started him on a career path that took him into service management and then into a group head office business development role that saw him build a truck and van rental business from scratch, which was later expanded to incorporate vehicle leasing for cars and commercial vehicles.
Prior to co-founding Activa Contracts, he spent almost 40 years with a group originally known as Tricentrol, which through name and ownership changes eventually became Trimoco Motor Group and then Hartwell Contracts before a strategic ownership change meant the contract book was sold and the business closed.
He said: “I’ve not been out of work for a day in my life. After the news about the closure of Hartwell Contracts broke, Peter Smith and I were fortunate to meet with Eddie Hawthorne and the late Hugh Wallace, of Arnold Clark, who wanted to expand their contract hire operations south of the border from their Scottish base. The result was Activa Contracts, which was set up over a handshake.
“There were only five members of Activa to begin with and the company had no premises to work out of so combined a mixture of working out of each other’s homes to get the business started from scratch.”
In retirement Hill, married with four sons, plans to spend more time on the golf course, tending to his garden, greenhouse and vegetable plot and follow the England cricket team around the world.
Photo caption: Ian Hill (front, centre) flanked by Peter Smith and Lisa Temperton with colleagues, family, friends and customers.