I hope the following story about Preston-based local business Longton Battery Services Ltd could be of interest as a good news feature about a successful company doing well serving Lancashire and the surrounding area

Longton Battery Services Ltd Alan Secker’s local battery supply business, Longton Battery Services Ltd has come a very long way since he launched it from his mum’s garage 20 years ago this month! In 1991 Alan was a young, but enthusiastic member of the team at the local Exide battery distributor in Preston when he had the chance to venture out on his own and start his business. “I don’t think they really took me seriously when I said I was going to go my own way,” said Alan, “but I was convinced I could make a go of it. “However, to buy and sell batteries I obviously needed transport, so I bought an old van, which because nobody would take me seriously I had to sign write myself using masking type and an aerosol. I also had the problem that although I could store some batteries in the van I really needed more room, so I took over my mum’s garage for what I thought would be a couple of months, but turned out to be for more than a year! “Looking back it all does sound a bit hit-and-miss and the effort needed to start that van was something that had to be seen to be believed. I sometimes even had to lift the bonnet and hold the carburettor open with a screwdriver and then run back round and pull it out before the engine exploded once it had started!” Not withstanding those initial challenges, it was what Alan was doing out in the field that was building the foundations for the future of the business and just over a year later, he moved into the first of a number of different units. In 2001 Alan had the opportunity to move into the present location in Fylde Road in Preston. “The business has been built on providing a regular delivery service to local trade customers and that remains our core focus. However, what the move into shop front premises has done is to enable us to expand our customer base to include the consumer, which has brought with it the need for a very different kind of product offering. “Consumers are generally less interested in replacing their car batteries, they are usually happy to leave that to their local garage, who make up the majority of our trade customers anyway. “It’s the specialist battery applications like leisure batteries for caravans, marine batteries for boats or motorcycle batteries that the public have the biggest need for, so it was for these batteries that we really needed some help.” Although Alan had been a long-term customer of car and commercial vehicle batteries from the UK’s major battery distributor, Manbat, it was with the acquisition of the shop that he realised he needed to call upon their expertise with the supply of these other batteries. “After a just a couple of meetings with the Manbat team, it was clear that we were talking the same language and it didn’t take us long to agree that we should be Manbat’s first ‘Specialist Supply Partner’. “The agreement, which was made in 2003, has meant that although we are still a privately owned business, we are able to offer customers a complete range of batteries to cater for virtually every power storage related sector on an equal footing as Manbat’s other wholly owned branches. With this backing Longton now serves the local community with a comprehensive range of motorcycle, golf, leisure, marine and mobility batteries and battery chargers alongside its core products for the motorist. Those further afield can also benefit from Longton’s great experience in the battery market by logging on to its popular website – - to see the vast range of products available online for next day delivery. “Although we have embraced changes to the business, we will not ignore the trade customers that form the backbone of the business and to supplement our existing routes throughout the Lancashire area we have just launched a new route to serve the South Lakes. “The new route has meant we’ve had to buy a new van, but those who see it need not worry, my days of painting signs on the side of vans are long gone!” Going from a one-man/one-van band operating from a private garage, to a thriving business employing four people with a fleet of vehicles is a great achievement for the local lad with big ideas. For further details, please call Longton Battery Services on: 01772 731953 or email: ENDS