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"Business Life with Reynolds"

In the spotlight with... J F & E Hadwin Family Group

J F & E Hadwin Family Group

As part of our BUSINESS LIFE with REYNOLDS feature, Tom Mylott, one of our Senior Account Managers, got together with Eric and Jason Hadwin from the J F & E Hadwin Family Group.

From repairing vehicles on their family farm to winning multiple awards including 'Land Rover Group of the Year' two years in a row, Tom asked Eric and Jason some questions about the rise of their business and their views about the future of automotive retailing.

As part of our BUSINESS LIFE with REYNOLDS feature, Tom Mylott, one of our Senior Account Managers, got together with Eric and Jason Hadwin from the J F & E Hadwin Family Group.

From repairing vehicles on their family farm to winning multiple awards including 'Land Rover Group of the Year' two years in a row, Tom asked Eric and Jason some questions about the rise of their business and their views about the future of automotive retailing.

J F & E Hadwin Family Group

1) The J F & E Hadwin Family Group started out by repairing vehicles on your family farm, how did the idea to scale the business come about?

61 years ago, brothers Eric and Jack Hadwin founded the J F & E Hadwin Family Group in Torver near Coniston as a vehicle repair business. We repaired all makes of vehicles and agricultural equipment, even helping with Donald Campbell’s Blue Bird record attempts on Lake Coniston. Land Rovers were used locally and the brothers thought it could be possible to sell them as well as repairing them. Land Rovers were in short supply back then, which led to Eric travelling the length and breadth of the country buying ex-Army Land Rovers that they restored back at base and sold on. We also contacted the then Rover distributer, H J Croft to see if we could become a sub agent, luckily, they were considering retirement, and we managed to take on their agency. Our allocation was just three vehicles per year so we still had to source more ex-military vehicles. The price of a new Land Rover at that time was just £500 and the heater and passenger wiper were extras. Dutton Forshaw bought out H J Croft and we became sub dealers under them.

When Dutton Forshaw decided to relocate further south, Eric made a call to Land Rover UK to see if they would be interested in us becoming their retailer and that was the start of our partnership with Land Rover. We followed a similar growth path to that of Land Rover with the addition of Range Rover, Discovery, Freelander (now replaced with Discovery Sport) Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Evoque and finally the Range Rover Velar. The addition of each model brought a new group of clients.
 
Another large decision was which DMS provider should we choose. Well, we chose KDMS, a system run by Kalamazoo at that time and as the business grew so did the demands on the system and it became apparent after twenty years that we needed to change our DMS again. After reviewing the market, we decided on continuing the relationship with Kalamazoo, now Reynolds and Reynolds and have the POWER DMS, which we still rely on today and we could not manage without it.
 
Jason and Toby (Eric’s sons) joined the business and our next expansion was a service centre in Kendal, followed by becoming a full retailer on the site we occupy today. Then the owner of Ribblesdale Land Rover contacted us, as they were planning to retire and asked if we would be interested in buying their business. So before too long Ribblesdale was added to our business portfolio and we became a group.
 
The next change was a surprise to the whole JLR network as JLR announced their vision of the future was with one partner for both Jaguar and Land Rover per market area. As Jaguar is another iconic brand, we could hardly resist. After some negotiating with the team at Dobson’s - the then Jaguar retailer - we became a partner with Jaguar too. Along with Jaguar came JLR's vision of the Arch facility - one modern look for the whole network - and this is what you can see today at our Kentdale site.
 
We are still investing in the future as we have outgrown the original site at Torver and are planning a move down to Greenodd, where we will have a lot more space so we can continue to deliver our award-winning service to a growing customer base. The motor trade is always evolving and we hopefully will keep evolving with it on into the future.
2) Jaguar and Land Rover are such iconic British heritage brands, what led your family to want to specialise in these types of cars?

Jack and Eric looked at all the alternatives, the Austin Champ and others and nothing came near to the Land Rover so we stuck it out until we did secure the agency.

3) What are some of the biggest challenges you as a company have had to face over the years?
Every business faces challenges from survival in the early days, from working seven days a week whilst also running a 24-hour recovery service to interest rates in double digits and the financial crisis in 2008. Certainly, from my own perspective, the last sixteen months have been the most challenging with no clear path to follow and daily changes as to how we could operate or if you have to close the doors. Happily, with the team’s support and our ability to react quickly, we have managed to come through the effects of Covid-19 so far in a good position, considering some businesses have only just been able to open. Although I think the effects of Covid-19 will be with us for a while yet, we are already dealing with shortages of microchips, the latest impact on the motor trade and the latest challenge for us to manage.
4) The J F & E Hadwin Family Group have received the 2020 'Land Rover Group of the Year’ (for the second year in a row), 'Land Rover Retailer of the Year' and 'Land Rover Customer Experience Award'. How much of this success would you attribute to the trust you have built with your customers over all these years?
Entirely, without our customer base, most of whom we count as friends, we would not have a chance of performing to JLR's requirements. Along with the great team we have, this relationship is at the core of the business.
5) The way business was done 61 years ago has somewhat changed, how do you see the future of customer experience developing in the future?
There have been many changes in the way we transact and bring vehicles to market but I still feel that even in this digital age people still prefer to see and touch the car they are thinking of purchasing or looking after and build a relationship with us so we know both the customers and vehicle’s needs. We cannot ignore the progress or new more efficient ways of working but we need to integrate them in to our traditional way of doing things.

1) The J F & E Hadwin Family Group started out by repairing vehicles on your family farm, how did the idea to scale the business come about?

61 years ago, brothers Eric and Jack Hadwin founded the J F & E Hadwin Family Group in Torver near Coniston as a vehicle repair business. We repaired all makes of vehicles and agricultural equipment, even helping with Donald Campbell’s Blue Bird record attempts on Lake Coniston. Land Rovers were used locally and the brothers thought it could be possible to sell them as well as repairing them. Land Rovers were in short supply back then, which led to Eric travelling the length and breadth of the country buying ex-Army Land Rovers that they restored back at base and sold on. We also contacted the then Rover distributer, H J Croft to see if we could become a sub agent, luckily, they were considering retirement, and we managed to take on their agency. Our allocation was just three vehicles per year so we still had to source more ex-military vehicles. The price of a new Land Rover at that time was just £500 and the heater and passenger wiper were extras. Dutton Forshaw bought out H J Croft and we became sub dealers under them.

When Dutton Forshaw decided to relocate further south, Eric made a call to Land Rover UK to see if they would be interested in us becoming their retailer and that was the start of our partnership with Land Rover. We followed a similar growth path to that of Land Rover with the addition of Range Rover, Discovery, Freelander (now replaced with Discovery Sport) Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Evoque and finally the Range Rover Velar. The addition of each model brought a new group of clients.
 
Another large decision was which DMS provider should we choose. Well, we chose KDMS, a system run by Kalamazoo at that time and as the business grew so did the demands on the system and it became apparent after twenty years that we needed to change our DMS again. After reviewing the market, we decided on continuing the relationship with Kalamazoo, now Reynolds and Reynolds and have the POWER DMS, which we still rely on today and we could not manage without it.
 
Jason and Toby (Eric’s sons) joined the business and our next expansion was a service centre in Kendal, followed by becoming a full retailer on the site we occupy today. Then the owner of Ribblesdale Land Rover contacted us, as they were planning to retire and asked if we would be interested in buying their business. So before too long Ribblesdale was added to our business portfolio and we became a group.
 
The next change was a surprise to the whole JLR network as JLR announced their vision of the future was with one partner for both Jaguar and Land Rover per market area. As Jaguar is another iconic brand, we could hardly resist. After some negotiating with the team at Dobson’s - the then Jaguar retailer - we became a partner with Jaguar too. Along with Jaguar came JLR's vision of the Arch facility - one modern look for the whole network - and this is what you can see today at our Kentdale site.
 
We are still investing in the future as we have outgrown the original site at Torver and are planning a move down to Greenodd, where we will have a lot more space so we can continue to deliver our award-winning service to a growing customer base. The motor trade is always evolving and we hopefully will keep evolving with it on into the future.
2) Jaguar and Land Rover are such iconic British heritage brands, what led your family to want to specialise in these types of cars?

Jack and Eric looked at all the alternatives, the Austin Champ and others and nothing came near to the Land Rover so we stuck it out until we did secure the agency.

3) What are some of the biggest challenges you as a company have had to face over the years?
Every business faces challenges from survival in the early days, from working seven days a week whilst also running a 24-hour recovery service to interest rates in double digits and the financial crisis in 2008. Certainly, from my own perspective, the last sixteen months have been the most challenging with no clear path to follow and daily changes as to how we could operate or if you have to close the doors. Happily, with the team’s support and our ability to react quickly, we have managed to come through the effects of Covid-19 so far in a good position, considering some businesses have only just been able to open. Although I think the effects of Covid-19 will be with us for a while yet, we are already dealing with shortages of microchips, the latest impact on the motor trade and the latest challenge for us to manage.
4) The J F & E Hadwin Family Group have received the 2020 'Land Rover Group of the Year’ (for the second year in a row), 'Land Rover Retailer of the Year' and 'Land Rover Customer Experience Award'. How much of this success would you attribute to the trust you have built with your customers over all these years?
Entirely, without our customer base, most of whom we count as friends, we would not have a chance of performing to JLR's requirements. Along with the great team we have, this relationship is at the core of the business.
5) The way business was done 61 years ago has somewhat changed, how do you see the future of customer experience developing in the future?
There have been many changes in the way we transact and bring vehicles to market but I still feel that even in this digital age people still prefer to see and touch the car they are thinking of purchasing or looking after and build a relationship with us so we know both the customers and vehicle’s needs. We cannot ignore the progress or new more efficient ways of working but we need to integrate them in to our traditional way of doing things.
- + Disclaimers