“Peter and I met in 1978 at a small insurance brokerage in Harrogate, which we left to start Ellis Bates on 1st August 1980.
I remember our first office was 3 rooms over the Britannia Building Society on Prospect Crescent in Harrogate. There were just four of us – Peter and me, plus Rene and Pat part time, both of whom were our parent’s generation and mothered us as a result. There were no computers in those days, just a two line rotary dial telephone system with three extensions, and a card index system for our records.
The desks had been made by a joiner friend of mine Gary, and they consisted of two 3 drawer kitchen carcasses with a piece of edged 6′ x 2′ plywood as a top. They were huge, and a bit high so when I was sitting at my desk my feet didn’t reach the floor!
Our income in that first year was just £26,000, which had to cover all our expenses, and pay us as well. Needless to say we were pretty frugal as a result. I do remember our one extravagance though – a proper coffee machine, which was very popular with our neighbours on the adjacent floors!”
“Well we have gone from a first year turnover of £26,000 to over £7 million, flu was an occasional risk and Coronavirus was decades away. Along the way we have employed a lot of people and then their children and even maybe the next generation! The business may have got bigger but the ethos has never changed and the current team are firmly on the same wave length and long may it continue. There will always be challenges to deal with and providing Grant is there to help sort them out that will suit me fine.
The business started because we both wanted to run something our way and we made the decisions and not somebody in a Head Office miles away who did not know our customers or the people who worked in our company. Since 1980 we have had to cope with significant legislation, new training and development schemes, 4 different premises and I cannot recall us thinking whether we would still be trading 40 years later or that we would have clients who were with us at the start and had stayed loyal throughout this time. We just had to carry on working looking after clients and everything would be good, eventually.”