Ex-Serviceman Ian is winning the battle for success at Bonnymans’ first franchise in Hampshire


Rapidly-expanding Scottish chemicals specialist Bonnymans is celebrating the success of its first franchise operation which, after only a year of operation, is creating new jobs and multiplying its rapid delivery fleet.

Based in Romsey, a small market town on the outskirts of the huge industrial conurbation of Southampton, the Bonnymans franchise is delivering the company’s industry-leading portfolio of chemicals – including top quality vehicle cleaning and preparation products, own label janitorial products and  biodiesel and alternative fuels – across Hampshire.

Under the leadership of former Serviceman Ian Thomas, the company is leading the assault on the highly competitive markets in the prosperous county and winning the battle for new sales leads and customers.

Ian said: “There is a substantial industrial infrastructure in Hampshire – based on haulage and transport from the docks and agriculture – which provides a ready-made customer base in the market for good quality products at excellent prices.”

Ian is now taking on a full-time employee to augment the work of his existing part-time staff and plans within the next year to divide the sprawling county into four divisions, with dedicated delivery vehicles servicing each of them.

He said: “Bonnymans has allowed me to develop a ready-made business opportunity in a fast growing and recession proof market sector, allowing me the freedom to pursue my own business instincts with full and unequivocal support if it becomes necessary.”

Ian With Van

Stephen Allam

Stephen Allam - Managing Director

Ian’s route towards starting his own business was far from typical and was inspired, he said, by being done down by a supplier.

The former road haulage supervisor signed up with the Army and spent eight years with the Armed Forces, both in bases in Britain and on active service abroad. On leaving the Services, he worked as a transport manager and became interested in making his own bio-diesel for personal transport use.

He said: “I bought the kit for making bio-diesel from a local supplier and, frankly, it was rubbish. When I complained, he essentially told me to – well, let’s just say he wasn’t focused on customer service.

“I don’t take kindly to that sort of thing so I reverse engineered the kit and produced a much better, more functional product, which I was selling for £200 less than him. He didn’t like it much.”

It was while Ian was selling the kits that customers began asking him where they could get the methanol and Sodium Hydroxide  needed for the process. And that led him directly to Bonnymans founder Steven Allam and his sales director Hugh Rogers.

The long-established company, which is based in Beith in North Ayrshire and employs 52 people, has made significant inroads into UK sectors as diverse as the automotive trade and roads and infrastructure maintenance, as well as continuing to concentrate on overseas orders. The company’s three main lines are for car washes and car valeting, DEFRA-approved disinfectants and sanitisers and general chemicals for a variety of purposes

He said: “Steven and Hugh came to see me and, over dinner, they explained that they wanted to raise their national profile. I suggested franchising, and the project just gathered momentum from that point on.”

Ian explained that the self-discipline, self-reliance and self-confidence that he gained during his time with the Armed Forces were crucial to his business success. He said: “Every soldier comes out of the service with more self respect than when he went in and that is invaluable in business management and, particularly, managing men more effectively.

“At the same time, Steven and Hugh have been incredibly supportive in the early stages. I have no discernible sales skills and they have been great mentors in that respect. If I have a question, they will take time to answer it straightaway and the back-up, generally has been great.”

Stephen Allam said: “Ian has more than met our criteria for franchisees. We are looking for people who are highly motivated, disciplined, ambitious and hard working. They should also be able to communicate and develop good client relationships, as well as enjoy managing teams.
“It has been our experience that people coming out of the Armed Forces are much more highly qualified in these respects than others.”
Hugh Rogers said: “Ian Thomas has played a terrific role in developing our first franchise operation. He has created a model business, with excellent managerial skills, a keen business sense and a hunger to succeed. He is exactly what we were looking for.”