Over the past couple of months, we have had some fantastic team milestones at BWOC and this month follows suit with our Garage Manager Angela Ndow celebrating her 25th Anniversary with the company.
We wanted to interview Angela to find out how her time at BWOC has developed and learn more about some of her fondest memories.
“I was already working at the Wayside Garage in Clevedon, when Bob Wayne (BWOC founder) bought it from my then boss – Peter Neil. Me and the garage came as a package! she laughs ”
I remember it very well. It wasn’t a regular working day; it was a Sunday evening. Bob came in to complete the ‘hand-over’. I was initially pretty apprehensive; it was going to be a big change in the set up I was used to. The fuel station was attached to a workshop and a car sales lot, which were now all going their separate ways. I wasn’t going to be working alongside the same people and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the keys to the place changed hands on Sunday and on Monday it was just ‘Business as usual’ as Bob put it. So I went from being pretty worried and considering my options, to thoroughly enjoying the job! .
I left school at 19, and started to work as a PA at Council offices in Bristol. I hated every minute of it she laughs. But I also had a part-time job at the Wayside garage, where I spent weekends fuelling customer cars. That’s back in the day, when attended service was the norm and customers didn’t have to set a foot outside of the car. When the garage was being sold, I was offered a fulltime position – just until I decide what it is I wanted to do. She laughs and adds well…42 years later and I’m still deciding. You can’t rush these things! I had secretarial experience so I dealt with anything from fore-courting to creating invoices. Then Peter sold the garage to BWOC and here we are, 25 years later. 😊
So much has changed over the years. Our customers used to pull up and hand the keys over and we would fill their cars up, check oil and tyres. I remember when we bought new self-service pumps, which wasn’t liked initially. Then VAT was introduced, well, that was a monumental change which caused a public uproar. I also remember the introduction of decimalisation, when we had to transfer from the use of pennies and shillings to pence and pounds.
I think being made to feel like a very valued member of the team. BWOC makes you feel like you are not just an employee, you really matter. We all have problems in our personal life and BWOC supported me in my private as well as work life over the years.
We’ve had many moments, but one thing that’s always stuck with me is one night here at the Now Garage at Brent Knoll. 8 or 10 years ago, Mark (previous MD) made the decision to have all the tanks cleaned. It’s a major undertaking: the tanks had to be unearthed, the lid taken off and men had to go inside. Once the tanks were cleaned and we tested everything, it was time to pour concrete back over it and for the fuel to be returned to the tanks. It was a winter night, as dark and as bleak as they get and Roger Hawkins pulled up in his truck. It was a precarious job, involving backing up over steel plates over a trench, inches away from ending up in a ditch. To say Mark and I were tense would be an understatement, but Roger did a stellar job. As Mark literally wiped the sweat from his brow and patted Roger, he said ‘Ah nothing to it’ she laughs.
I just think this really sums up what BWOC is all about - give us a challenge and we can do it. We’ve always gotten through the tough times.
Like the time there were Fuel strikes – we had massive queues of cars, as we were one of the few garages to stay open. People were panic buying, so Mark travelled down to help. We had to ration people to £20 worth of fuel, and the only way to police it was to go back to serving people on the pumps to get through the crisis.
There’s never been a barrier between the hierarchy and ourselves, we are all one team. BWOC has the spirit to always get through.
The whole team here at BWOC would like to thank Angela for being such an important part of the team for 25 years and we look forward to sharing more memories in the coming years!