It’s May 29, 1968. Gary Puckett and The Union Gap are number one with the song ‘Young Girl’, Harold Wilson is the UK’s prime minister, a loaf of bread costs 8p and a pint of beer can be sunk for 20p.
Mansfield Town have just lost their last game of the season, 3-0 away to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic in Division Three. A second-hand Morris 1100 car, advertised in the Chad, is available for £70 or nearest offers, and a typical semi-detached house costs about £3,500.
Oh, and Graham Kirk and his dad Ron have just launched their business, Kirk Silo Installations Ltd, operating from a small workshop at a house in George Street, off Ladybrook Lane, and building silos for grain storage.
Fast forward 50 years, and the firm has diversified and evolved into Mansfield Garage Doors, based at premises covering 5,000 square metres in Great Central Road, opposite the police station, and employing 11 people.
Garage doors and gates are the company’s main focus. It has a large showroom with new seating areas, a storeroom, technical section and sales office, and is one of the largest stockists of obsolete garage-door parts. It works with quality manufacturers such as Hormann.
Teams of engineers install or repair about 140 garage doors a month, supplying them to properties big and small, mostly within a 20-mile radius of Mansfield.
Installers have also been called upon to work on properties across the country, including garages owned by world-famous footballers.
It’s a business success story that has few equals in Mansfield. No wonder the 50th anniversary is being so heartily celebrated by Graham, wife Sue, the rest of the family and all his staff, who held a party and an outdoor activities afternoon.
So what’s the secret to such longevity in business?
Graham said: “It’s more than just about having a good-quality product. It’s about quality installation and customer service. That’s why people need to come to the showroom to discuss what they want from a garage door.
“We’ve built a company that is renowned for honesty, getting the job done right, first time, and we get a lot of recommendations from happy customers. We’ve got great relationships with the manufacturers too.”
It was also back in 1968 that Graham first met Sue. They got to know each other after Graham parked Sue’s car for her at The Swan pub in Mansfield town centre, and they were married two years later.
Over the years, the couple have worked hard to develop a thriving business that is very much in demand. Their two daughters, Rachel O’Connor and Alison Phelan, now both work for the company, making it a real family affair.
“We don’t have specific roles,” says Rachel. “We do what is needed to make sure that our customers are happy and get the quality service and product they deserve. We have people here who will go the extra mile for customers.”
When Mansfield Garage Doors started business, Graham’s mantra was: ‘Do the job properly and you’ll be around a long time’. Looks like he was right!