From this inauspicious beginning in 1980, Automotive Tools and Supplies Ltd (AT&S) has grown into a highly-respected and dynamic family-run company.

The man with the car boot was my father, Lester Maddock, who, after selling his oil distribution business, decided against retirement and opted for a “hobby”.

Autotools historical photo

That “hobby” – selling tools to garages – grew into today’s company.

He made use of his contacts, carried goods in that car boot and used his garage at home for storage.

I – Peter Maddock – joined in January 1981, and was a 50% partner of very little. Soon after, we had bought our first van and converted it into a mobile sales unit. That’s when we started “cold calling”.

At that time my wife, Linda – we had only been married four months – worked full-time in a bank. But she sat alongside me every evening at our kitchen table, keeping on top of the growing clerical work – we now had a second van and taken on our first sales employee.

My father retired – this time permanently – yet he always kept a keen interest in AT&S. With the business growing, he agreed AT&S needed a permanent base. In 1986, we bought an empty building – The Old Smithy – in the village of Read, East Lancashire.

The first job? We had to make it habitable. We spent the next six months – and that meant nights and weekends – clearing and gutting the building and getting rid of quite a few rats’ nests. At the end, we had turned it into a building fit for purpose.

A picture of the old Autotools building

By now, we had two sons, James and Douglas, and the business became part of their childhood. They came with us “to work” on Saturdays and school holidays – that’s how they earned their pocket money.

After my father died, Linda officially became a full partner. In reality, she had been in that position from the outset – she still is our financial director.

By now we needed more space. We bought the adjoining land in 2001. We demolished and cleared the existing buildings – with a digger I bought as a Christmas present!

By 2002 we had our present purpose-built showroom, warehouse and office suite where we garage our sales vans, display our extensive ranges of hand tools and garage equipment, hold seminars and trade events and continue to build and thrive.

We became a limited company on December 9, 2002 with Linda and myself as directors.

It is only now we realise just how many years of determination and hard work it has taken to establish our large network of van rounds and to form strong relationships with our suppliers. Trust played a big part in both.

So, too, has family.

The old Autotools facility garages

James and Douglas both went to university and gained their degrees. James has since forged a career in banking and now works abroad.

Douglas, however, joined AT&S full-time, in 2009. Since then he has worked through every aspect of the business and became a director in January 2017.

We are thrilled to see the next generation coming through – long may it continue……