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Driving ahead in the car business.

HE'S put his electronics skills to work helping get British army helicopters ready for battle and servicing high-tech lathes and machine tools for some of the biggest names in manufacturing. Now Rob Mudd has realised another driving ambition - running his own business.

Dalton-born Robb, 39, has set up Cargo Huddersfield Ltd at Silver Street, Aspley, with a business partner to sell used cars - drawing on his experience as a salesman and sales manager for some of the biggest car dealerships in West Yorkshire.

"We have been here since November, but we have only recently started trading," he says.

"The building was an empty shell and although we haven't had to do much with the industrial unit we have had to decorate and carpet the offices. It has to look professional and welcoming."

Explaining his decision to set up Cargo, he says: "I have worked for franchise main dealers for the past 10 years, but I just got more and more frustrated by how the main dealerships are run.

"Working for three major companies has enabled me to pull out the good points about how they work and discard the bad points."

Rob attended Dalton Junior and Infants School and Rawthorpe High School, but says at that stage he didn't have a clue what he wanted to do in life.

"We had the Royal Navy come to school one day to do a presentation," he says. "After I left school, I weighed up my options for a few months. I enrolled at college, but I didn't enjoy it, so I tried to join the navy - but I wasn't successful."

He opted for the army instead, and in January, 1992, joined the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. "I loved it," he says.

"I went to Princess Marina College in Hampshire and did a twoyear army apprenticeship in electronic engineering. "I became a fully qualified avionics technician working on weapons systems for the army helicopters.

"I got to see the world because we had to be wherever the helicopters were needed. There were stressful postings, like Northern Ireland, but there were also glamorous postings to places like Belize, Guatemala and Canada as well as all over Europe."

After seven years, Rob left the army after deciding he could no longer put up with the "bull".

The final straw came when Princess Anne was due to visit the army base where he was stationed. "It was the middle of August and the grass was scorched," he recalls.

"So they had the new recruits out painting the grass green! There are some things you put up with at the age of 17 as a new recruit that you don't want to put up with when you're 24!" Rob was headhunted by a Dewsbury engineering firm and took a job as a field service engineer repairing CNC machines at factories across the region.

But 12 months later, he was made redundant. "It was a case of last in, first out," he says. "I was left scratching my head and I felt like I had just left school again."

A friend suggested he get a job in the car industry and Rob soon found himself employed as a sales executive for a car dealership in Leeds. Within two years, he was sales manager running the sales department.

"It was very stressful," he says. "There were long hours and targets to hit. You either take to that sort of life or you don't.

"I was commuting between my home at Waterloo and Leeds. One Saturday morning back in 2011 I saw a sign on the motorway saying there would be roadworks until winter 2014 ! That broke me. I handed in my resignation the same day."

Rob moved job and worked for dealerships in Huddersfield for two years before deciding to set up Cargo, selling used cars from the Silver Street premises.

"I was acutely aware that going into a franchise showroom is a daunting prospect for many people," says Rob.

"There is an inconsistency in how customers are dealt with. I thought I could do it better."

The site at Aspley may lack a main road position, but it includes baby changing facilities, free wi-fi and a playroom to keep bored youngsters busy and allow mum and dad to concentrate on the business of buying a car.

The premises also include a photographic studio so that all the cars for sale go on to the firm's website looking in immaculate condition.

"People's buying habits have changed massively in the past 10 years," says Rob.

"The internet can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You are in a shop window with lots of other dealers, but you have to be there - 90% of car sales are generated online by people searching the web at home before coming out to buy."

Rob says:" The market is generally buoyant at the moment. New car sales have risen month on month for the past three years and that has a knock-on effect for the used cars market.

"But people want value for money. They want low running costs and cheap insurance. We have schemes set up with all sorts of companies so that even for first-time drivers we can help with that sort of thing. It is more about supplying the whole package."

And Rob's determined to iron out the inconsistencies. "The simple rule is to treat people as you would want to be treated," he says.

"Be black and white, fair, accurate and transparent and you will sell cars into the same family of customers for several years."

Rob still works long hours, but is spared the long commute. "The hours have never bothered me," he says.

"The difference is that I am doing it for myself and that provides an incentive to give 100%." Away from work, Rob has helped raise thousands of pounds for good causes, including the Yorkshire Ambulance, by talking part in charity walks such as the Three Peaks with friends at Waterloo Bowling Club.

At Cargo, Rob is keen to support other local businesses. "The only thing we have gone outside Huddersfield for is the website," he says.

"All the stationery, computers and signage and so on are from local companies."

And if things ever do get a bit too much, Rob has the perfect solution. He says: "I try to make bit of 'down time.' .' I enjoy golf, although I haven't played for a while.

"But I play squash every week with my business partner.

"Trying to knock the skin off a squash ball is a great way to get rid of any tension and frustration."

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Rob Mudd has switched from helicopters to cars
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2014
Words:1112
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