A Blackpool entrepreneur said today he had achieved a boyhood dream and proved a teacher wrong by acquiring a motor dealership in the resort.
Vantage Citroen’s Mark Robinson, who now lives in Harrogate, is a regular visitor to visit his mum and sister.
The Citroen dealership at Squires Gate will be moving over to its new branding in the coming weeks after snapping up the former Lookers site.
Mark, who attended Arnold School said: “I was not particularly academic at school, but as a boy I was always interested in cars.
“I had a maths teacher who told me that I would never amount to anything. There is nothing better than a bit of negative comment to inspire you to work harder.
“My dream was to have my own business in the town and now I have realised that with Vantage Citroen.
“One of the past heads famously said that, ‘This was not a school that turned out used car salesmen’.
“However two of their past pupils were William Lyons who founded Jaguar and Trevor Wilkinson of TVR fame. Although not quite used car salesmen they were hugely successful in the car industry and I wanted to do the same.
“I always had a strong work ethic. I had a paper round and worked at the Pleasure Beach. One of my first jobs, at the age of 13, was cleaning cars at Tudor Car Sales where the Talbot Gateway is now.
“I have been in the motor industry for most of my working life. I became the general manager of a car dealership at the age of 24, which is very young.”
While working with Toyota he had the chance to buy two dealerships in a pilot with just 12 others worldwide and from there grew his Vantage business into a 25 site empire.
He added: “The Blackpool move for us was targeted territory. Blackpool and the Fylde coast has a large population and a strong new and used cars market.
“This opportunity came up to develop our relationship with the brand.
“Blackpool has a diverse demographic. There is a lot of industry that many people don’t realise is there and a lot of good businesses in the town
“When I drive around the town you see areas of neglect but there are some fantastic investments at the Talbot Gateway and the Seafront.
“Digitisation has affected the high street but there area some businesses which are less affected. People will always want to touch and feel cars and take them for a test drive before making a purchase. But you cannot be complacent.
“We invest a lot of money in our people. Customer relationships have to be strong and we are strong in terms of customer satisfaction. We want a happy team and if you do that you tend to have happy customers.”
He said he was proud to have a business in Blackpool and was looking forward to getting it involved with the community.