Article by Carchem
This week we say hello to Luke Fletcher, MD of CarChem. Luke is the driving force behind CarChem and its umbrella brands, Valeting Products and Super Polish Pro, so we want to shed some light onto the man behind the business and why he loves doing what he does!
In this interview, we ask Luke a few questions around his background, the business origins and try to understand what we can expect from CarChem in the future.
Question – Who is Luke Fletcher?
I left school when I was 16 years old and pursued my passion in both horses and competitive sport, becoming an apprentice jockey, leading on to me becoming a professional by the time I was 18 years old.
Becoming a professional at such a young age taught me a lot of life skills and made me grow up fast, learning how to handle high-pressure situations, along with making me realise how true the saying is “you only get out of life what you put in”. It also taught me the need for some downtime and that there’s nothing wrong with a good party every so often…or maybe once a week!
Living the life of a professional jockey is incredibly strict and punishing and I realised my 5ft 8’ build (or maybe 5ft 7 ¾ ) meant I was quite tall for the life of someone who needed to keep their weight under 8st 7lbs, and so I left that world behind and began to eat normally for the first time in 7 years.
I didn’t want to completely turn my back on my passion, so I concentrated on buying and selling young horses along with freelance riding instructor. I had an amazing time during this period and met some awesome people, it was also my first step into the business world.
Question – When did you start CarChem?
By the time I was 25 I wanted to take on a new challenge and put on a suit and tie again (well maybe just the suit), so when an opportunity came along to develop my skills working at my Dad’s print manufacturers I decided to give it a go. Here is where I learnt how to create formulas and mix chemicals, with the idea that I could maybe try and develop something that could clean and coat my other passion, my car!
I worked in my Dad’s print manufacturers for a little while, learning some extremely valuable lessons along the way, I decided to take the plunge and go it alone! I rented a very small area of his factory, bought myself a stick and a bucket and started mixing. I had flyers made and I would mix and quality check one day and then drive around trying to sell the next. I have to say the initial year of forming CarChem was probably the hardest in my professional career, there were many doors slammed in my face and plenty of scepticism in equal measure but I found this only made me more determined to prove the products are good enough.
It continued like this for a while and I started to get a very small amount of traction, I remember the first year I turned over £32,000 and made a decent loss at that!
My routine at the time would consist of getting up 5am, go and ride a few horses, then put my suit or overalls on and get to CarChem for 8.30am, bust my gut for 9 hours and then teach horse riding after work until 9pm.
This was my only option if I wanted CarChem to work as I couldn’t afford to pay myself a wage from the business, I even lived in a caravan at an equestrian yard for a year during this period to try and free up some cash to help push the business, tough times but looking back I’d definitely consider them good times.
Since the early days, CarChem has come along way and still has a long way to go, we currently have 20 staff and have recently moved into our first purchased property of 13,000sqft. And I will still be seen driving the fork truck, mixing or on the production line from time to time.
Every businessman will do business different to the next, but in my eyes, the foundations are quite similar, hard work, dedication, passion and getting back up twice as strong when someone tries to knock you down!
Question – Proudest achievement?
In business I wouldn’t say, I never sit and reflect what I have done as I need to think what tomorrow will be, I will reflect when I retire. In my personal life I have a new son, say no more!
Question – What was your First car?
A Vauxhall Corsa that I added a quite considerable exhaust to, a terrible idea!
Question – What is your dream car?
A Lambo. I just love them.
Question – And where do you see CarChem in the future?
Bigger and better. It sounds like a terrible cliché but I genuinely believe it. I want to take all the good work we’ve done to date across all our brands, expand on it and make sure we offer the best possible products and service to our customers.
I want to end by saying thank you, firstly for taking your time to read this, but also for liking what we do, we have a great bunch of staff here at CC who work tirelessly and it genuinely is a pleasure to try and continue to develop new and innovative products that you enjoy using. I sincerely hope we can continue to offer these products way into the future.