Leaving home at 15 years old to join the merchant navy Peter Hockenhull spent the next three years travelling the globe and picking up life experience he would never see at home.
After the merchant navy he needed to finish his education so joined the British Army and picked up an additional job working behind the bar in Altrincham (Manchester) where he met two senior men from Shell Mex and BP; these gentlemen advised Peter he would be an asset in sales with his quick wit and gift of the gab. He borrowed a suit for his interview with them and secured his position to join as a representative. His first major job in the sixties was to convince retailers to go solus ie just Shell, BP or National Benzol, as forecourts then had a multitude of brands on one island which was impractical.
He was promoted to area sales development adviser and then regional sales development advisor; BP then decided that they wanted to experiment and see if Direct Management would work. Dad was asked and after a lot of resistance he agreed to give it a shot, the condition from them being that he would have to relocate to Leicester and then form a subsidiary company called Saints Service Stations. The rest is history.
Having proved that it worked alongside other experiments in the UK they decided to go countrywide with merging all of the subsidiaries into one. BP then asked him to take up a new role but this time relocating to Leeds. By this time, he had a young family of four so he refused the offer for not wanting to cause them to start lives all over again. He decided to resign and instead go into business by himself.
His journey from then to now has led Peter to diversify into different industries, notably those such as taking ownership of Admiral Sportswear in the 80s, running as vice chairman of Leicester City Football Club, helping bring them out of administration and running a local village pub.
After selling 10 sites to Euro Garages back in 2006 the company contracted, and Peter enjoyed semi-retirement. After some time away, and becoming bored with the slower pace of life plus young blood entering into the company, including his son Joe - now managing director - he was inspired to return. He was reinvigorated and put himself back into the fire with the intention of building a cluster of sites which would be based on quality not quantity – the latest of which is The Stage in Wigston, Leicester, the site which brought him a much-deserved moment of glory, winning Forecourt Trader of the Year 2020.
The award was great recognition following a long journey for The Stage, which had begun when Peter drove past an eyesore of a corner plot with an old rickety disused hand car wash and MOT workshop. He had a vision for something else that nobody had seen for a PFS before. It is now the blueprint for all future developments for Hockenhull Garages. The company now has 12 sites – seven owned and five commission operated.
His son Joe is full of admiration for his father: “What sets dad and the company apart from all others is the culture he has instilled in all of the teams - nobody is a number and everyone within the company is part of the Hockenhull family with fun, hard work and a smile to follow, being at the heart the organisation.
“At 80 years old Dad is still turning up to work every day and no job is beneath him - from cleaning toilets to mowing lawns, he gets his hands dirty. He still attends all the team meetings we have on each of the sites every quarter, involving himself in the importance of customer service and aiming to get job satisfaction from it.
“His favourite slogan which we have all adopted is making sure all our teams and sites are RFB – Ready for Business!”