By guest, Jan 20 2015 04:10PM
For years, Fisher Trucks in Gourock has been helping Inverclyde folk move house and get to their holiday destinations. They have even played a part in building orphanages in Romania. Now as the firm celebrates its 30th anniversary ELAINE GRUNDY joins the Fisher family for a trip down memory lane.
There is no end to the reasons why the public might want to hire a van - and brothers, John and Neil Fisher, have heard them all by now. Nearly 30 years have passed since Fishertrucks - the firm founded by the pair's dad Duncan - relocated to Gourock's Cardwell Road.
The company's vans and minibuses have been used to help famous pop stars on tour, take foreigners on shooting trips and assist thousands of Inverclyde people to move home.Many a scout or member of the Boys Brigade has been taken to camp in a Fisher mini bus and hundreds of families have booked a vehicle for a week at the seaside.On one unusual occasion, a family who wanted to travel north to scatter the ashes of their dad turned to the Fishers for help to get there.
Fisher Trucks came into being in 1980 when Duncan moved his business from Innellan to Gourock. He had been trading for several years under the name of Duncan Fisher and at that time was concentrating on the repair side of the motor industry. But with his move across the water to Gourock's Cardwell Road, he decided to hire out vehicles as well. Duncan died 16 years ago, but the firm continues to motor on, thanks to John and Neil. While many a small business has been lost during the recent recession, the Fishers have continued to thrive. But they did notice a big decrease in the number of vans being hired at one point as the housing market ground to a halt. With fewer people buying and selling property, there was less demand for removals. Fortunately, the housing market is starting to pick up and once again Inverclyde folk are turning to Fisher Trucks to help them relocate.
In the early days of the business, Duncan ran a handful of vehicles from Innellan. The current fleet comprises 35 vehicles but in recent years there have been as many as 50. At first, the business was known as Duncan Fisher. Three years later it became known as Fisher Commercials, before changing again to its current name of Fisher Trucks.While some aspects of the business have changed over the years, other little traditions have remained. For instance, an old curling stone used to prop the door open in the early days is still used for the same purpose today.
Fisher Trucks sells and repairs vans as well as hiring them out. Eighteen years ago the company sent a van to Romania, which was considered a brave move at the time, as none of the Fisher trucks had previously gone further than England. Volunteers were going to build an orphanage. Despite some initial concerns the vehicle returned home safely, having suffered nothing more than a couple of punctures.While the Romanian trip is the only overseas one to have been made, Fisher vans travel around the UK on a daily basis. The most common reason for a customer hiring a van is because they are moving house or looking to move a sofa. There is also an artist from Sweden who comes across every summer to book a minibus to take Swedes around the north of Scotland for shooting trips. And every year the organisers of a major Scottish sailing race hire a van to carry spare masts and sails.
There have been several occasions where Fisher vans have been used by sound engineers to transport equipment to gigs. Fisher vans have been behind the scenes of concerts by bands including Texas, Wet Wet Wet and The Lighthouse Family. And a Fisher van was used when the crew of hit movie Sweet Sixteen, the film which launched Greenock's Martin Compston to stardom, came to film in the area.
Today, Duncan's sons Neil, 44, and John, 48, continue to run the business as they have done since their dad died. Duncan, 52, collapsed and died suddenly in 1993 while watching Neil take part in a race at Ingliston motor racing track near Edinburgh. At that very track, Duncan had enjoyed some of his finest moments as an amateur racer. He was a lap record holder at the track and was the proud holder of the Sandy Forrest trophy for special saloon cars. Duncan's wife Jane still works with the boys at the business on a part-time basis, organising stock on a Thursday. The firm's secretary is another long-standing member of staff. Morag Anderson only went there to work for six months - but 26 years on, she is still greeting customers and looks upon the Fishers as her 'other family'. John said: "Dad started off with three vans then diversified into van hire and that side of the business took off. We are planning on staying where we are and keeping on growing."