Keith Dodd - 55 years involvement with the Mini
After 55 years of involvement with Mini parts Keith Dodd has left the running of the company to his family and employees who have worked in the business for many years. Keith was born in April 1947 and on leaving school in 1963 he started his career in the motor trade with H.A Saunders at Whetstone, London N20 purely as a part time job. H.A Saunders was later purchased by Mann Egerton, who were part of the Inchcape Group. His interest started straight away as the 997cc Cooper was being phased out and the 998cc introduced. Many owners and parts suppliers could not get to grips with the BMC parts lists change points, especially when some early 850cc and 997cc engines had oil fed primary gears and different gear sets subject to modifications by BMC. This is where his skill for recognising the defining features of other parts fitted and knowing the year of manufacture to ascertain the correct parts required made him renowned in the Mini world. He also became a recognised expert on the interchangeability of parts for upgrading or performance use. Owners of Minis, whether road, race or track, all relied on his knowledge and he started the first Special Tuning distributorship in London. He founded Mini Spares in 1975 after Mann Egerton said they were not interested in opening a one-car specialist shop or division solely for the Mini - having worked for them for 10 years he gave them over a year to change their minds whilst he prepared for going alone. At that time Mann Egerton were the third largest parts suppliers of BMC/Leyland/and Rover parts in the UK, employing a staff of 35-40 people. Today Mini Spares employs 50+ staff purely for the Mini! Mini Spares started in Bowes Road, Southgate selling parts, breaking a few Cooper S damaged cars sourced from Exchange and Mart and building performance engines and gearboxes to help subsidise the new parts business, before moving just up the road in 1981 to Friern Barnet Road. The present site at Potters Bar was opened in 1999 and the shop at Friern Barnet phased out and eventually sold in 2001. Harrogate was opened in 1995 and it relocated to larger premises in York July 2015. Mini Spares Midlands branch, which is run in conjunction with David Manners, opened 1996. Keith Dodd has been involved in all the parts design, remanufacture and quality control the company and his knowledge has been passed down to his exceptional staff, creating the largest and leading specialists in the world for Mini spare parts. The shops are run by trained counter staff as many customers still collect their orders in person, but today Mini Spares is primarily a mail order company. Of the 190-5 countries in the world Mini Spares have shipped to over 122 at the last count showing how far worldwide the Mini has travelled.