MR TRI­UMPH

Bike India - - TRIUMPH AT HINCKLEY -

Tri­umph’s mod­ern story is one of team­work over more than three decades, but, most of all, it’s about one man: the re­mark­able John Stuart Bloor or JSB as he’s known to staff at Hinck­ley, some of whom have been there since the ear­li­est days.

Bloor founded Tri­umph Mo­tor­cy­cles Lim­ited af­ter buy­ing the old mar­que from the liq­uida­tor and still owns it although he’s now well into his seven­ties (he turns 77 on 16 June) and spends less time at the fac­tory.

Bloor is a fas­ci­nat­ing, down-to-earth char­ac­ter who be­came hugely suc­cess­ful from a hum­ble back­ground. A coal-miner’s son from a vil­lage in Der­byshire, in Eng­land’s East Mid­lands, he left school at 15 to work for a lo­cal builder. Two years later, he’d be­come a self­em­ployed plas­terer and, by the age of 20, he’d built his first com­plete house, al­ready show­ing the com­bi­na­tion of a sharp mind and ap­petite for hard work for which he would be­come renowned.

Bloor Homes grew rapidly to be­come one of the UK’s largest pri­vately owned house­build­ing firms and, by the early ’80s, its boss found him­self fea­tur­ing above the likes of

El­ton John in lists of Bri­tain’s rich­est peo­ple, his for­tune run­ning to over £100 mil­lion (Rs 900 crore). But Bloor wasn’t sat­is­fied with that and looked for a new busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. When pur­chas­ing the Meri­den site for hous­ing he be­came aware that the Tri­umph name was avail­able and bought it for a re­ported £150,000 (Rs 1.35 crore).

He had rid­den mo­tor­cy­cles in his youth but his ex­pe­ri­ence of Tri­umph was largely neg­a­tive, as he later re­called: ‘When I was 16, I used to have a Tiger Cub. To be hon­est, I didn’t think a lot of it, as wa­ter used to get into the points. I’d be com­ing back home from work on a win­ter’s night at 6.00 pm and was al­ways hav­ing to pull over and start fid­dling with the points. I wasn’t best pleased!’

A mo­tor­cy­cle firm ap­pealed, he said, partly be­cause its prod­ucts are tan­gi­ble and, un­like houses, have the po­ten­tial to be ex­ported world­wide. (As he has proved, they can also be made re­li­able.) ‘Bikes are an end prod­uct and I like end prod­ucts. They’re engi­neer­ing and I like engi­neer­ing. There’s no bloody ego trip for me,’ he told me on that day in June 1990. That is un­doubt­edly true. Bloor is un­in­ter­ested in per­sonal pub­lic­ity and has barely agreed to an in­ter­view with any jour­nal­ist since. He rarely ap­pears at Tri­umph func­tions and used a dis­guise to visit bike shows anony­mously.

He is fa­mously blunt speak­ing but in­spires great loy­alty. ‘He’s an im­mense fig­ure ― a real one-off with in­cred­i­ble vi­sion and com­mit­ment,’ says Bruno Tagli­a­ferri. ‘He has a tremen­dous mem­ory ― he knew ev­ery­one on the site ― and a great knowl­edge of the prod­uct, engi­neer­ing, sourc­ing… He’d al­ways know how much parts would cost. He’s a very good reader of peo­ple. He’s also a good lis­tener, but once he makes a de­ci­sion, he sticks to it.’

Many have won­dered why Bloor has not been knighted, though he was hon­oured with an OBE (Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire) for ser­vices to the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try in 1995. He does not have a lav­ish lifestyle de­spite last year be­ing re­port­edly worth al­most £2 bil­lion (Rs 18,000 crore). His pre­cise wealth and mo­ti­va­tion might be hard to eval­u­ate, but what is for sure is that very few peo­ple have been more im­por­tant to mo­tor­cy­cling over the last three decades and more.

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