Tell us how you came to be at Cotgrave
My grandfather Maurice Whiteman set up the business in 1960 and then my dad took over in the late 70s - I came on board in 2009. Three proud generations of Whitemans! Interestingly it was never a foregone conclusion that I would one day run the business - to the extent that as a student I worked part time for another petrol station in a neighbouring village! When I finished Uni I had a very different career in digital printing, becoming a company director. But when my dad retired, I made the decision to come into the business - and I’m glad I did because I love my job and am proud of the team we’ve built and the service we provide.
Tell us more about why you love your job
I love the hubbub of being part of a village community and the interaction with some great people - lots of energy and full of life. We have hundreds of human interactions on a daily basis and with those interactions come some great stories and some memorable moments - and how could you not love that?
Covid has impacted on businesses across the country, how did you cope?
Like many people, we thought it was going to be a short term lockdown but I thought it was important to close, albeit temporarily, because there was genuine fear and uncertainty. The petrol pumps were shut for just two weeks and we re-opened in April (2020). I came back and became the morning cashier and Katy (who we’d taken on a matter of days prior to lockdown and was keen to get going) took on the afternoon slot. We quite literally ‘manned the pumps’ between us - and it turned out to be a very positive experience - and I’m glad we did it.
Talk to us about your new JET branding
I hold my hands up but when I was first shown the new branding I think it’s fair to say I was sceptical! Then in November last year we had new pumps put in and added JET ULTRA Premium Fuels etc - and we went for the new branding too. And I have to say, (I will eat my words and beg for forgiveness!) it looks great! It’s modern and eye-catching and the grey works particularly well. I genuinely love it and so do our customers.
Walk us through a day on the job
I usually collect someone’s car, to bring into the garage, anywhere between 8 and 9 in the morning. I then get about my day job. There are 15 people in the business and three of us in the office. It is a full-on job but I do have flexibility and I’m fortunate because I have an experienced team I trust implicitly. My management style is to let folks get on with it and to understand what people need to make their own decisions and to feel confident in themselves to make those decisions.
I want people to want to work with us because we’re better and fairer and we look after the people who work here.
Strong working relationships are evidently key to the success of Cotgrave - tell us about your relationship with JET
Matt Pougher is a great guy - and as a company JET and Phillips 66 have been fantastic. A few years ago I was thinking it was time for a change but having weighed up the options we decided to stay put - and what a positive and important decision that turned out to be. Throughout Covid we have been supported and listened to which feels like a genuine partnership. And during the fuel crisis while others were running empty we had a consistent fuel supply. Simply incredible.
There is a ‘family feel’ to JET/Phillips 66 and there are sound principles at the core of the business and a culture that is fundamentally good. And you can’t ask for much more than that.
Describe your job in three words
Diverse, ‘plate-spinning’, fulfilling.