A cool 50 years for ice cream van man Bryan
WHEN Bryan Whitby stood in a humble barn awaiting the first efforts of his labours to emerge from production, he had know idea that his fledgling business would become a global success.
But yesterday ice cream van manufacturer Whitby Morrison marked its 50th anniversary with the third generation of the family-run firm hoping to guide the business to another significant landmark.
Hundreds of the Crewe-based firm's customers gathered to pay tribute to the company as Bryan was recognised for his efforts over the last five decades.
The 80-year-old, of Haslington, founded the company from a barn in Coppenhall after learning the trade at Crewe firm Cummins. He said: "When I was working at Cummins on ice cream vans, I came up with the idea of powering the equipment directly from the engine, which hadn't been done before.
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"I always liked the idea of running my own business and decided to set up on my own. We had a barn and there were about two or three of us to begin with."
The firm now employs around 50 people and supplies equipment across the globe.
And Bryan admits the success of the company has been down to the part played by son Stuart and grandson Ed.
He said: "Stuart started out working for Rolls Royce and that's what I wanted, as it gave him the chance to learn in a different environment.
"When he joined the company I was happy for it to just tick over but he had the same enthusiasm I had when I first started and has pushed the business on."
Seven years ago, Stuart was joined by his son Ed, who is now production manager at the firm.
"I feel very lucky to have two such enthusiastic people running the business," said Bryan.
Yesterday, a fleet of the firm's historic vans were lined up around the pitch at Nantwich Town's Weaver Stadium as part of a two-day exhibition to celebrate the company's anniversary.
Stuart, aged 55, who joined the firm as a 21-year-old, said: "I had a career mapped out as Rolls Royce but I didn't want to be answerable to a huge corporation and preferred a smaller enterprise where you can respond quicker to change.
"Because of my background at Rolls Royce, it made me determined that we should produce the best ice cream vans that we possibly could.
"The story of the company is a really good one and not many firms make it through to the third generation."
Ed, aged 30, who joined the business seven years ago, believes the company can respond to a constantly changing market place.
He said: "Buying an ice cream from a van is still an experience people enjoy. Vans are still spotted at festivals and events where they do good business."
Over the years, the firm has converted a range of vehicles from three-wheel cars to 4x4s into ice cream vans. And they have all been fitted with a jingle whether it's the traditional Greensleeves or a television theme.
One of the firm's coach builders Tony Edmunds, aged 57, of Crewe, added: "I even designed one which had a Jaguar engine in it. It appeared on Top Gear in a race."