Our guest speaker for the March Probus meeting at Alnwick Cricket Club was Sue Blackshaw, who is the marketing and human resources manager at Blackshaws Alnwick.
Sue started her presentation with the history of Blackshaws in Alnwick, since the family opened the garage in 1919 at the site in Tower Lane, Alnwick.
Sue joined the company after working with businesses like Courage Breweries, the Scotland Milk Marketing Board and Eurographics.
In 1919, John Charles and Edward Warton opened the business.
And in Alnwick, it was the first place you could purchase an automobile, as they were known then.
The garage was moved to Bondgate Without in 1925, where the current Robert Adam Court is now.
At this site there was room for only 60 cars, which included Riley, Leyland and Norton bikes.
In 1950 a petrol station was added, and full ownership was taken by William Dixon.
Moving into the 1980/90s, the Austin Morris dealership was ended, with Blackshaws and Datsun-Nissan being added.
A second Suzuki franchise was opened up in Belford by Stuart Blackshaw in the early 1990s.
William Blackshaw, of the fourth generation of the Blackshaw family, took over as dealer principal in Alnwick in early 2000.
In 2004 Blackshaws made a business decision to move to the Lionheart Estate due to lack of expansion space at Bondgate.
This was a big decision as this was an out-of-town site.
However, a loyal database of customers had been built up, and Blackshaws offered a better facility both for customers and its staff.
In 2011 Blackshaws was awarded second place in the national awards for Suzuki for its service and quality to customers, and its marketing achievements.
In 2013 David retired and William took over as manager.
And in 2014 Blackshaws once again won the award as Medium-sized Dealer of the Year – quite a remarkable achievement as this was a national award.
Now Sue told us that a new dealership was opened up in March in Morpeth by Blackshaws, promoting Mitsubishi models.
Blackshaws employ 55 people in Alnwick and eight in Morpeth.
There are eight departments, covering every customer needs.
It was good to hear that four staff are still with Blackshaws after more than 20 years’ service, and 11 staff are still working at the company after more than 10 years’ service.
Blackshaws, as well as being customer and staff motivated, is involved in our community in Alnwick.
It sponsors many events, and the hospice has been the main charity for the last five years.
It also helps the Rotary Club golf days and sports clubs, and many other organisations in our area.
Blackshaws has a direct marketing website, which customers can log onto.
This is a must in today’s society.
It was such a pleasure to hear Sue Blackshaw bringing us up-to-date with developments in the local company.
Sue’s presentation and questions from the members took over one hour.
A vote of thanks was given by Larry Lampert, who thanked Sue for a most enjoyable presentation.
He wished both Sue and Blackshaws well for the future.
And he added that Blackshaws is successful because of its first class service to customers and its quality staff in Alnwick.