Seeing his son drive a mini-tank persuaded Bren to start up his own venture. We asked him about life as a small business owner.
Tell us about your business…
Tank Heroes Mini Tanks Ltd is a small business providing bespoke mini-tanks and mini-tank driving experiences using bespoke tracked vehicles which, with shell attached, look like small tanks. Mini-tanks are unique vehicles that drivers with lower limb disabilities can also experience, controlling them through hand levers.
How did you come to start up?
I have my then 12-year-old son to thank for creating the spark. I saw a “toy” version of our machines in my home town of Scarborough back in 2010, and my son had a drive in one. I thought they were a fantastic and unique concept with endless possibilities.
How has the business grown since then?
I started on my own and had numerous events and shows clawing at my attraction even before I built my first three tanks. My friend Tony Bailey helped me out at events and is now a fellow director.
We now operate six mini-tanks and are looking at manufacturing and producing on a larger scale, having just built and shipped two machines to a theme park in St Petersburg. We have also had interest from other markets, which we are developing, such as a utility vehicle for festivals and agriculture.
Can you run me through a typical day?
Checking emails is the first thought in my head from opening my eyes to logging on to my laptop. But every day is different; if we have a show looming it will be preparing our machines with Tony to make sure they are looking and sounding their best, and providing all the pre-show media and planning information.
What’s been the highlight for your business so far?
Being asked to build mini-tanks for a large theme park in St Petersburg.
What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a customer?
Our mini-tanks are in essence tracked, all-weather, all-terrain vehicles, and a particular customer wanted one to pull his equipment up a Scottish mountain.
What one thing couldn’t your business function without?
That’s a tough question because there are so many, but I couldn’t have done it without my wife, son and family’s support, and my business partner Tony’s dedication and expertise.
What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Steering my own business with my own decisions and watching something I’ve created grow. The future for our business excites me even now.
And the hardest part?
Getting the balance right between business and family. My wife tells me I’m obsessed with our machines. I call it passion!
What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
How time- and life-consuming it would become.
If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
I wish I could have started 20 years earlier.
How does your FSB membership help?
I have used the banking service and advice lines, and love reading about fellow businesses with similar goals.
Where will the business be in five years’ time?
With the interest we receive from other countries and a huge gap for this unique attraction, we hope to be providing our machines worldwide in the entertainment and utility vehicle markets.
What do you do outside work?
Surf when I have time and the weather is right. I also love spending time with my family and our pet rabbits.
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