The global pandemic has impacted on every aspect of life – but for Tom Giles, the new owner of Revive! Aberdeen it provided the impetus and finance he needed to make a major career change.
Originally from Canada with a degree in petroleum engineering from Montana University, 49-year-old Tom spent his whole working life in the oil industry, moving to Aberdeen with his work in 1998.
As a specialist in directional drilling, his job took him all over Europe, rising through management ranks to the post of UK operations manager for Weatherford International.
The already volatile oil industry was one of the worst hit by the pandemic, and Tom was asked to make half of his 57- strong team redundant in April 2020. A task he hated, and one that led him to question his future.
“It was just the worst time. Having to let really good, talented people know by Zoom that they were going to lose their jobs didn’t sit comfortably with me.”
“I was working really long hours and felt like I was on a constant hamster wheel. My work-life balance was terrible, and I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. When the call went out for volunteers in the second round of redundancies I applied and spent an anxious two months waiting to see if they would let me go.”
Fortunately for Tom and Revive! his application for voluntary redundancy was accepted. Now he could carry on his research into taking on a SMART repair franchise and begin the next exciting chapter of his career funded by his redundancy package.
As a life-long enthusiast who has owned many cars since he moved to Aberdeen, Tom has always found it hard to find skilled repairers to carry out cosmetic work on his own vehicles, so he knew there was a strong demand for a top-quality SMART repair service in the area. Whilst he had excellent management and financial skills, he lacked the necessary knowledge needed to set off on this new direction and all his research kept pointing to Revive!.
“I knew that following a proven business model was the way to go, and it was just a matter of choosing the right franchise brand. Revive! came top of all the internet searches I made, and the more I read about the company the more impressed I became.”
“I went onto forums and all the discussions about Revive! were positive, so decided to contact franchise director Cathryn Hayes to start the application process to buy Revive! Aberdeen.”
The Revive! management franchise training programme has been adapted as a result of the lockdown with classroom sessions being held online rather than at the franchise’s new headquarters complex in Rugby. Tom went to the Revive! training academy for his final week of practical training, all of which was carried out following the strictest social distancing procedures.
“By the time I went to the Revive! training academy I had already met so many people via Zoom that everything felt very comfortable and familiar, making it easier somehow. The time learning the technical aspects of the job has been invaluable, giving me a solid foundation on which to learn and the confidence to know I will eventually get to where I need to be. It provided me with many operational insights, knowledge that can only be gained through experience, to call on when dealing with customer complaints or when managing staff in this particular industry.”
Tom and his two technicians opened Revive! Aberdeen on 29 March and their two vans were quickly on the road. Retail demand has been so high that Tom is considering adding another van already, putting him well on the way to meeting his business plan target of having a five-van business by the end of year four.
Concluded Tom: “If it weren’t for COVID, I probably would never have left the oil industry and not had the chance to start a whole new career as my own boss doing something I love. I have been able to spend far more time with my wife Kim and young son Caleb – and even our Cypriot rescue dog Roman gets to ride around with me in the car when I am out quoting for jobs!
“I am building a business for all of our futures and feel lucky that I have had this opportunity to set off on an exciting and challenging new path.”