James Baggott: Feather-clad cars, the Ark Royal – what will the next 100 issues bring?

James Baggott: Feather-clad cars, the Ark Royal – what will the next 100 issues bring?

IT’S been quite a journey – there have been some incredible highs, and there have been a few unbelievable lows – but when I’m lying on my death bed I know I’ll look back at these years as a golden age, a time when I couldn’t have been happier, a time when we were creating something different, something unique – and having a blast doing it.

Sat here, as I look at the front of the 100th issue of Car Dealer, it’s hard not to look back at every one of those covers so beautifully laid out by our talented head of design at the front of this special issue, and not reminisce about some truly amazing times.

Looking back to those days creating the first few issues – on my own, in my conservatory – little did I know that those long hours, that hard work and those simple ideas would grow into what it has become today.

Car Dealer now holds an enviable position as the most-read motor trade publication in the country – it’s sent directly to 12,000 dealers every month and more than 7,000 other motor trade professionals digest every issue on their iPad via our unique App. We are proud to hold the largest motor trade Expo in the UK – CDX saw more than 2,000 delegates walk the Silverstone halls this year and you’ve already read all about it in this anniversary issue.

And then we host the only motor trade awards for the used car industry, an area of the trade that is becoming more and more important every year.

CDX16 - 180

CDX16 attracted more than 2,000 delegates

In 100 issues we’ve bought and sold cars for charity, driven cars covered in feathers to odd places, made a Volvo look like the Ark Royal, delivered car parts in a Lamborghini and unleashed the legend that is Big Mike on the world. Oh, and given birth to a ridiculous-trouser-colour-wearing man named Batch (remember him? No, us neither…).

We’ve driven from Gothenburg to Gosport in a Volvo, crossed Europe in a Skoda and driven around deepest darkest Russia in a Mazda. But there have been some lows too – we’ve crashed cars, upset manufacturers and fallen foul of some almighty publishing blunders.

But that’s life, that’s magazines and that’s what happens when you’re creating tens of thousands of words a month about a subject you feel so passionately about.

Times have changed dramatically since those days of stressing about paying the next printer’s bill. Now, as I sit looking out through the window into a bustling office, I’ve got considerably more help to pull each issue together. I’m surrounded by a team of brilliant writers – producing up to 30 motoring stories a day for brands like AOL, the Press Association and many more. We’ve recruited some professional PR people who turn dealer stories into much more for a host of manufacturers, while my video team produces truly dramatic and breathtaking automotive footage for companies all over the world.

We’ve got designers, events specialists and truly talented technical experts who can make clever things happen with the internet. Every day I walk into the office I’m inspired by a team I’m lucky to call colleagues – and yes, I might get a bit shouty at times, but that’s because I care, because I’m passionate about doing things the right way and creating products that entertain, enthuse and inspire.

Used Car Awards 2015 generic crowd shot by Jonny Fleetwood

The Used Car Awards get more popular every year

Over 100 issues, we’ve forged fantastic relationships with some brilliant suppliers to the motor trade and reported on some true innovations that have helped make dealers’ lives that little bit easier. This magazine – and our events – are only the success they are because of the support of these great businesses and I can’t thank them enough for believing in me back in those conservatory days when I pitched them a dream in a PowerPoint.

This is starting to sound like a eulogy, or my leaving speech, but I’m not going anywhere and I’m pretty sure I’m not dead (much to Vauxhall’s disgust), so I’ll wrap up with the important stuff: You.

Car Dealer wouldn’t have made 100 issues if you, our readers, hadn’t embraced it. Since that first issue arrived on your desks in April 2008 you’ve been feverish in your feedback. Never ones to hold back, you’ve always told me how it is and helped me shape this, your magazine, for the better. I thank you for that support, for enjoying the magazine, for reading our rants, our reports and our road tests and for doing business with those great companies that advertise with us.

We’re not going anywhere – 100 issues is just the start – and one thing remains perfectly clear in my mind: Every single one of those magazines to come will be filled with the passion for the motor trade you’ve proven drives this inspiring business forward every single day.

Who is James Baggott? He’s the founder of Car Dealer Magazine and Chief Executive Officer of parent company @BaizeGroup, an automotive services provider. He now spends most of his time on Twitter @CarDealerEd and annoying the rest of us.

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