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16 Aug 2018
BY Ali Findlay

Ten Years of The Lane: How it all began

Looking ba-a-ck, ov-er my shoulder

Recently a client asked me two really fundamental questions: why I set up The Lane, and why I chose the name. It really took me back and I thought it might be a good idea to share my trip down memory lane...
 
Before I started The Lane I was Head of Marketing at The John Martin Group (trading as Belmont and Murray Motor Company). At that time the Group had over 20 branches and turnover was over £160m – it was one of the most dynamic, award-winning motor retailers in the UK. I had a team of around 15 media buyers, creative and account people looking after our 20 or so internal clients, and a customer service centre in Glasgow too. The weeks were long, fast-paced and fun. Having grown up through the business, I was lucky enough to be working with my best friend, John Martin Jnr. Set to take over from his Dad, I was ready to support him as I had been doing for over a decade. Outside of work, John, his wife Linda, and my husband Phil and I were best friends. With our little group of ‘Bon Viveurs’ we worked hard and partied hard.
 
After the sudden passing of our friend and the group’s heir, the organisation shifted direction and John’s father, a true entrepreneurial spirit, agreed to support me in setting up The Lane with my Creative Director at the time, Paul. It was a deal that reflected the relationship and mutual dedication as well as John’s own love of go-getters. After all, he was one, and it was something he always encouraged and celebrated. So, with the John Martin Group as our first client, The Lane was born. We operated as a fledgling subsidiary to start with then in 2008 set out on our own two feet with our very own offices in the same building we’re in now (albeit in a bigger space!). We soon added several new clients to the roster including Heritage Portfolio, Nick Nairn and Peter Vardy – all of whom we still treasure as clients today. 
 
So finally, why ‘The Lane’? I was no stranger to John Martin Snr’s tales of his early days in business. He started a workshop in a back lane in Edinburgh, and set his business apart by going the extra mile, always doing something surprising and really taking an interest in his clients and what made them tick. It was a philosophy that I shared and hoped would underpin the ethos of the agency going forward. So, as a nod of respect to both John Snr and my beloved friend, The Lane was named. I’ll never forget his help and inspiration, I’ll never forget my friend John who I will love and miss forever, and I never forget what it was that set his and my businesses apart.
 
Fast forward through a load of awards, fantastic staff and a tonne of hard work – The Lane is now not just one business but two. The Lane Agency and The Lane Media Agency. I have shareholding director partners in Ian Duncan, Chris Bruce and Barry Fearn. They’re equal drivers of The Lane today and will keep us on track in the future when I’ve decided to take it easier. We’re working on the pathway to what a more diverse board might look like. One of people who will share our founding principles of:

  • Fostering talent in others
  • Working hard
  • Being entrepreneurial
  • Focusing on results
  • Going the extra mile.

We’ve come a long, long way in ten years – and while it’s always emotional looking back, we’re always going to be excited about things to come. Here’s to the next decade of doing what we do!