Iain ‘Fin’ Finlayson served 23 years in the British Army as a vehicle mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, for the most part within 3 Commando Brigade, and learned his trade working on Mk2 Escorts and Series 2 & 3 Land Rovers.
Classic cars were his passion and, in 1991, he bought a 1972 MG Midget, the first of 15 different classic vehicles he would own.
After leaving the Armed Forces, Iain fell seriously ill and spent some time in hospital, where he learned to use a sewing machine which he credits for unlocking his creative mind. He realised he could fulfil his ambition to start creating beautiful car interiors. Iain said:
“After suffering a disastrous mental breakdown, my wife and I decided it was the right time to take a step back in life, size up the situation and move forward with something that would give us both a feeling of fulfilment and purpose. We are avid believers that you should always do things that you enjoy and this was key in choosing what avenue we should go down.”
Iain took a formal training course to bring him up to speed with the industry and hone his skills and, with his wife Lisa, the business was ready to launch. The couple felt excited about meeting lots of people with similar interests and vehicle obsessions.
“Making that step from having an idea to doing it for real was a challenge. You have to believe in yourself and have the confidence in your knowledge and abilities. We, as Armed Forces veterans, offer far more than we give ourselves credit for.”
‘Timeless Auto Trim’ is located in Middlesbrough and offers restoration and customisation services including complete re-upholstery and re-trimming including carpets, door cards and headlining.
In trademarking the business name, they’d initially been opposed by Aston Martin Lagonda over the use of the word ‘timeless’ but they have now legally agreed to coexist.
“My wife and I both wake every day with a sense of excitement for what the day has in store, and we love arriving and opening the door each morning. It often doesn’t feel like a job as we get to choose our own hours and free time. We feel really proud to say we own our own company when people ask us what do we do for a living.”
Iain and Lisa have plans to expand, now the business has established. Iain said:
“Our presence has been well received, both as a business and as individuals, and we have already secured regular clients. It is hoped that we maintain our visibility and build our name to be well known as a reliable and trusted business. It is very likely that we will require extra staff to meet the demand in future and, eventually, I’d like to offer training courses.”
Iain was grateful for the guidance provided by X-Forces Enterprise when developing his business plan:
“XFE helped me to understand the legalities of trading and to simplify which avenues we were best to take. This gave us more confidence and belief in our idea and plans.”
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Iain’s journey into enterprise has been supported by a unique collaboration between the charity Help for Heroes and business support service X-Forces Enterprise. Since it started in 2014, the Business Experience programme has supported over 200 wounded, injured and sick service men and women. The 6-day hands-on course delivers bespoke support tailored to each individual’s circumstances and ideas to build confidence and knowledge in the world of business, which is for most a completely alien environment.