The changing face of mobile


Seventeen years ago, the surname Boden meant little or nothing to most in the mobile industry. Now, Andrew Boden is MD of Orange distributor Mainline and it was his father that gave Geoff Ashley one of his first leg-ups in the industry.

Ashley Communications was founded in Winsford, Cheshire in January 1990, situated between Crewe and Northwich, and there is one distinct memory of that time that sticks in Ashleys mind.

I was put in touch with Mercury Office Equipment, then owned by David Boden, Andrew Bodens father, who really helped me get the business going. I became his first dealer when they became Mainline, with an account number of 00001.

Having such a unique account number always reminds me who gave me one of my first breaks in the industry all those years ago.

In its first month of business, the independent only sold five phones but nonetheless, Ashley was confident things would improve quickly.

At the end of January 1990, I remember one of my suppliers insisting that by month six, I should be selling 15 phones every month, he recalls. At that point I laughed it off but sure enough he was right and it went from 15 every month, to 25 and onwards.

Ashley had a more beneficial route into the mobile industry than most, working in the motor industry for 27 years prior to starting the dealership.

He began as an apprentice mechanic, moved onto sales, into sales management and then to general management: When I was a child I loved cars and was only interested in working with them one day.

Towards the end of the 1980s I was working all the hours I could in the motor trade but decided I wanted a complete change, because I could sense something big was going to happen with mobile phones although I never anticipated at the time that it would be as big as it is now.

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