The first installation into a PFS (Petrol Filling Station). This was one of six pilot installations carried out for Tesco. It led to thousands of machines installed in PFS and Express stores the length and breadth of the UK.
Sitting in my home office gazing out of the window I'm taken back to that moment, thirty years ago, when I kicked the children out of the playroom and declared "This is now the sales and admin office for Smoke Screen!" Another Karmic cycle completed; what went around eventually came around.
What a commercially naïve bunch we were. Having spent a couple of years developing what we considered to be the ultimate in proactive electronic and physical security systems, we were keen to plunge into the commercial security sector.
We had identified several routes to market: the police, alarm installers and insurance companies. I can recall early demonstrations and the shocked expressions of our audiences as they were engulfed in rolling banks of dense, white fog. Time and time again we were slapped on the back and confidently assured that this wonderful new concept would make us all millionaires.
Fortunately, at one such demonstration, the audience included a grizzled, world-weary gentleman who, I later discovered, was a much-respected insurance industry risk assessor. He took the time to offer up his counsel. "It doesn't matter what people tell you, no matter how good your product is it will take years for it to become accepted!" It was advice that we took to heart as we dug in and prepared for the long run.
Anyone who has started their own business will attest to the fact that the early years are a little like a rollercoaster ride. Swooping highs followed by gut-wrenching troughs. Waking up at three in the morning wondering how you are going to scrape together enough cash to pay the telephone bill. But we were making progress and the number of Smoke Screen installations was growing.