To mark 18 years in business, the managing director of Lincoln-based Forces Cars Direct Ltd, Steve Thornton, has announced a new milestone: £100 million in savings on car purchases passed on to the military community and everyday heroes, via subsidiary Motor Source Group, since 2001.
After leaving the Army and becoming disheartened with the lack of appreciation or support extended to military personnel by companies on civvy street, Steve established Forces Cars Direct to offer substantial savings to members of the armed forces posted overseas. Through securing discounts with all major vehicle manufacturers and passing savings on, Steve and his fledgling firm were able to offer up to 35 per cent off RRPs, becoming the first online car sales company of its kind in the process.
Shortly after the global economic recession and with many men and women leaving the forces due to redundancy or following the mass withdrawal of UK troops from Germany in 2010, Steve recognised the need to extend the eligibility criteria to include former military personnel and those stationed in the UK too. It was at this point Steve captioned the firm’s ethos: if you serve, you save.
Brand ambassador for Forces Cars Direct, adventurer, former soldier and presenter of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, Ant Middleton, believes building a business on the desire to do good stands the firm apart from the herd: “People are baffled that a business like Forces Cars Direct exists – that a profit-making business can be philanthropic and operate on the basis of giving back, whether that’s through passing on savings to customers or donating a portion of each sale to charities like SSAFA. I’m extremely proud to be associated with the company. Here’s to the next £100 million!”
In 2013 the company evolved further, launching Motor Source Group, to offer the same benefits to Britain’s everyday heroes, including teachers, NHS workers, paramedics, police officers, prison officers and the fire and rescue services.
Six years on, the mission of offering the best possible deals and services for Steve’s military colleagues, past and present, as well as public sector workers who go above and beyond the call of duty, with little recognition or reward, has been well and truly accomplished.
Commenting on the milestone, Steve – who was nominated this month for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Ex Military in Business awards – attributes the firm’s success to its underlying desire to give something back. “When I came out of the Army in 1994, after serving in the first Gulf war, I bought a car and it’s no exaggeration to say, I got well and truly turned over. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, this was the beginning of something really positive. For all their sacrifice, the poor treatment and inflexibility offered to the military community by most companies aggravated me. It also ignited a spark of an idea: what if I could give something back? What if I could convince manufacturers to provide discounts on new vehicles, especially for the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country?
Steve continues: “Fast forward 18 years and Forces Cars Direct Ltd, which includes Motor Source group, has expanded to offer the same savings to military personnel, regardless of when or how long they served or where they’re posted. Opening the offers up to public sector workers, “or everyday heroes” as we like to call them, who, let’s face it, don’t go into their line of work for the money or the fame, also seemed like the right thing to do.
“Saving this community £100 million is mind blowing and something I didn’t imagine would be possible when I started out. Yet meeting that milestone has only made me more determined to keep on giving back and, in doing so, helping to get the message out that we owe these people a continuous debt of gratitude.”