At Morgan, they’re used to visitors arriving late.
Even if the traffic flow through the notorious M5 roadworks doesn’t impede their progress, new arrivals will still wander the confusing roads of the lower Malvern Hills for a while before discovering Pickersleigh Road and the cluster of old factory buildings that has been Morgan’s home for all but three of the past 106 years.
When I arrive at the reception centre, I run the gauntlet of Morgan’s everpresent visitors. They throng the place. The company shows nearly 30,000 souls a year through its Malvern Link site and needs 15 part-time guides (mostly Morgan owners) to handle it, which is partly why they charge £20 a head for the pleasure.
On this Tuesday, people are already forming happy groups for factory tours, returning or collecting cars they’ve hired, lining up for hour-long paid passenger rides, thronging the Morgan shop (about to be trebled in size to increase stock and ease pressure) or simply hanging out in the spacious café because it just feels good being there.
That’s the thing about Morgan: even a mere business visitor feels good being there. I can’t help noticing that while most customers are on the venerable side of middle age, those who cater to their needs are young, well versed in company lore and evidently proud to be there. This already says a lot about the modern Morgan culture and the man whose job is to nurture it.
When I finally arrive in his office, Steve Morris, Morgan managing director for the past three years, has already been working for a couple of hours. He smiles and explains that he likes early mornings because you get stuff done before the pandemonium. This isn’t one of those managing directorial jobs where flunkies grease wheels and chase away complications. You get into everything: racing, weekend club prize-givings, dealer visits, car launches to customers, complaints, negotiations with suppliers and everything in between.
Right now, Morris is signing a pile of cards as if it were Christmas and not the early summer. It’s because every buyer of a new Morgan gets a note of thanks and congrats from the company’s top man, straight after taking delivery. Plenty of owners have a dozen of these. Morgan people tend not to stray.
Morris waves me into a comfortable chair and magics up a cup of tea so we can talk. Turns out Morris is in the wrong office and has been for several years. He’s supposed to be in the one next door, previously inhabited by Charles Morgan and his father, Peter, before that. And founder HFS Morgan in the first instance, of course. This place goes with his old job as operations director, but it has been hard to find the time to move.