In our new feature, Staff Offload, we will be chatting to members of the Jempsons team to bring you the answers to some burning questions. Ever wondered whether Jonathan Jempson has a soft side? Read on…
Jonathan Jempson, Chairman, 73
In the spirit of this month’s Valentine’s Day, what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?
For my wife Sarah’s 40th, after a mystery drive, we ended up at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells where, unbeknownst to her, I had arranged a helicopter to pick us up. She had no idea where we were going and it flew us back to the field at the bottom of our garden, where there was a party of friends waiting to greet her – complete with a red carpet, Champagne and a delicious lunch.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Probably an engine driver.
What’s your dream car?
The trouble is, with all the speed restrictions these days I have rather lost enthusiasm for sports cars. My first was a Triumph TR4A, followed by three E-Type Jaguars and I still have a 966 Turbo Porsche in my garage which is rarely used. When I started driving there were no limits and it was a bit more fun.
What was the biggest challenge of running the business when you were in charge?
Personnel. Managing people is difficult because everybody is different; you need to take what you’ve got and maximise the strengths and minimise the weaknesses.
What was the hardest thing about working with your father, John Jempson, when you first entered the firm?
We had one office between us and when I was on the phone he used to stand behind me and tell me what to say. I used to slam the phone down. It wasn’t easy. Eventually he started letting me do my own thing a bit more.
What was the naughtiest thing you did at school?
I was pretty good really. I didn’t fancy being beaten. However I recall once being beaten for saying the Catholic version of Latin grace. Another time I went to the cinema in Tonbridge, where I was a boarder, with a group of friends, which wasn’t allowed. I think we watched the film Never On A Sunday. One of our masters suddenly came and sat down in the row with us and never looked at us or said a word. He knew we were there but let us get away with it.