Beautifully crafted by skilled engineers, the Wardill 4 motorbike promises to offer motorcycle enthusiasts something genuinely different – and distinctly Welsh -when it enters the market. Wardill Motorcycles is a family business based in Pontypridd. Mark Wardill, the great-grandson of the company's founder, Henry Wardill, is busy reviving a firm with a rich heritage. And he has plenty of exciting plans for the future.
Wardill Motorcycles is being supported by the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Here Mark Wardill explains his plans to turn the family business into an iconic Welsh motorcycling brand.
Tell us about Wardill Motorcycles.
It's a story that starts at the beginning of the last century. Wardill Motorcycles was founded by my great grandfather, Henry, in 1927.
The Wardill Motorcycle Company produced the Wardill Motorcycle, which boasted a patented supercharged engine. That revolutionary model was famous for its quality and style and proved its worth both on the road and track. Those core values of quality and style are at the heart of what we're doing today as we bring the company back to life.
I'm proud of my family history and proud of what the generations before me achieved. I wanted to bring the brand back to life and make it fit for the 21st-century, with more than just a nod to its 20th-century origin story. So I redesigned the vintage bike into what will be known as the Wardill 4. This new model is an authentic blend of tradition and iconic design and harnesses the latest engineering techniques.
It will be hand-built in Wales, and each bike will be a new, vintage-style supercharged combination of aviation-quality steel, delivering a raw riding experience.
It was in 2018 that I started the process of redesigning the prototype. I wanted to bootstrap the business, so I worked on the redesign in my spare time while continuing my job as a quantity surveyor and raising a young family.
Now the design has been approved, and the Wardill 4 is ready to go into production, I couldn't be more excited! It feels so emotional to think this development has only been possible because of the work of my forefathers, combined with the work I've put in myself, of course!
It's a family project which has spanned multiple generations. I hope my great grandfather is looking down on the work I've been doing with pride!
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
There have been plenty of proud moments. I'm proud that I can revive a business that has such an emotional connection for me. It's a privilege to take something from my family's past and turn it into a legacy for the future. But what's made me most proud is getting the bike design road registered, meaning it's now approved to go into production and on sale.
What challenges have you faced in business?
Covid has massively affected our plans to get the business up and running.
The pandemic meant lots of setbacks, with supply chain issues and events being cancelled. It meant we had to postpone production, and that could have been a big blow. But I've tried to see these setbacks as opportunities. I've used the time to perfect some of the designs and work on other aspects of the business. While it's been a challenging period, I've been able to learn plenty and plan for the future as well.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
I've built the businesses slowly, so I think that's helped. It's meant I've had plenty of room to adapt as we've grown, which itself has meant any mistakes I've made were minor. With hindsight, I feel that I could have been more organised in my focus on the project. I'm confident that recognising this, will serve me well as we enter the next phase of development.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
I was part of the TownSq Accelerator, which is how I first found out about the programme. I've benefited hugely from the work packages and mentorship I've been lucky enough to receive through the AGP. The programme has helped me as I've formed the company and thought through what I want it to look like as a business.
I've also worked with the University of South Wales, which has supported me with testing and app development. As a start-up with significant growth ambitions, it's been vital to access the support available to us. Support from the AGP has been invaluable in helping us achieve our goals.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Start sooner rather than later.
● Be sure you have a solid financial foundation and can live cheaply while you get started.
● Be confident! I often felt that starting a business was for other people, but as I've gone through the process, I've realised anyone can do it – they just have to believe in themselves and get help from the right people. So don't be afraid to access support!
To learn more about Wardill Motorcycles, visit here.