Archive | Martin Lee’s Blog

Juggling the aftermarket and motorsport is no mean feat

So far 2012 has represented some new and exciting challenges for the CAT team but also a whirlwind of changes for Mr Lee himself.

To give you a flavour of what I have been up to, in January I began a new adventure on a Haymarket consumer title called Motorsport News.   The last 7 months have rattled by but now I find myself fully immersed into the glamorous world of F1, national and world rallying, touring cars and domestic/grass roots club racing.

Just to calm any concerns that you may have,  I will remain in the aftermarket by continuing to lead the dream team of Johnny, Don and Craig (So no emotional farewells or tears of happiness!)

As you can imagine I am juggling between the two brands, but I will be making the efforts to continue to be visible at the trade events, shows and of course IAAF Dinner.

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Mr Lee, international man of mystery, is back… with tales of Worzel Gummidge, dodgy sat nav and the CAT transfer market

I’m back! It’s been quite a few months since I last posted a blog so apologies to everyone who has been in a state of suspense since last November!

Now that the painful wait is finally over, the BIG question on everyone’s lips is: just what has Mr. Lee, international man of mystery, been up to?

 Well I can exclusively reveal that there has rarely been a dull moment, with my fair share of fun road trips visiting CAT’s wonderful clients up and down the UK.

One particular trip sticks in my memory – a trip into the beautiful countryside of Worcestershire to see White Foot Forward. I am a country boy at heart and love a good adventure, but on this occasion things took a slightly sinister twist when my sat nav decided to navigate me through the rolling hills of the deepest Worcestershire wilderness!

I have heard some horror stories about sat navs but nothing quite prepared me for this 1 hour detour… some would say I might have been slightly delirious with tiredness and hunger when I saw Worzel Gummidge and his farmer friends chilling out in the straw field…

To the other extreme, I also paid a visit to the Euro Car Parts Empire in Wembley. In contrast to my earlier adventure, it is a very industrial area nestled beside the imposing Wembley Stadium, which dominates the local Skyline. I was so impressed with ECP, I could see a snapshot to why they are so successful in what they do by just walking around the warehouse.

Back at the office and there has been plenty of activity in the “Haymarket transfer market” between Autosport and CAT magazine.

As most of you will know, we have made a new signing: David Harris (formerly Autosport) has joined the CAT dream team and Jim Foster has gone in the reverse direction to Autosport.

We are sad to lose Jim as he kick-started the new commercial dynamic of CAT and drove our online capabilities. But I’m really pleased to welcome David to the team. He is already bringing lots of fresh and unique ideas to CAT and taking the brand to a whole new level (I don’t think I can forgive him for supporting Cambridge Utd, though!).

So goodbye to Jim, hello to David and now I also have to say a sad goodbye to the legend that is Karen “Lobby” Reilly, who is moving on to a new challenge within Haymarket.

She has been an absolute dream to work alongside and seriously knows her stuff about the aftermarket. I will particularly miss her constant cackling laugh, her make-believe marriage with Valentino Rossi and her lush meatball pasta!

The good news is that there has been a new signing for the CAT All Stars – we’re about to welcome an internal appointment from within Haymarket, someone who is seriously keen to embrace the challenge of the aftermarket!

Our new “Galactico” will be unveiled very soon… watch this space!

So the months really have rattled by, and as we now enter October, it sadly signals the end of the summer for most people. It has definitely been one to remember for me. I have enjoyed an amazing season back home for my club team but also captaining the Haymarket Cricket team to 4th place in our local Twenty20 league!

Having historically never finished above bottom place, this is a MASSIVE achievement and testament to some great team spirit and banter we’ve had throughout the season.

We don’t need any cruel reminders that the British winter is looming large, but it does provide me with an irreplaceable void in my life – and that is cricket. Well, that is until I depart for Australia and the Ashes 3rd Test Match in Perth, where you will catch me dressed as Batman and singing some Barmy Army songs!

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Why you can’t beat an aftermarket trade show

What a month! I have barely had a moment to draw breath so I hope you enjoy this bumper edition blog…

October kicked off with a week in the sun in Cyprus for yet another friend’s wedding.  It does seem like everyone in my circle is starting to settle down into the married way of life, and right now that’s a million miles away for me – thank goodness!

As ever, like any other holiday, the week rattled by. And before I knew it I was back in the work routine… However, after only three days in the office, I was on the Euro Star en route to the city of love – Paris.  This did a nice job of softening the blow!

I always look forward to the overseas trade shows as an ideal opportunity to meet up with European based clients who I would never otherwise see.  Also it’s ideal to maintain and grow new business relationships and listen to what new and exciting product launches are in the pipeline.

On the whole, the feedback about the show was great. Each client that I visited was delighted that they had supported it and more so that they had generated some serious business leads.

One thing I wasn’t looking forward to was the EURO.  I won’t go into too much detail about the cost of drinks out in Paris because it pains me but I think I had the most expensive round for TWO drinks ever when the bill came to 23 Euros. That’s for 1 pint and a Baileys! Can anyone outdo that?

The beauty of the overseas expos is that it’s usually acceptable to have a bottle of beer while chatting on the stands (thank you Suplex). Although I never quite expected to find myself sinking shots of Pernod and Lemon Liqueur with Lobby (my usually tee-total colleague) on the final morning with our clients EEC and MTS Exhausts.

Anyway, at least I slept like a baby on the journey home….

Finally, and on a more recent note, I have just got back from the Mechanex at Sandown Park, which looked to be a great success for everyone involved. Clearly, the CAT crew were out in force at the show ensuring that we are au fait with all the upcoming launches for 2010.

It was a non-stop couple of days and I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to chat, especially at such a busy show – your time is always appreciated and valued!

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Barmy army antics – all in the name of work!

Martin's hero Freddie with the Urn

Martin's hero Freddie with the Urn

Holidays aside, for me the summer signals the start of an altogether more serious season.

You may have noticed from my earlier blogs that I have a passion (or borderline obsession) for the game of cricket.

So I could not write without mentioning England’s astonishing victory against the “convict colony”.

It’s been 2 weeks since England reclaimed the little Ashes urn and, for me, the celebrations are only just getting started. Well done lads!

I was fortunate enough to snaffle some tickets for a lucky CAT mag client and a colleague to the recent Edgbaston Test Match in Birmingham.

It was a fantastic opportunity to entertain a close client, talk some business, enjoy some barmy army banter and also indulge in some (soft) drinks… ha!

I’ve definitely had my fill this summer. Roll on the gloom of the British winter…

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One wedding, one 30th birthday and ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier

So as quickly as it arrived, the great British summer has disappeared, hang on what summer?

There may not have been much sun, but this year I have reason to remember an action-packed summer full of sport, weddings, a random meeting with boxing champ Joe Frazier, holiday jollies, an emphatic Ashes victory and a memorable CAT 30th anniversary.

It seems like yesterday that CAT was celebrating its 30th year. It really kicked off the summer for the CAT team, involving stacks of hard work, dedication and some good banter along the way.

Three months later, we are still receiving messages of congratulation and support on our birthday edition. Thank you to everyone for those.

Since then, Team CAT has continued to work its fingers to the bone by rolling out more bumper issues for July, August and September – and, of course, this website.

With all this hard work and graft, we have all enjoyed deserved holidays away. My choice of destination was my former homeland, the USA.

I re-visited the Philadelphia and New York City area for seven days of the rock and roll lifestyle! The whole week was such a blur, with lots of shopping, the odd beer, catching up with old friends, lying on a beach, some more beers, and topped off with the wedding of the century!

I should also add that we bumped into a boxing legend in a hotel lift, ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the man who knocked out Mohammed Ali! A great character.

However, the week will be mostly remembered for the most lavish wedding ever. And a great day for a close friend. All things considered, I can confirm that the holiday did not re-charge any batteries and I returned to CAT HQ more tired than when I left.

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Cricket’s T20 World Cup: Love it!

Martin desperately wanted them to do the can-canDANCING GIRLS

Imagine the glamour, the music, the colour, the dancing girls, perhaps a shandy or two and some mighty big hitting.

For those of you who don’t follow cricket, I am describing a typical day at Twenty20 cricket.

As many of you will know, I am a mad keen cricket fan and I have been lucky to watch cricket around the world, including an Ashes series in Australia.

But nothing quite prepared me for the intensity of what I experienced at Lords Cricket Ground on Sunday 14th June at this year’s world T20.


I’d been given some tickets as a bonus for CAT’s 30th birthday issue doing so well, and was determined to make the most of them.

The day began rather sedately with a train ride from the wilderness of the Sussex countryside where I live, heading into the big smoke for a do-or-die encounter between the under achieving but highly talented England and India, the reigning champions.

It promised to be a day of high octane thrill a minute cricket – it did not disappoint!


Basking in the London sunshine and sitting in the best seats in the house, the stage was set at the Mecca of world cricket.

I had flavour of what to expect with a Game 1, which was Sri Lanka v Ireland: a close game with the Sri Lankans the eventual winners.

Once this game had ended, the big screens panned in on the England squad ready to enter the arena to warm up. They were greeted with a chorus of boos from 20,000 partisan Indian fans.

That’s a bit like Michael Heseltine coming to work and getting loudly booed by us lot on CAT!

I doubt Lords had ever seen anything like this, the England team looked totally bemused and we all wondered how they would react.


As the game got the underway, the atmosphere reached new deafening levels, the Indians ramped things up with their whistles and others weird and wonderful musical instruments.

Cricket really is a religion for India!

Seated in the Grand Stand and nicely opposite the dancing girls, we were treated to some revealing dance routines (oooooh!),  not to mention the cricketing shots.

With every boundary and at the end of each over, the DJ played his tunes and the dancers would appear on a mini stage to wow the ogling crowd.

How cricket has evolved!

It was a memorable day of thrills and spills… and thankfully an England victory, but not without the loss of a few finger nails.

Roll on the Ashes…

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