Two teenagers who have been friends since they were 12 years old have set up their own automobile and property businesses in Darlington.
Chris Hughes, from Hurworth, and Ben Pickering, from Middleton St George, met in secondary school and began their business venture 14 months ago after merging their specialties. Park Lane Automobiles is a used car specialist that buys and sells used cars and the pair’s property business Pickering Wayside Real Estate purchases houses and puts them on the rental market.
After being made redundant from his accountancy apprenticeship as lockdown began, Ben decided to focus on what had been on his mind since secondary school — business. Chris studied business, media and geography and the two friends joined forces.
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Ben said: “I always had accountancy, my mam wanted me to be an accountant and straight out of school I got an apprenticeship in accountancy. But I knew in school from about 15, 16 that business was what I was going to be in and property in particular.
“It takes time and effort and when we had these ideas in mind we were constantly consuming information like podcasts, educational videos, reading books and that really set us in good stead.”
For Chris, his time studying business in college turned out to be nothing like the reality of starting his own business. He said: “Even though business and media sounds like what we would do on a daily basis now a lot of what Ben and I have had to do has been self-studied.
“Ever since secondary school we’ve had such a strong bond. We’ve had very similar values when it comes to business.”
Pickering Wayside Real Estate currently has eight properties in its portfolio and the pair have recently acquired a Darlington industrial unit for Park Lane Automobiles. The teenagers are also gradually building their personal brand via ‘Day in the Life’ videos documenting their journey on social media.
They have created a YouTube channel named ‘Day in the life of Chris and Ben’ and a podcast called ‘Mindset of a young entrepreneur’. Chris and Ben hope showcasing their journey will inspire and motivate other like-minded young people to take the “seemingly overwhelming” plunge into business.
Ben said: “We’re always learning new things and we’re growing all the time. We’ve expanded relatively quickly considering the time scale.
“There’s loads of challenges — every day is a challenge really. It’s just learning to overcome those challenges and push forward.”