History of Falle's hire car business

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History of Falle's
hire car business


The fleet in the 1960s at the Airport

This article was first published in Jersey Topic magazine in 1965

The 'country garage' of the 1950s

The idea first came to him in Canada in 1949. He was 22 and had gone to the Big Country after working at his father's garage opposite the Chippings Hotel. He was hiring a car from Hertz at the time, and he wondered why more cars were not hired in Jersey.

"This was really the beginning," said Deputy John Falle. "I wouldn't say that this made me come racing back to the island to set up in the car hire business, but it planted the seed firmly in my mind."

Country garage

In 1951 he returned to Jersey and began work in his father's garage. This business had been started by JPV Falle, who is now 72, and was a typical country garage with a good local trade in petrol sales and repairs.

"I really came back to the island for a holiday and to see what sort of business chances there were," he recalled. "The tourist industry was getting under way and it seemed to me that things were beginning to hum. We had six second-hand cars in the garage that we hadn't been able to sell, and I decided to put them out on hire."

And so began a chain of events which even he could not have anticipated. By 1954 he had 14 cars. Business was good, but small. Six years later he had 350.

"I suppose you can say that these were the critical years," he said. "I knew that to be really good I had to be big. But I had a competitor at the time who was pulling out every stop to take over my business. This really made all of us get our heads down and work ourselves into the ground. I began taking on young men who were prepared to work around the clock doing every kind of job — from office administration to car washing and delivering. I have never had a great deal of time for people who won't do jobs because they think they are too good for the job. Even now, when the pressure is on, my executives deliver cars to hotels themselves."

600 hire cars

Today the firm is the biggest in the Channel Islands. In 1964 they had 580 cars. Next year. they will have over 600.

The key to success?

"If there is such a thing I suppose you can put enthusiasm at the top. We have never got blase, believing that we need work no longer for our business. I have drilled into my employees that we have always guaranteed a better service than anybody else and it is vital that we give it. Nowadays this service is paramount.“

I asked Deputy Falle if he found life more busy and hectic now that the firm was big, or did he have more time for other things.

"The critical years during the expansion of the company made me take in some very able young men and I am happy to leave the executive and administration side to them. Without their ability we could never be as big as we are or run as smoothly as we do.”

For the record, these young executives, known as the Merry Men of Falles, are:

  • John Baker, general manager (28)
  • Malcolm Le Grand, company secretary (28)
  • Donald Le Lievre, works manager (38)
  • Patrick Harrison, manager, airport (26)
  • Graeme Rabet, car hire manager, Bagot (26)
  • Albert Bellamy, car hire manager, airport (38)
  • Peter Touzel, foreman, Bagot Road (32)
  • Charles Mercier, foreman, Airport garage (24)
  • John de la Mare, foreman, Roseville Street (25)
  • David Barette, sales manager (26)


The company now employs a staff of over 80 and all of them are permanent.

"We take on a few extras during the summer months but even these are regular members of staff in that they are usually the same people each year,” said Deputy Falle.

The company runs its own non-contributory pension scheme and conditions of work are so good that they seldom have to advertise for staff.

"We find that we seem to attract whole families. We have a number of brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces on our staff, and I think this is in some ways a tribute to the fact that people like working for us.”

It is commonly felt in Jersey that the car hire business is an easy, money-making one. I asked Deputy Falle what he thought of this view.

"Not true," he said. "In fact it is something of a gamble every year. We have already set our hire charges for 1966 and printed 150,000 brochures. Changes in car tax, for instance, can make a big difference to a firm

with 600 cars and can cost us a lot of money. Would you like to gamble a quarter of a million pounds every year just on cars alone?"

For Deputy Falle and his Merry Men the gamble has been right every year. Sheer drive, business acumen and enthusiasm have enabled them to command a place in the business sphere of the island which is unparalleled in the history of tourism in Jersey.

That all this should be achieved by a group of young men is more than encouraging.

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