Lawrence Chard |
The founder of the company Chard (1964) Limited is Lawrence Chard.
Lawrence was born, raised, educated, and lived in Blackpool, and still resides in Cleveleys which is just to the north of Blackpool.
The Chard family ran a number of diverse businesses, mainly set out by Lawrence's paternal grandmother Gladys Chard, who was unusual in being a female entrepreneur and businesswoman when such things were almost unheard of.
Being raised in a family business environment is a great background, education, apprenticeship and internship. He can remember helping out on a tea cart on Blackpool Central Beach, in charge of the fruit squash sales. Whilst still at junior school, he could add and give correct change faster and more accurately than the customers, including adults, he was serving.
While still aged in single figures, he also helped give change in a small amusement arcade at 6 & 8 Dale Street Blackpool. He can remember trying to collect one of every date of penny at the time, but this was still many years before he was aware of numismatics.
The family also operated another amusement arcade at 45 Promenade Blackpool. Lawrence and his cousin Robert Alan used to help give change, count the takings with an old hand-cranked counting machine, clean, service and repair machines, deal with customers, and man the office. In about 1963 a part-time dealer gave them a short price list of key date coins he would buy for sale to the flourishing American market. The boys soon discovered that with a little practice, a few hours sorting work could earn them as much as a few days wages, and it was not long before they were both buying and selling, often through Exchange & Mart. In 1964, the pair formed a partnership called R. & L. Coins, which traded from a family owned shop at 10 Dale Street Blackpool. When Alan went to Aston University in 1965, he sold his share to Lawrence, who continued to run it almost full time while still in the Sixth Form at Blackpool Grammar School.
The business moved to 521 Lytham Road Blackpool in 1968, from where it still partially operates, although the move round the corner to 32 - 36 Harrowside should be completed soon.
The business has seen much change and any cycles in its time, from the pre-decimalisation boom, to silver and gold price booms and bust, government intervention in the Form of the Exchange Control Order, all but killing the domestic gold coin market, VAT being unfairly imposed on secondary market goods for many years.
Lawrence believes that flexibility and adaptation to change has helped the business survive and flourish through these changes, helped by a strict application of high ethical standards. He has seen many less scrupulous competitors come and go during this time, often making a lot of money during the booms, but disappearing in the busts, often with customers money.
Lawrence has been a keen cyclist, completing a solo European tour at the age of 16; chess player, contract bridge player, and skier. There are times when he worked 6 or 7 day weeks, 12 hour days. Chard were one of the first coin dealers to have a significant internet presence; Lawrence personally created about 20,000 pages of the company's websites. In recent years, he has been taking things sightly easier, but still attends the office and showroom most days, but still authors web pages from home or while on holiday.
In 2015, daughter Juliana has joined the business after 10 years as a hospital pharmacist, and is bringing new energy, knowledge and skills into the business.
Apart from providing continuity, this means Lawrence should get more time to hone his off-piste skiing technique as an active member of the Ski Club of Great Britain.
If time permits, be on the lookout for a book about gold bullion coins for collectors and investors.