Catherine McEwan
Catherine McEwan

Cathy McEwan – A name many of our customers will know.

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Cathy has been part of Bernhard for 13 years. She joined the company in June 2001 and said, “In some respects I feel like I have been here forever, it’s like my home.”

As Territory Support, Cathy predominantly deals with the UK sales team, but also assists the other sales teams across the world. She looks after the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database; keeping it up to date and ensuring that everyone is using the system correctly and effectively.

Born in 1966 in Tiddington near Stratford-upon-Avon Cathy’s family moved house a lot. “My dad had wandering feet and we moved house 8 times until we settled in Warwick where I went to school at 8. I’m still there and my dad, who is now 85, lives close by.

“From school I went straight to work in catering in the local hotel industry before moving into telemarketing, sales and recruitment. I realised fairly quickly that I liked to deal with people and customer care.

When I first joined Bernhard my job was in telemarketing. We worked in a rather ancient office, not the smartest of surroundings, and I dealt with Central & Eastern USA liaising with our distributors, looking at golf course habits – what they were buying, what they were using. I then went on to look after the UK dealing directly with the end user and following the sales process right through.

Bernhard has grown enormously and we now work from a super office that even has garden furniture on a decking area for us to use during our lunchtimes. What could be better than that?

The main function of my role is to support the sales team. I help with any in-bound enquiries from new and existing customers. I talk to a lot of users every day and manage the Users Club, signing up new members and ensuring they get their welcome packs and 10% discount on parts and consumables. I also coordinate seminars and training sessions at our factory training centre or at the customer’s site, mostly in the UK but also across Europe.

I am always around to advise and support the team and our customers and I love the variety that my job offers. You never know from one day to the next what is going to happen and whatever turns up, I react to. I love the freedom to manage my own day although here at the Rugby office we all muck in. We’ve all been here for such a long time so everyone knows what’s going on. We get on well and have rubbed off each other’s corners!”

Outside work Cathy loves to cook, particularly curry dishes; she loves to spend time in Wales, she loves her cat Spot, and then there are the trains…

Partner, Simon runs his own business making and supplying garden railways and rolling stock.

“I do get involved in Simon’s work.” Cathy laughs.

It would be hard not to as he works from a large shed in their garden where he manufactures everything. One of the spare bedrooms is for painting and finishing and the sitting room doubles up as an office, and of course, Cathy and Simon have their own track and trains in the garden.

“We exhibit at 6 shows a year in the UK selling rolling stock and accessories. It is a lovely world and nice to share our passion with so many other collectors and interested people.

The trains are ‘12th scale’, so a person would be 6” high and all the buildings, houses and supporting bits are to scale. Simon builds these to order mostly, although we produce stock before the shows and the house fills up with resin kits, and white metal and brass accessories.

Last year one of the other manufacturers’ made an exact copy of a Welsh slate quarry steam engine that would have been over 100 years old and Simon built some rolling stock and figures to support it. The scale we work in is not a big market place and most of the manufacturers work together and do what they can to support each other’s products. Some of us who bought the model steam engine met up in Dinorwic slate quarry where the original trains worked and set up some rail and ran the engines and rolling stock, which was great fun.

At the moment he is making a scale model for someone who owns a ‘Lister’ diesel engine, and one of his colleagues is making a personalised model of the owner – working from photographs. The engines we supply are usually battery powered but can be radio controlled. We don’t produce the steam-powered locomotives but those that do can either make them run just like the real ones on coal, or on methylated spirit.”

Cathy’s other great love is walking, especially in Wales, her favourite place in the world.

“We love Porthmadog, even when it is pouring with rain and we’re soaked to the bone and we love being by the sea. I still can’t resist paddling, even in the dead of winter, that childhood joy never goes away.”