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Banchory businessman Karol Ejsmont welcomes Filip to his growing motorhome fleet

Karol Ejsmont, of Oaklands Motorhome Hire.
Karol Ejsmont, of Oaklands Motorhome Hire.

Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Karol Ejsmont, owner of Banchory-based Oaklands Motorhome Hire.

How and why did you start in business?

I’m a Polish national and first came to Scotland in March 2007 in order to take up a customer-facing role in the cafe at Balmoral Estates.

All staff lived in accommodation on the estate. As there was no internet connection, we’d spend our free time exploring the beautiful surroundings.

I immediately fell in love with the unspoiled Scottish countryside on Royal Deeside.

In March 2020, just days before we were hit with the first lockdown, I decided it was time to play my part in helping to promote the fantastic scenery – not just on our doorstep on Deeside but across Scotland and I invested in my first motorhome, Harry.

It wasn’t the best time to start a business, given the travel restrictions, but even with the turmoil of the past two years I wouldn’t change a thing.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy. Each motorhome costs around £50,000 and over the past two years I’ve invested and grown the fleet to three.

With a starting capital of nil, it’s taken a lot of determination, sleepless nights and hard work to secure the appropriate funding and grow the business.

But this is just the start and it would be great to keep expanding the fleet as demand increases.

Who helped you?

My wife, Kirstin, has helped and supported me every step of the way, while also working herself and raising our four-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son.

Our son had a difficult start to life, with numerous hospital visits which would be stressful for anyone let alone a family at the early stages of trying to run and grow a successful business.

The support from family and friends was invaluable during this time, not only for us as a family but also for our business.

I’ve recently had help from the Federation of Small Businesses via its online networking events and support webinars.

It’s been great to be able to pitch my business to potential customers across the UK, and hear from guest speakers at the top of their game.

What is your biggest mistake?

I like to think of mistakes as lessons learnt. They’re only mistakes if you keep making them.

What is your greatest achievement?

In just two years I have built a locally recognised company known for a high level of customer service and high-quality motorhomes.

Most customers are local and have heard about us via word of mouth, which is fantastic.

If you were in power in government, what would you change?

Thankfully I am not as sometimes my decision-making process is controversial, which my wife will attest to.

But I would like further investment in tourism infrastructure around Scotland to help attract and retain visitors for longer.

Staycations have increased over the past two years but there are many parts of Scotland which still lack basic facilities and have poor roads.

There are lessons that can be learned from other countries which often have superior facilities and stronger relationships, and better understanding from local communities.

What do you still hope to achieve?

I’d like more people in Scotland to appreciate what lies on their doorstep and swap their flip-flops on a Spanish Costa for the silver sands of Morar.

An unquestionable benefit of hiring a motorhome in Scotland is the close proximity to many beautiful sites.

My wife is Scottish and our motorhome holidays have shown her places here she didn’t know existed.

What do you do to relax?

I love listening to music and spending as much time as possible with my young family – obviously in one of our motorhomes if we can.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

With a young family and growing business, I don’t have much time for TV but I’m currently following the upsetting images of the war in Ukraine, as I suspect many are.

What do you waste your money on?

Naturally, I love travelling so that’s probably where most of my savings go.

My favourite destination in Scotland is Cairngorms National Park but if I could treat myself, I would travel to Menorca, in Spain, where there is perhaps a little bit more guaranteed sunshine.

And, of course, this would be a road trip adventure in our newest motorhome, Filip.

How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d describe me as hard working, loyal and sometimes stubborn, which isn’t a bad thing.

What would your enemies say about you?

I would like to think I don’t have any but if I do, I would rather not know what they are saying. If they are an enemy, their opinion has no bearing on me, my family or my business.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

Our family car is a 10-year-old Land Rover Freelander 2 – a lovely machine but due for updating soon. I suspect our next car will be electric.

I liked the driving qualities of a Skoda Enyaq but Kirstin has her eyes set on a Jaguar F-Pace. Perhaps you will see us with both next year if our motorhome business continues to be a success.

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