Establishing Automatic Machine Services Ltd as a leading independent family-run Gaming and Amusement Machine supply company has been an eventful journey through three generations. Here is a glimpse of the story so far…
“Automatic Services” (as it was then called) was established by James Frank Jarrett in 1960 who supplied “one-arm bandits” to Social Clubs, Pubs and Cafes. A friendly, dedicated individual grew the business with the help of his wife, Edith Mary into a successful new venture. Previously Frank (as he liked to be known) was a car mechanic, which assisted in the understanding of the mechanical parts that made up the workings of these popular machines at this time. Working from his garage in Chipstead, near Sevenoaks in Kent, he soon became well known by many publicans, club secretaries and café owners in the area for his dedicated attitude and attention to detail. He took to his new venture with a sound vision of providing an impeccable personal service to all customers with the very best machines he could source. He was soon increasing his customer numbers through recommendations so it wasn’t long before he needed assistance from another pair of hands to ensure all customers received the high levels of service that he insisted upon.
Roger, Frank and Edith’s only child, was keen to join his father’s growing company, so in 1964 he left school at fifteen years of age and following his Dad’s instructions, went to a larger established company in London, J.C.W. Automatics as an apprentice, to gain the necessary knowledge to then work alongside his father in 1966. As soon as they worked together, Frank & Roger grew the company further and ensured that friendly and professional relationships with all their customers was the back bone of the business. Many new ideas were actioned throughout this period and the range of products supplied to customers was increased to keep up with the developing industry. To keep with the trend of the time, a notable name change took place at Roger’s request and the company was now known as “Automatic Machine Services”.
Frank then began suffering with his health and during a particularly long period he was confined to his bed. This meant Roger had to work long hours to keep on top of the ever increasing work load. During this tough time, if he had complicated repair to under-take, he would bring the “workings” of a faulty machine to his father’s bedside and carry out the repair following Frank’s expert instructions. Frank then passed away in 1971 at the age of sixty. After this very sad event, Roger was inspired to continue pursuing the company’s growth and worked with a determination to make “Automatic Machine Services” a continued success.
In May 1973, Roger took on his first employee and in October 1977 moved the company from its inception to his garage at home in Sevenoaks, Kent. Only five years later in March 1982, Roger decided to move the company to a larger shop unit in West Wickham, Kent, as more space was urgently required for the increasing amount of machines, spares and equipment needed on a daily basis. This important re-location ensured the workshop was centrally located and the company now had a more visible presence with its showroom, which encouraged new custom from around the area
In 1984, Roger took the opportunity to increase the business by way of an acquisition of a local supply company called “Ace Operators”. This resulted in over-night growth of an abundance of quality accounts within a small area and established the company as a leading supplier.
Following this growth, additional staff including Roger’s wife, Christine joined Automatic Machine Services in October 1985, taking on the roles of account administration and collector duties. Experienced engineers were also recruited to enhance response times to service calls and to maintain productive practices.
In June 1992, Rogers’s eldest son, Jason, also joined the company at the age of 16. Soon after his arrival the business growth gathered momentum as fresh ideas and his dedication to improve the company resulted in business gains and further staff requirements. It wasn’t long before the business had once again out-grown its location and now needed even more space together with dedicated offices.
After a search for a suitable location, a move to a brand new purpose designed business unit incorporating offices, workshop and showroom area in Westerham, Kent, took place in July 1997. This new location meant that all aspects of the company were improved and the functionality of all departments became more streamlined and productive.
In July 2001, Roger & Jason struck a deal to purchase W&M Automatics who were based in South-London. Once again a number of customers were added to the company’s portfolio very quickly, however, following the investment of quality equipment and improved services, even more business was obtained as the company’s reputation grew.
In April 2003, the business was registered with Companies House and became a limited company so it would now be known as “Automatic Machine Service Ltd”.
In November 2004, Automatic Machine Services Ltd purchased north Kent based supplier, Bexley Automatics. This resulted in large additional number of new customers within a tight operational area and gave the business the recognition and presence of one of the most successful and driven companies in the South-East.
Staffing levels were again required to be increased, and in February 2005, Garry, Roger’s youngest son, joined the company to work in the workshop and with the van teams to carry out equipment maintenance, preparations, installations and movements. Following a period of time he moved onto become a cash collector for customers in the South-East of London and North Kent areas.
In August 2008, Jason negotiated a further business acquisition of Charus Automatics which meant a notable increase to customer numbers and equipment on site. Staff from “Charus Automatics” were also integrated into the company in a seamless transition. This deal notably recognised Automatic Machine Service Ltd as the leading independent gaming and amusement machines supplier to the licensed trade in the South-East.
In August 2010, the company celebrated its 50th birthday and to mark the occasion had a specially designed plaque to commemorate this milestone. This is proudly displayed in the reception area of the company offices. Additionally a second logo was also commissioned to proudly advertise this achievement on all marketing items.
In September 2012, Garry sadly lost his life following a horrific car crash. This loss left a huge hole in both the family and the company, however both were determined to continue forward. Additional staff were recruited to complete the work that Garry was previously responsible for and in other areas of the business to allow for further growth.The company now boasts fully trained staff in all areas of the business such as accounts, sales, collections, workshop & installations, technical services and pool table services.
Pictured from left to right, Roger, Jason, Garry & Christine
In March 2016, Automatic Machine Services Limited signed a deal for the acquisition of Lakerose Leisure Limited who were based in Peacehaven, near Brighton. This meant the company now had a second depot which meant it could align all working practices to utilise this new facility to maximise equipment movements and service response times. The combination of this sizable growth and the continued services of the experienced staff acquired in the deal, will allow the future evolution of the company to continue its stance as arguably the largest independent family run gaming & amusement machine supplier in the South-East.
Shortly after the integration of the Lakerose Leisure business, the search for bigger premises commenced to allow the recruitment of additional office staff and additional equipment preparation facilities to once again streamline practices.
In April 2017, AMS moved into its new home in Kemsing in Kent. The premises benefitted from a full refurbishment to offer the company a purpose-built show-room with media wall, spacious open plan offices, boardroom, ample parking, a stores room with dedicated racking and a workshop designed specifically for the preparation of all of our main stream products, such as Gaming Machines, Pool Tables, Jukeboxes and Digital Products plus lots of storage area for stock equipment.
Additional staff were recruited soon after and now the company operates all of its machine movements from the Kemsing depot with the Peacehaven depot working as a valuable additional service depot to ensure all customers continue to experience a quick and effective repair service seven days a week.
Automatic Machine Services Ltd is now an established and respected company within the industry and one that is structured to adapt quickly to a wide range of customer requirements. All the directors and staff continue to ensure that the development of new ideas, enthusiasm about new products and the highest levels of customer service, are maintained so that as a company, Automatic Machine Services Ltd offers all customers, big and small, the very best equipment, competitive terms and excellent level’s of service that were paramount when the late Frank Jarrett, started the company back in 1960.