Charles Morgan of Morgan Motors: My salary is now zero

You Live And You Learn: Charles Morgan, co-owner of Morgan Motor Company, on being ousted from the board and the challenges of working in a family firm.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 19 Jun 2014

I was ousted from the board last October after disagreements over the family trust. Until that point, I was earning £140,000 a year as strategy director. Now my salary is zero. With a family to support that's very tough.

Everyone remembers my father and me on BBC2's Troubleshooter in 1989. Sir John Harvey-Jones told us we'd go out of business if we didn't modernise production. That was a big shock but the show put us in the public eye - 11 million people saw it. We were turning over £3.5m then. Now sales are £40m.

Harvey-Jones berated us for having long waiting lists, but he was wrong. Everyone wants a waiting list now. My father used to say it's best to produce one less car than the market actually demands.

As a cameraman at ITN for 10 years, I was in Cambodia in 1979 when Pol Pot fled; I was in Ireland in 1981 when Bobby Sands died; I was in Beirut in 1982 when the Israelis invaded. It was a wonderful way to travel. The crew and I would always chat about cars - they regarded me as the unofficial expert.

I won the BRDC Production Sports Car Championship in 1978 in a Morgan Plus 8. I don't compete any more but I still have an international racing licence. I blame my lunatic driving style on my father, who gave me a souped-up garden tractor when I was 12.

My wife, Kiera, is my rock. We got married, on a whim, in City Hall at Brooklyn Bridge on Christmas Eve 2003, among all the drunks and revellers. It was the height of anti-romance.

I'm immensely proud of my five children. My oldest, Xan, 28, is a founding member of a waste water treatment company, Bluewater Bio. He's very creative and driven - I like to think he takes after me. My youngest, Eva Rose, is seven. She's a wonderful ballet dancer. So less like me.

The challenge of working in a family firm is that you will never be appreciated. You'll always just be the 'little brother'. Even if other family members don't work in the business, they will always have a sense of entitlement. When the company does well, greed rears its ugly head.

I have more than 8,000 followers on Twitter. In my darkest hours, the messages of support really lifted me. My goal is to take control of Morgan Motor Company again. That's where I belong.

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