Geoff Platt is a freelance editor & journalist, specialising in dairy. This is a personal blog and views expressed are his own.

18 Apr 2013

Banking is not like it used to be

I was sad to read, in the Bucks Herald, of the recent death of dairyman Ron Miller.

Ron set up Ron Miller Dairies in Aylesbury in April 1961 and ran it until 1999, according to the report.

I remembered going to visit him to write an article for Milk Industry magazine about the dairy, when it celebrated its Silver Jubilee. I seemed to recall that he had an interesting banking story to tell about the time he set up his dairy business. So, I had a rummage around the files of articles I wrote for Milk Industry and sure enough, there it was.

These days, we hear a lot about banks and bank managers and not much of it is particularly positive. Apart from all the fallout about ‘bankers’ bonuses’ and criticism surrounding reckless business decisions and corrupt selling practices, businesses complain that, despite supposed pressure from government to alter their ways, banks are not great at giving credit, offering loans or extending overdrafts, making it difficult for many smaller businesses to start up, to operate and to grow.

Ron Miller had a different experience.

He told me that when he set up his business – buying a depot that Express Dairies wanted to close – he had not had a bank account before and he had certainly never visited the bank before. But he was offered a sizeable overdraft facility 15 minutes after meeting the manager for the first time.

It was only when the forms had been signed that the manager asked him, “By the way, what’s the money for?”