He could repair his car using YouTube videos, but that's pretty scary, says John Haynes.

Steering force: John Haynes has seen the price of the shares of the family business double in two years

When I leave Volvo by John Haynes at his base in Somerset, the man behind the famous car manuals that bear his name takes me by surprise. He pulls a cable out of the car and attaches it to the wall to charge it.

Surely John, known as J, has not become electric, has he? Is not the man whose manuals have gathered oily prints in the garages of generations of staunch petrolheads?

The smooth and relaxed CEO of the 58-year-old company reassures me. & # 39; It's a hybrid. It has the electric element, but it has a small gasoline engine in the front, "he insists.

Even so, the fact that John Haynes Junior, son of the founder, drives a hybrid car is a symbol of the change that the business has experienced.

Steering force: John Haynes has seen the price of the shares of the family business double in two years

Steering force: John Haynes has seen the price of the shares of the family business double in two years

In his two years as executive director, Haynes oversaw a change in the company's focus, moving away from traditional manuals that became a feature of every car glove compartment for a digital company with a strong focus on data. The reaction to the changing editorial landscape has helped to double the share price at that time.

The firm now has a technical data business called Haynes Pro that is used by professional clients. They include the repair centers that use the service to make sure they use the right parts to repair the cars, and they have enough in stock. Among its other products is a software that helps trucking companies to manage their programming and analyze their CO2 emissions.

Before taking over, the company cut jobs in response to a decrease in demand for Haynes' printed manuals. Now, for the first time in years, he is recruiting staff and expects the workforce to increase by 10 percent this year. It currently has around 200 employees in its offices in the United Kingdom, USA. UU., The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy and Romania.

Haynes also produces manuals and videos online that users can watch while they fix their car. But are not these the things you can find on YouTube?

Yes, it admits the 51-year-old, but many of them are not much use.

In one case, Haynes was asked to watch the YouTube videos that an automotive company had posted on its own website. "Actually, it was quite scary, the inaccuracies they showed, some of which were dangerous," he explains.

There are billions of cars that will need to be maintained for a very long time

& # 39; There is good information on YouTube. But it's often hard to find, you run the risk of it being inaccurate, and you do not have a team of experienced and knowledgeable people who take responsibility for what they're creating. "

The drive to get more electric cars on the road is also a threat to Haynes' traditional manual business. In the past, manuals could even allow an automotive ignorant to perform simple mechanical tasks, but you certainly would not try to fix an electric car yourself. "Do not go anywhere, the voltage is frightening," Haynes warns.

But electric cars still do not force him to break the company's business plan.

"Obviously we are watching them, but they were only 1.4 percent of all the vehicles sold last year, OK, it's a fast growth, but it's easy to grow quickly when you start from a low number."

He adds: "The average age of a car in the United Kingdom is about 8.7 years, in the United States it is 12. There are billions of cars that will be available for a long, long time and that should be kept in the future.

"So, yes, we are watching the electricity. But let's keep it in perspective, currently it's very small. "

Appeal to the novelty: the "user manual" of Haynes for a Star Wars spacecraft

Appeal to the novelty: the "user manual" of Haynes for a Star Wars spacecraft

Appeal to the novelty: the "user manual" of Haynes for a Star Wars spacecraft

He is more concerned about the role of the company in the future of the industry. Some experts predict that eventually we will all pay for a subscription to use different cars on a Boris bike system instead of having vehicles. And then there are cars without a driver.

& # 39; There will be a program in a few years where you can order a car just for the day, it appears at the door of your house and climbs on it, leaves during the day and when it arrives at your house, it returns to normal? The deposit? All these things are absolutely possibilities, but finally someone somewhere has to make sure they stay safe and stay safe, "he says.

However, not everything is prepared for the future. The company still manufactures innovative "user manuals," such as the Star Wars Millennium Falcon spacecraft. It also publishes the "Bluffer Guides," which are designed to impart "wit and instant wisdom" to readers on topics such as wine, cricket and even Brexit.

On that irritated topic, serious for the automotive industry, he says: "Everyone hates uncertainty. I have never worked in a car manufacturer, but I imagine that the complexity and level of decision-making that has to be made around the automobile plant and the supply chain must be colossal. It is completely understandable and we need to have some certainty. "

We are attentive to electricity, but keep your perspective, it is very small today

Haynes corporate headquarters in Sparkford, Somerset, still houses a workshop where the staff unpacks cars and reassembles them to create new manuals. As an apprentice graduate in the company after college in the United States, he even wrote his own manual for the Chevrolet Lumina.

His chief of operations, James Bunkum, who appears to say hello, says there are still people in the business in the United States who remember J, and the ponytail that he wore at that time.

Haynes went to enter corporate finance in the city for a while before completing an MBA in graduate business. He closed the circle and rejoined the company, which is still mostly owned by the family, in 2000, before becoming president in 2010 and then executive director in 2016.

His father John, who is now 80 years old, published his first manual in 1956 while still in school, in the construction of an Austin 7 Special. John senior still patrols Somerset's base as the staff man (his formal title is the founding director) and gives advice when necessary.

"Having that reasoned conversation with someone who has been there since the beginning and has seen everything is very useful," says Haynes Junior.

His father is a local celebrity. He eats in the cafeteria of the nearby Haynes International Motor Museum every day signing autographs for car enthusiasts. The museum, which is a charity that is separate from the aforementioned group, houses more than 400 antique cars and motorcycles.

Directed by Chris, J's brother, it is home to an impressive range of classic cars from around the world. His other brother Marc, who previously ran the museum, was also crazy about the engine. Sadly, he died in 2016 at the age of 48, after being born with a degenerative spinal disorder that confined him to a wheelchair from the age of five.

That did not stop Marc from getting behind the wheel and became the first paraplegic to obtain a career license from the RAC Motor Sports Association. The car with which he used to compete sits proudly in the museum.

J's brother, Chris, promises to take me back to the station. Its bright white, Bentley convertible is our mode of transportation. A future with electric cars without a driver certainly feels very far away as we drive through the countryside of Somerset.

The life and times of the family man in the driver's seat at Haynes

Years: 51

Family: Wife, Valencia, daughters Augusta and Freya.

Lives: In the Limpley Stoke Valley, just outside of Bath.

Drives: From Monday to Friday, a Volvo XC90 T8 and on sunny weekends a Citroen DS 21 Pallas 1970, pictured below.

A typical day: He says he does not have one. "On Monday, I was in Kent with the Haynes Pro team, yesterday I was in London, today I'm here in Somerset, next week I'm going to Holland, then on Saturday I'm flying to the US It's really not a typical day."

Hobbies: Swim, walk, ride a bike.

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