‘Our Ian’ – Ian Jamieson Part 2 – Joyce Todd
- In April 1980 Ian Jamieson formed Scando Games with Norwegian Rohr Knudsen from Scandomatic. The company was based in Bridlington and run by Ian and it was so successful that soon Scando picked up lines from other manufacturers in Europe who were looking for a UK distributor. The most successful of these, at the time, was Model Racing of Italy.
However, it was not all milk and honey at Scando, and Ian remembers the time he got well and truly ripped off with one deal, and not one that was small scale but one of huge financial proportions.
A deal was struck with a company in the east end of London, they ordered 10 video cabinets and games then another 80 to be paid for on collection, and Ian was invited down to London to get the deposit from them. But in the end, the deposit was never mentioned they gave him a post dated bankers draft for one week later for the whole amount.
On his return to Bridlington Ian checked with the company bank that the bankers draft was OK and they said it was and they would keep the draft to the following week. The equipment left Bridlington in a massive lorry and the following day Ian rang the customer to see if all was fine and he was assured it was so he felt very pleased with himself and he even patted himself and his staff on the back and gave the staff a bonus for all their hard work with the order.
A call came from the bank a couple or so days later asking him to go in and see them where upon his arrival he was informed that the bank draft was a fraud and could not be accepted. Jumping in his car he sped off to the company in London only to find a large empty warehouse with no signs of any machines or company either, spending days in London and even employing a private detective to try and track them down there was no trace of them to be found anywhere. It turned out that this was a regular trick from this ‘con company’ and needless to say the bank absolved itself from any responsibility.
Model Racing had become part owners of Scando Games and they were issued with an Anton Piller order by Atari Games, due to some financial and copyright irregularities with Model Racing. Unfortunately, this ended up on the doors of Scando being closed in December 1982.
For a very short time Ian worked for Eurodeco, assisting the sales of Data East DECO video cassette system, Eurodeco was a short term venture between London Coin, Rohr Knudsen and Data East headed by Jim Jervis again based in Bridlington.
Rohr Knudsen once again became the saviour and in 1983, Euromax was formed between Rohr and Jim Jervis and Ian was taken on board as Sales Manager, this was a career move that lasted 17 years. Initially, the company manufactured the Norwegian MAXI machine and created the revolutionary Flexicab, which claimed to be the first multi game video cabinet. The video industry was experiencing difficult times following the enormous success of Space Invaders and Scramble, and it made it hard for the new Bridlington based company to achieve success despite travelling the length and breadth of the UK and Southern Ireland.
During this time Jim Jervis got involved in design, manufacturing and importation of joysticks and numerous other accessories for the home video market thus leaving Ian to run the amusement side. They achieved great success in supplying video game boards despite the fact that other companies were selling these too. Euromax had excellent sources of original legitimate boards throughout Europe and the Far East despite the fact that original licensed boards were more expensive they were also reliable and could be sold to major national operators and cabinet manufacturers.
The video industry tightened up on board sales and international companies developed bespoke game cabinets with second-hand equipment flowing out of the UK of which Euromax had its fair share – exporting full containers of video games, pool tables and other cheap equipment to Russia and Eastern Europe, but alas sales started to dwindle in the mid 90’s.
Whilst exhibiting at Olympia in 1993 Euromax was observed by a small unknown Australian company called Microsystem Controls who had developed a new electronic multicoin coin validator, and following their mailshot Ian contacted them and they sent John Taylor to the UK to establish a European distribution network and against all odds Euromax were chosen as the UK distributor, leading to great success for both companies.
After attending a Polish gaming show, Euromax’s Steve Boushakra convinced Jim Jervis there was a huge market in Europe for second-hand Las Vegas slot machines. The first containers were ok but gradually the quality got worse and in the end they were of no use at all. But it was also at this same show that Steve met Derek Lynch who was at that time heavily involved with Bill and Rose Harris of American based Royal Bell, and Steve had invited Derek if he was ever in the Bridlington area to call in.
One day he did just this and he stayed for three years in which time he achieved huge success for Euromax with Microcoin’s mechs. In 1997 Derek left to take up employment with Aristocrat of Australia.
In the late 1990’s Euromax’s computer peripheral section focused on creating a Millennium Bug Fix kit, this ate deeply financially, far more than expected and of course this event they were preparing for never occurred. Finally, due to being overstretched financially they had to close the doors in January 2000 and Ian was unemployed.
Ian kept in touch with Derek who was living in Bushey and who was now employed by Franco Gaming UK, and he told him the saga, and that he was going to the London show at Earls Court. A few phone calls later Ian found himself travelling to Derek’s to discuss ‘an idea.’ The idea was to set up a new company in Bridlington owned by Derek and his wife Maggie, providing the Microcoin distribution could be secured and that the services of Rob Bailey an ex employee of Euromax could also be secured, as he was a key factor with his electronic skills and knowledge to develop control systems.
Ian and Derek approached Microsystems at ATEI, they having been sold to Hong Kong based Astrosys International which was represented in the UK by Astrosystems. The timing could not have been better as the UK company had no expertise in the coin validator sector and Microcoin had only ever been sold in the UK by Euromax and John Taylor.
After meeting the criteria of Astrosys’s board, Ian and Derek felt sure it was full steam ahead for the formation of a new company, Rob Bailey joined them and February 2000 saw the birth of Radical Shock Ltd (RSL Ltd).
Derek negotiated with the administrator of Euromax about proprietary rights for the software previously created by Rob Bailey, which would help launch RSL into their manufacturing of printed circuit boards. With successful negotiations RSL bought some close-down stock at the sale of Euromax. RSL were soon up and running in a flat that belonged to Derek, and they found themselves working all hours possible to meet the incessant demand for Microcoin and control boards.
Quickly space became cramped and they had to move to larger premises, and ironically from these new offices Ian had a view of his late father’s factory. By 2001 they employed 5 staff and once again space became an issue. By this time Franco Gaming had sold to Derek, and he’d always wanted to create and build his own slot machine and he decided Bridlington was the place to do it, so two small units were acquired: one to house Franco Gaming (later to be known as Carnaby Gaming Machines) and the other to house RSL. Shortly after this move a much larger complete all-in-one unit became available, so they moved into it and housed both companies under one roof, where they still are today.
On 9th November 2001 a date remembered worldwide as 9/11, Ian received a phone call from a Jed Forman in New York enquiring about battery-operated pool table kits. Ian said he would call him back as he had an appointment to keep, and on his return to the office they were all talking about the terrible event that had happened in New York.
Ian tried to call Jed right away but he had no luck, but fortunately he had taken a note of Jed’s email so he managed to contact him this way and find out he was ok, and this led to a wonderful relationship. Derek was visiting G2E in Las Vegas and Ian asked him if he would mind dropping in on Jed in New York, so despite 9/11 off he went, equipped with a briefcase that when opened displayed an array of batteries, flashing displays and wiring, just how he got it through customs is still a mystery, but he did not only once but 4 or 5 times during his stay in the USA!
Jed liked the kits so much he wanted the opportunity of acting as exclusive distributor in the USA and Canada for a trial period, this was agreed and sales were soon rushing in, he is still their official distributor albeit purchases are done via Medalist Corp, Seattle.
2008 saw the amusement industry fall into a decline and unfortunately for RSL, Rob Bailey decided to go it alone, and after 25 years of working together Ian and Rob had a very amicable and mutual parting.
Then in September 2010 Ian announced his decision to retire at 65. He had told Derek and Maggie for years that this was what he planned, but they had never quite believed him! Ian gave them plenty of time to find a replacement and in February 2011, Keith Gibbeson joined RSL as Business Development Manager, followed shortly by Mike Anderson in May 2011 acting as Group General Manager, and Ian finally retired in July 2011.
Ian says that without the support of his loyal wife Jenny and friends and colleagues in the industry, life would not have been the same, and despite the fact that he’s experienced many ups and downs he’s still enjoyed his working life. He’ll always be thankful to his late dear father Arthur Jamieson for his initial schooling in the industry, he taught him so much. Ian hopes now his retirement will be just as fulfilling and enjoyable as his working life has been, minus the ups and downs of course!! Both Ian and Jenny now look forward to spending more time with their four children’s families including 8 grandchildren and who knows maybe even great grandchildren.
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