The History of the Park Avenue Open Day by UDC’s Derek Horwood

10/06/2012

“The idea was mooted among the many coin machine companies who had become to be located in Park Avenue, at an informal meeting in the early 1990’s, that doors should be opened and invitations sent out to customers to come and visit to see – in a hassle free atmosphere – the latest arrivals in innovative coin machine games available.

Park Avenue was, by 1990, home to many companies in the coin-operated machine business and the street became to be known as “Coin Machine Alley” from this preponderance of coin machine companies in Park Avenue and the adjacent street.

The United Distributing Company had relocated to Park Avenue in 1986 , and it was UDC together with Electrocoin who first started the Park Avenue Open House Day in the early 90’s.

The idea was not expressly to have a social event but was really a marketing exercise to try to get visitors down to London to order equipment and write business, as June was a calm part of the year. It was only later when customers treated the visit as a fun day out, and came down to Park Avenue to meet and greet their pals, although that was not the original intention of the Open Day. It was only later that the social aspect grew.

The companies that occupied the street were many and varied. Park Avenue is the adjacent street to where Brent Walker Ltd. was located at that time in Brent Crescent, headed by MD David Coren with Michael Green as Sales Director.

Brent Walker Ltd. was the biggest player in the street and that company later evolved into Brent Leisure Ltd and now situated in Acton W3. After UDC had moved in to Park Avenue in ‘86, John Stergides MD of Electrocoin Automatics Ltd. was looking for alternative premises to the ones he occupied at that time in Tottenham Court Rd WC1, and he moved in to the adjacent building to UDC some months later.

He was quickly followed into Park Avenue by Dave Sines, who had just started his Associated Parts sales business, later developed into Suzo. Brian Gauci of Funomatics Ltd. had already formed an association with Albert Truelove distributing jukeboxes , and Brian had relocated from Harlesden to Park Avenue similarly.

Bob Deith who had bought Music Hire’s distribution business also relocated that company from and address in Greenford to Park Avenue, and later absorbed it into his Deith Leisure Ltd company and moved that branch of his company to offices in Park Avenue.

Gary Newman had his sales company and Raj Patel had his RM Sales Co in the Avenue and  Jaleco headed by Norman Leftly was in Brent Crescent .

There was bunting in the street strung from the lampposts, a jazz band was playing in one year, and gradually the “fun” side of the day eclipsed the business angle, which was the original idea of the festivities.

The actual point is that the Open Day was a means of getting customers to order equipment, and the free drinks and food etc was part and parcel of the day, that part overtook the business part although that was not the original idea!

 

Comments (2)

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Great memories from a great man of the British Coin Machine Industry. Derek, how many coin machine companies are left in your area, in the 1960′s through the 1980′s it was similar on Tenth Avenue in New York City, there was Seeburg Atlantic, Mike Munves, (The American equivelent to Chicago Automatic Supply in the U.K.) Al Simon, Runyon Sales Company and several more, now they have all gone, in fact none of them are still in business, Runyon was bought by Betson Enterprises in the late 1960′s, the operating end of Runyon changed their name to C.I.C and was recently broken up and sold to three operating companies, Capitalcityvending out of Trenton New Jersey, Wayne Vending out of Wayne, New Jersey and Petron Amusements out of Orange, New Jersey. The latter being in the business since the 1940′s, it was infact started my Mickey Wichinsky’s Sister Pauline who’s son Bobby anong with his son Robert Petron Jr still run it.

Hope you have a great “Street Party” and say hello to all of my old friends in the business over their, I miss you all.

Freddy Bailey

Freddy Bailey
U.S.A
13/06/2012, 11:42

Mr Horwood’s recollections of the Open Day bought to mind an event celebrated by the senior managers of well known video games manufacturers; also in the early nineties. Called Pearl Harbour Night, it lasted a few years. There were many terrible acts of behaviour; too numerous to mention. The most notable being Dave Sines being set on fire in a restaurant. One member of the party then tried to put out the fire, by pouring brandy on him.

Another famous institution was the Wednesday Dining club. An informal arrangement, probably stated by John Stergides and UDC. One could be in Tokyo, LA or somewhere in Europe at a trade show; and you would hear, see you at the Wednesday dinner at Park Avenue. It was really quite an influential institution. Many deals wre hatched at these dinners. Also many aspiring sales people would try and attend to peddle their wears. The adhoc arrange of Wednesday might dinners lasted about 15 years. Konkani would host the open day dinner at Anne Marie’s in the mid 90s. 30 people was not am uncommon number. Most famous Wednesday night dinner; probably the Guinea in 1989. A very expensive night.

Steve B
Genesis Games Ltd
13/06/2012, 15:58

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