From an very early age Andy (the boss) was always fascinated by design and in particular, working out how things work. His love for lego as a young child started, what would in his later teenage years, become an obsession with "making design function".
Andy's first love affair with functional design all started on a family holiday, when aged 8, to Switzerland - inspired by the Swiss alpine architecture Andy decided that he wanted to be an architect. For Andy, buildings had the perfect mix of aesthetics and function, they had to look pleasing on the eye, yet they also had to work.
However, as Andy approached his teenage years he found another love, cars.
Andy says "I don't know where the passion for cars really came from, my other interests and passions in life where influenced by those around me - football, music. But my love for cars kind of grew organically. My dad has a interest, but he's not a petrol head. My uncles do love cars, but they weren't around enough to influence me and the guy who lived opposite raced Cosworths. I suppose when you put all of that together, without really noticing it, I was surrounded by cars my entire life.
"I do remember, when I was 12 my dad took me to the British motor show - he blagged our way onto the Lamborghini stand by saying he owned a Ferrari (he didn't) but fancied a change. We spent the next 30mins or so on the stand and whilst their sales reps tried to sell my dad a car that cost more than our house, I remember sitting in a purple Diablo with a white interior. Just sitting in the car was exciting enough and I couldn't believe that something so outrageous actually functioned in the real world - it was like sitting in the Millennium Falcon, not a car.
"I think it was from that point on that cars became an obsession of mine, I made my dad take me to the motor show every year after that".
Andy's love for everything automotive continued to grow throughout his teenage years, as did his passion for functional design and by the time he was 16 he had set his sights on becoming a car designer.
After leaving school, with this dream in mind, Andy completed a national diploma in art and design at Newcastle-under-Lyme college, gaining a distinction. And, it was whilst at college that Andy passed his driving test and bought his first car, a 1996 Rover Mini Equinox.
Andy soon became a regular at Stoke-on-Trent's Festival Park, the local 'boy racer' hang out and it was "up fez" that Andy fell in love yet again, this time with modded cars. As, he discovered that by modifying his own Mini, he could practice his passion for functional design in the real world.
Andy's modified Classic Mini in 2004
Buoyed by his new found enthusiasm for modified cars, in September 2004 Andy left home for Coventry University's famous Automotive Design course. And, it was actually the summer of 2005, when Andy was home from University after his first year, that the Optimise Automotive journey began….
Having the necessary skills required to modify his own Classic Mini Andy would often make and modify new interior items for himself, he would also always be sure to upload photos onto the theminiforum.co.uk, where he has been a member since April 2004. After posting photos on the forum of a new boot lining kit that he had made, a fellow TMF member said "that looks great, can you make me one?" to which Andy kindly obliged. Over the next few weeks Andy sold a hand full of boot lining kits to other TMF members and that got him thinking...
"If a few on TMF want one, I wonder if others will?"
Within a week Andy had started selling a small range of Classic Mini interior styling accessories on eBay. This 'part-time' enterprise soon became known as Equinox Styling (named after Andy's Mini Equinox) and by June 2006 (when Andy was home after his second year at University) the company had developed further, with the introduction of a website and more new products.
After graduating from the famous Coventry University Automotive Design Course in June 2008, Andy had to make arguably the most important decision of his life. And, was forced to choose between a career in the lucrative world of Automotive Design, or alternatively, he could choose to transform Equinox Styling (his summer business that he had successfully developed whilst at University) into a full-time business.
Although he knew that transforming Equinox Styling into a full-time business would be extremely difficult and that a career in car design would have been the easier short term option. Andy also believed in his ability to design & manufacture exciting, new, innovative products for the modification and restoration vehicle markets. He did however, also understand that choosing the latter would mean leaving behind his boyhood dream of designing the super cars of the future...
Andy Roberts' major university project - September 2007 to May 2008.
Thankfully for you (as customers), there was never really much of a decision to be made, as Andy always favoured the creative freedom that owning and running his own Automotive Customisation Business would allow. His commitment to the dream of ‘seeking perfection in enhancement’ was then set into stone on the 1st August 2008 with the foundation of Optimise Automotive.
Optimise Automotive continue to develop and grow. Working from an industrial unit in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, a skilled team of dedicated bench joiners, fabricators, upholsterers and sewing machinists create masterpieces of automotive interior magic every single day.
Now offering a full catalogue of audio enclosure products and Classic Mini interior trim products they are starting to look into new markets and over the coming years they plan to move into the Classic Ford, Classic MG and Classic VW markets.
Andy's passion for functional design is what makes Optimise Automotive stand out from the crowd and his enthusiasm for cars is reflected in everything that the company do - as a petrol head himself he ensures that each and every project is completed as if it was for his own car.