Turning 96 recently has earned Reginald Huntley the title of the UK’s oldest salesman and the proactive pensioner shows no signs of taking his foot off the pedal.
Reginald Huntley could be the oldest salesman in the UK.
Most people plan to retire by the age of 65, with working life a distant memory at 80. But Reg (as he prefers to be called), is still going strong more than a decade and a half later, working as farm sales ambassador at Kent Wool Growers. Still taking on a full week, Reg remains hungry for a sale, competing with the younger salesman to make sure he hits his targets.
Five days each week, the granddad of two gets up at 6am, working nine to five and he believes he would not be alive today if it was not for his work ethic and varied career.
He says: “I hate the thought of sitting at home because people deteriorate. It is like having a car; if you leave it in the garage and you don’t use it, then there is a problem. The body is, I think, the same.
“It takes me a month to get around to every customer. They get excited when they see me because they know I give them the best value going.”
The ex-army officer has been working in the farming community for 67 years and joined Kent Wool Growers (KWG) two years ago when he was 93.
Married to Patricia, Reg drives 250 miles a week looking after 300 KWG customers across east Kent, supplying a range of medical and agricultural supplies.
Ken’s story struck a chord with the press, lifestyle websites and radio stations when KWG held a party to celebrate him turning 96 in December, and he wassoon inundated with interview requests, even appearing on the BBC’s The One Show to talk about his working achievements.
Despite his numerous media appearances, Reg remains unassuming. “I don’t really know what all the fuss has been about.
“The key to being a good rep isn’t complicated - just be truthful, reliable, know your products, sell the benefits and your customers will stay with you.”
Father of David and Alison, he puts his long, active life down to a combination of factors - including his weekly, 90-minute sessions at the gym, something he has been doing for the past 50 years.
“Good nutrition is a must, as is eating meat - preferably Sussex beef - with two veg. Plenty of regular exercise; keeping the brain active by continuing work and eight hours sleep a night.
“If I stopped working and exercising, I would just stop.”
Reg has farming in his blood and was born and raised in Harrietsham, Kent. His grandparents were farmers and butchers and he remembers buying cattle in Headcorn and walking them the six miles home, stopping overnight in a field halfway.
“I remember well the advice of my father. His philosophy was if we didn’t work, we didn’t eat and I hold these values today.”
After a seven-year stint in the army, Reg took up his first job in 1947, aged 29, working for Dalcinex Chemicals. He then moved to Cooper McDougall and Robertson as a salesman covering Kent, Sussex and Surrey, selling the world famous Cooper’s Sheep Dip.
Here he became area manager for the South, as far as Cornwall, managing a team of eight sales reps.
In 1956, still selling sheep dip, he had his first encounter with Kent Wool Growers, selling to its customers in the Chichester area and helping break the stronghold Boots The Chemist had on supplying farmers with medical products.
In 1969, Reg set up his own company, R.K. Huntley Vet Pharmaceuticals, selling medical and agricultural products, which he ran for more than 40 years.
In 2012, at the age of 93, Reg decided he would join forces with KWG and become a sales ambassador.
He says: “I still get a real buzz out of getting a sale and I enjoy the countryside, fresh air, animals and working within the community.”
During his 67 years serving the industry, Reg says farming has changed beyond recognition, as farmland has gradually been eaten up.
“I see farming today being driven by a world market which has led to reduced numbers of small farms and the creation of a small number of much larger farms.
“I honestly believe farmers are the hardest workers in the country, getting the least praise.”
Reg, who lives in Stelling Minnis was a keen golfer for 35 years, but a knee problem forced early retirement from the game.
Now he regularly spends time with his grandchildren and enjoys the countryside, fresh air, animals and working.