Martin Sanders: general manager, Honda Power Equipment

Planes and boats and lawns

Mixing business with pleasure doesn't succeed all that often, but Martin Sanders seems to have struck the right balance between the two. A lifelong passion for boating (and water-skiing) have been put to good use in his position as Honda's general manager in charge of its £50m Power Equipment division in the UK. And he's the man behind the world's largest off-shore powerboat championship.

Four years ago, his department formulated the idea of a one-design powerboat series to showcase Honda's 4-stroke marine engines. There are two types - the 225hp, for serious racers, and the 130hp for all-comers.

Sanders says it was his chartered accountancy qualification that set him on the right track. He made the decision to move into business shortly after qualifying with Deloitte Haskins & Sells (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). Since then, he's covered almost every form of transport other than trains. 'I always took the view that my qualification would stand me in great stead for business,' he says. 'And I'd already decided to work in business rather than in practice.'

He moved to internal audit at British Airways, then moved across toVolvo, becoming managing director of its finance company by 1991. Two years later, he became Volvo's UK regional operations manager. Then he joined Honda as head of sales in 1994, became head of marketing, and arrived at his current position in January 2000.

Honda is the world's largest engine manufacturer, churning out 12m a year. 'I've always had an interest in cars,' Sanders says. 'I'm not an engineer - I couldn't take a car apart and put it back together. But I certainly have an interest in how they work.'

Sanders is 'totally profit and loss and balance sheet responsible' for the division, and he also oversees the production of generators, water pumps, all-terrain vehicles, marine engines and lawn and garden products within the division.

He's hoping to race the powerboats along the Thames from Putney Bridge to Ramsgate just after the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June. 'It will be a phenomenal sight,' he says. 'We're trying to get Mayor Livingstone to support us as part of his integrated transport scheme. Then we're off to my homeland Wales, then Scotland, Northern Ireland and finally Cowes for more.'

Power-boating might be off-season, but there's no fear that the grass will grow under Sanders' feet. He's currently gearing his team up for the lawn and garden season - and extra lawnmower sales. His eye is fixed firmly on grass growth - and apparently it's three weeks ahead of itself this year. 'We love our lawns in the UK and we do love our stripes - and that's why we have to make lawnmowers with rear rollers,' he chuckles.

Correction. Future Film Group would like to clarify that it has no connection with the TV series Band of Brothers (see People, February, p 19).

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