At the time I was working at my father in laws confectionery business and my work partner was spending more money than the business was making. It didn’t take long to see that this was not sustainable in the long term, so I needed to find a business idea that would suit by knowledge and skillset. My friend Ray worked for an electrical wholesaler and he said that the customers were not completely happy with the service that they were receiving and had been asking Ray to think about starting up his own electrical wholesale business. Ray discussed this with me, but said that he felt that he wasn’t the business type person to make the business a success,however he truly thought that I would be able to make it work. So with a plan of action set and with my past as a qualified electrician I set out with a vision that has stayed with me to this day.
I had to borrow £250 from the bank and also brought the father in laws van which he agreed to allow me to pay him back 10 Bob ( 50 Pence ) per week. Ray joined the company shortly after I started it, but didn’t make an initial investment. It wasn’t until we needed to grow the company that he sold a car which helped us to purchase another van and move into larger premises.
The Council as they put lots of restrictions in place and were not willing to budge. For example they kept rejection planning applications for premises that we wanted to expand into.
Another big obstacle was when we put a new floor into one of our premises which we completed ourselves without any external help or subcontractors.
Money was also an issue due to almost customers being on account and not paying us until 60 days later.
Because I was an ex electrician, I knew what I was talking about and gave free advice and guidance to our customers. We didn’t need sales reps as my knowledge and service meant that we had alot of referrals.
That’s simple…. I treated every customer the same way that I wanted to be treated myself. I also made sure that all staff worked with me instead of for me. After all there is no business without customers.
I was trained in the army as a problem solver. As a 1st class electrician. So I was a natural problem solver and used my own judgement.
Ray Left in 1980, so I had to become more organised so I split the company into four different departments. With a head of each and they reported to me. So I trusted my colleagues to take on more responsibility as it was too much for any one person to manage.
Nothing! I achieved what I set out to achieve. I have no regrets.
I thought that we would have a branch in Lewisham and Crayford would be the head office. Had the future vision of opening a Maidstone branch which would become the head office.
It was harder to give up work than passing the company onto Bob. So I opened up a Norfolk branch which was later taken over by the ex employee and is still going strong now. There was one occasion that I remember Bob making an inexpensive error which I let him make as I wanted him to learn from his mistakes.
I think that I would advise about the different types of pressures that will occur and how I dealt with them. Always try to look forward and make sure that you keep ahead of what’s coming and make pro-active adjustments as necessary.
I am very proud of the company as it is today. “At the beginning, if you had of told me that it would have ended up like this then I would never have believed it.“