Entrepreneur Oliver North founded fire truck manufacturer Rosenbauer UK in 2008 and has seen ten years of consecutive growth. BQ caught up with him to find out just how he did it.
Originally founded as North Fire on 1st September 2008, the firm began as a helmet supplier, rapidly expanding year-on-year to become the UK’s market leader in firefighting equipment.
The organisation is now on track to achieve a staggering £18.9m turnover in 2018 – a record increase of 255% on the previous 12 months.
The firm saw success right from the off, hitting a turnover of £1.2m by selling helmets alone.
By 2010, Oliver secured a distribution agreement with Rosenbauer International to supply its aerial fire trucks.
The deal was shortly followed by another exclusive agreement with e2v, to supply the market with thermal imaging cameras, selling £2m worth of products within the first year.
Oliver explained: “I was working as a salesperson in the fire market when I started to question the standard of customer service.
“The only way I could personally deliver satisfaction, the way I wanted it, was to set up my own company.
“Although I was a little wet behind the ears, I went for it. I had no investment, but a sound strategy based on quality of service, ethics and hard work.”
This approach certainly paid off as the firm won the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Business of the Year’ in 2011, and caught the attention of Ken Davy, who took a 33% share in North Fire and became chairman.
Oliver continued: “He became somewhat of a mentor on the numbers – we’d spend hours going through P&L statements and driving the business forward financially.
“I quickly learnt that strategy and sales – based on an exceptional financial footing – are three equally essential components.”
In 2014 the firm merged with Rosenbauer International, becoming Rosenbauer UK, with the aim of becoming the market leader in the supply and service of all trucks and equipment in municipal and aviation firefighting.
Rosenbauer UK’s longest serving employee, Rory Wilde, who has worked for the company since it was just two months old.
He commented: “Every single member of staff at Rosenbauer UK loves working for Oliver – he genuinely works just as hard as anybody else, and values each person around him.
“He’s very well respected, and brings everyone together, which is why I think we work so well together as a team.”
Reflecting on his ten-year journey to date, Oliver concluded: “It’s been an honour leading and driving Rosenbauer UK’s growth to the £20m turnover company that it now is.
“In terms of what’s next, I don’t intend to take my foot off the gas – I have too much energy for that.
“I always want to push myself personally, so am looking forward to exploring new avenues whilst overseeing the consolidation of Rosenbauer UK.”
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