Meet the MD: James Taylor of JR Group UK

Meet the MD: James Taylor of JR Group UK

After starting out sweeping the floors just two days after leaving school, James Taylor is now the MD of his 4th generation family business. He talked to BQ about his journey so far and where he intends to go from here...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

As multi-tasking, ball juggling 4th generation family business MD/owner, my role consists of overseeing our business activities across all aspects of the business. This includes the manufacture and supply of our textile fibres, fillings and recycled wastes, carpet underlay, insulation and special effects non-wovens. Sales happen both at home and abroad, with regular overseas selling across Far East, Africa & Middle East for our textiles companies.


What is it the company does?

Based in West Yorkshire, JR Group UK has been manufacturing, recycling and trading in textiles for over 160 years.

Our family businesses in the JR Group UK operate across numerous sites and are primarily involved in the manufacture and supply of textile fibres for both business and commercial purposes. From fillings and recycled wastes, to carpet underlay, insulation and special effects non-wovens, we are experts in the production of fibres for a number of uses. The business also expands to both commercial, industrial and residential property development and restoration, specialist flooring and accessories e-commerce, as well as the supply of artificial grass surfaces to the UK landscape gardening industry.

From our beginnings in Huddersfield as small and humble manufacturers, being traditional dyers and finishers of the world's finest cloth, JR Group UK has continued to grow from strength to strength. Now manufacturing the world's finest carpet underlay and exporting textile fibres on a global scale, JR Group UK has developed with innovation and diversification, always being at the forefront of the industry.

It is our pragmatism, ambition and our understanding of our global customers' needs that has established JR Group UK as a name synonymous with world-class Great British quality products.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Great leaders have an acute ability to motivate, encourage and inspire people to be the best and to always strive to perform at their optimum level for the company. Creating a fun and positive working culture with synergy at all levels and across all divisions, always trying to reward people with competitive earnings, perks and benefits is essential.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Easily, it has to be working with my father. I have the upmost respect for him, but given our close relationship working with him is also my biggest challenge. When we are in the office together, I work hard at managing our differences of opinion about how the business is run and what the future may hold.  This is not necessarily negative. I have learnt a lot from him because of this challenge. He has taught me that listening, considering and constructively challenging ideas and decisions are far more productive than digging your heels in!


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

A very healthy diet and regular visits to the gym usual helps. My wife, Rachel, is very supportive and always sends me to work with protein packed salads for lunch to keep me well-fueled throughout the day. In my spare time, whenever I get chance, I try and swim because there is no better stress relief than exercise. 


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

That’s easy. For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to run the family firm. As a young boy I used to go down to our old mill at Brockholes and help my Pampy (Grandad) sweep the floors, feed the cats and go out in the lorry doing deliveries … anything I could get my hands on! Even in my free time I’d go fishing in the mill dam, I loved spending time there. I’ve always looked up to the older generations in my family and wanted to follow in their footsteps. I guess you could say the family business was fused in my DNA very early on in life!


Any pet hates in the workplace?

Not so much a pet hate but more a mild frustration – I am an early riser, and it’s normal for me to be in the office by 7.30am. When I occasionally see other Managers and Directors rocking up a bit late I feel they should also be leading by example and demonstrating their commitment. However, the excuses are usually traffic related so I guess we can account for that these days, blame the M62! Being the first in the office also means I’m usually left with the task of the dirty plates from the day before!


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I would hope we are continuing to excel in our core business activities and offering our loyal customers the great service we are renowned for. I would like to see that our current expansion plans had come to fruition, the post Brexit fears have been long forgotten, and the business and our employees were benefitting from our future proofing and job creation plans.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Our family Coat of Arms motto is ‘Service above self’ and I have always strived to put that ahead of everything I do. Getting into work early, rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done with a smile on your face earn you the greatest of respect from your staff. Never sit back on your laurels, especially during the good times, because there is always more work that can be done. Always innovate, motivate and search for new markets, products or ideas to see you through the hard times.


Where did you start your career?

In the family business at James Robinson Fibres, sweeping floors, marking up bales and driving the fork trucks.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

1992 - Started work at James Robinson Fibres at 18. Left school on the Saturday and started my job on the Monday!

1992-95 - Studied at Uni of Huddersfield HND Business Finance (Part-time)

1995 – James Robinson Fibres took over a company called Texfelt in lieu of a bad debt. Fresh off the factory floor I was sent down to ‘find my feet’ with this company and truly thrown in at the deep end. The single greatest challenge of my early career!

1995 – Present day Managing Director of Texfelt Ltd

1998 – First started travelling overseas selling for J R Fibres & Texfelt (Aged 25). Opened new markets in the Middle East for fibres going into fillings and carpet underlays for interior furnishings for luxury hotels.

2000 – Moved across to JR Fibres to start learning the business

2003 – Took over sales in Africa for JR Fibres and developed that business, turning it around from supplying recycled textile waste into blanket mills in East and Southern Africa to supplying virgin fibres into the furniture, fillings and automotive sectors in Eastern & Southern Africa

2012 - Became a Director of JR Property & Restorations Ltd and became involved in site finding, design, marketing and sales. Commercial/Industrial division created in 2014 to develop brown field sites and commercial property developments.

2014 – Became Managing Director of JR Fibres. Father became Chairman.

2014 – Took over sales in the Far East markets for JR Fibres

2016 – Working with our marketing agency Fantastic Media undergoing a corporate rebrand and the formation of Managing Director of JR Group UK