Meet the MD: Gavin Parks of GPS Installations

Meet the MD: Gavin Parks of GPS Installations

At 23 years old Gavin Parks decided to give up his full-time job and go it alone by launching GPS Installations. 13 years on, BQ caught up with him to find out what he believes makes a great leader and why he decided to go it alone.

What is it you do?

As the director of GPS Installations Ltd I am responsible for overseeing our day to day operations and managing our network of engineers across the UK.

I like to be involved in all aspects of the business which can range from providing our clients with product advice, to going out and visiting site to assist with the project management of our installations.

Starting out from an installation background rather than the sales side, I doubt this ‘hands on’ approach will ever leave me and I do like to be involved whenever possible.

 

What is it the company does?

We are a technology integration specialist and provide AV, Fire and Security systems throughout the UK.

This could range anywhere from kitting out a boardroom or classroom with the latest Audio Visual and Video Conferencing equipment to providing a commercial building with a fully monitored Intruder Alarm system, 1080p High definition CCTV and full Biometric Access Control solution, with Distributed Digital TV and a site wide IP Public Address system.

It’s our breadth of knowledge of all of the individual components and technologies available that allows us to design and install effective, high quality fully Integrated systems for our clients.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

A professional but down to earth approach, all of the leaders I have ever respected have this quality. Don't get too big for your boots!

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Giving up the tools!!  I have a passion for the technology that we offer and for many years I was out on the road installing the equipment which is something I have always enjoyed, other demands naturally take over as the business grows and I had to take the decision to leave the installation work behind and channel my energy into business development whilst ensuring GPS continues to offer our clients an unbeatable service with the installation element carried out by our network of qualified, time served and vetted engineers.

Although when I say giving up the tools… I have still got the toolbox in the boot… Just in case!

 

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

I think regular exercise is really important.

And I have been guilty of not doing enough of this in the early years…

I would always be saying "I’m definitely starting the gym next week" until one day I was made aware I had been saying this for over 2 years, paying for a gym membership the full time without attending once.

I do make the time nowadays though and I’ve come to realise it’s important to exercise regularly to help alleviate the stress of being in business, It’s so easy to get caught up with the different demands that are presented day by day that unless you commit to making the time then before you know it…

Well… 2 years have passed!

 

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

I don't think I had anything in particular in mind, I probably would have just been content with being a bit taller than I was then.

Or possibly a professional BMX rider.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace?

Email politics.

I got told off recently for CC’ing someone into an email with some general info that was really relevant to their business and customers, they were quick to inform me (and unbeknown to me) they had once been the boss of the person who was in the main address bar.

Really?!

It made me laugh.

How dare you make me a mere CC! Do you know who I am??

Personally I think life is too short to worry about who is promoted to the main address bar of an email and if this is more relevant than the contents then I have some concerns of my own.

 

Where do you see the company in five years time?

Our industry is constantly changing and it never stands still for long as technology is always evolving.

In five years from now it's inevitable that the majority of the systems we install will be network based and this is already increasingly becoming the case with new equipment, often reducing installation time but requiring a good level of IT skills from our commissioning engineers.

As we move closer towards the (IoT) Internet of Things way of life that is often talked about, our skills will be developed to match how our suppliers choose to evolve their products, with regular ongoing training and development being at the heart of everything that we do.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Honesty and integrity is everything in business, only promise what you are certain you can deliver.

 

Where did you start your career?

My mother (a talented cake decorator) got me my first job at Greggs of Gosforth, I was in charge of cutting the Strawberry’s in half before they went in to the Strawberry Tarts, so if you ever had a Strawberry Tart from Greggs around 1996, I more than likely halved the Strawberry that went in to it!!

After giving up the cream cakes I went on to a small local engineering firm for a short time and then on to ABCA Systems where I was employed for 7 years before setting up on my own when I was 23, I didn’t have 1 single customer when I started but I was helped with a £2000 Princes Trust loan which was enough to set me on the right track.

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

I trained as an installation engineer from 1996, progressing to a lead engineering role responsible for the installation of AV and Security systems throughout the UK for ABCA Systems Ltd.

I set up in business in 2003, initially working on my own for a number of years until I had developed a steady customer base and some good repeat customers.

I always had plans to grow the business but remained small throughout the recession and built solid foundations as well as completing regular training and gaining important industry related qualifications, I think it’s vital to know what you are selling inside and out to be able to advise your clients correctly. I am fully qualified in all of the services we offer and I now have 20 years’ experience in the industry, over half of which have been spent running and developing business skills with GPS Installations.

My brother David is also now a valuable member of the team, managing our customer services processes, making sure the quality that GPS prides itself on is maintained at all times.

In January 2015 the time was right to push the business forward and begin plans for growth expanding into new larger business premises at Northumberland Business Park in Cramlington whilst increasing sales turnover by a record 300% in the 12 months that has followed our move.