John Broderick is a busy man. He explains the journey from Manchester Vending to Broderick’s, embracing their client base, and his company roles as agony uncle and Mr Ideas!
What does your role involve?
Like MDs in many medium size businesses, my role is wide reaching. Steering the direction of the business, along with Peter - my brother and co-director - is of course my fundamental purpose, but on any given day I can be anything from company agony uncle to busy working with the exciting brands who are keen to be stocked in our vending machines.
What is it the company does?
Broderick’s is a luxury coffee and snacking business. We started life almost 50 years ago as a vending machine company: Manchester Vending, which was set up by my father. Since then we’ve grown to encompass much more than vending and have a number of boutique coffee bars too: including one at Manchester Airport and in the First Street business district to name a couple.
We’ll always see ourselves as the pioneers that have changed the face of vending though: with 4,000 vending machines across the UK, we’re proud that buying a drink or snack from a Broderick’s machine is anything but a distress purchase, it’s a treat. Our clients range from household names like Sky Broadcasting and Amazon – whose offices we keep well refreshed – to airports, libraries, and universities.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Before moving into Broderick’s I spent some time working as a travel agent, which I actually really enjoyed, but the destiny of the working in the family business was hard to ignore and I’ve happily worked here for a couple of decades now. It’s exciting to help grow a family business to the next level.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Compassion makes a great leader and knowing what makes people tick. Some people operate by telling others what to do: the difference with a great leader is getting your team to understand and buy into the dream, so they’re on the journey with you.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
It’s been improving the perception of vending. I find it frustrating seeing the raft of poor vending facilities that are still around up and down the country. Though other companies setting the bar so low means that Broderick’s can shine by being one of the few that does vending properly, it also gives the sector a bad name. It’s my mission to get vending trending! And I’m delighted that we’ve made great strides in the right direction, with major brands like Monster and Nestle now counting our smart Media Vend machines as central to their promotional mix.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I play the piano: I was recently given a beautiful grand piano for a big birthday! So, I donated my previous set of ivories to the Broderick’s café at Terminal 2 Manchester Airport – which has attracted some great attention from everyone from a singing policeman to travelling celebrities who’ve given impromptu performances.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t really know…but my mum had other ideas: she wanted me to be a priest!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I can’t stand gossip: it’s draining and negative and nothing good ever comes from it. I also hate change not being implemented quickly enough…I’m Mr Ideas, and innovation gives me a real buzz. There’s lots going on at Broderick’s that I’m excited to unveil in the early stages of 2017.
And while I’m on my soapbox, I hate employers not treating their team properly. Zero hours contracts are abhorrent.
Where do you see the company in five years time?
There are so many opportunities and applications for vending that the world’s our oyster. I can see us vending higher end products, and things that haven’t even been invented so far!
I can also see vending being of real social value – for example as a way of distributing food at food banks.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Don’t be scared of change and trying something new and failing. All experiences are valuable. Never sit on the fence – be true to your gut instinct and run with it.
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