Andy Alderson

Andy receiving his award from TV presenter Ben Shepard (left) and Jonathan Austin, Founder and CEO of Best companies (right).

Vanarama chief named business leader of the year

Vanarama CEO Andy Alderson has received The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies ‘Best Leader’ award for 2017

Vanarama CEO Andy Alderson received The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies ‘Best Leader’ award on the same night his company jumped to number 18 in the publication’s annual ‘100 Best Small Companies To Work For’ list.

Following a career in car sales, Andy spotted a niche market in the UK for Pickup Truck rental in 2004 and set up Vanarama in 2007. Since then, the company has grown into one of the nation's leading vehicle leasing companies.

"We are the UK’s largest van leasing supplier and our stock position means we have much shorter order-to-delivery times than our competitors," Andy said. "Our customers are hardworking, time pressed individuals, that need to be in a new van quickly to minimise their down time.

"Their van is their office and main work tool, they also use it for advertising and they cannot make money without this. We are the first in our sector to do TV and radio advertising and are now sponsors of the National League (formerly the Football Conference League)."

Commenting on the awards, Andy said: “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with, and I’ve got a fantastic team. I love their drive, their passion for the business and our customers – they are what make us so successful.

"In turn, one of the company’s biggest commitments is to facilitate the well-being and continuing development of our employees – I’ve always believed that if you look after your people, the rest will take care of itself.

"That these awards are based on the opinions of my staff makes me especially proud – both of them and the business we are building together. What a great start to 2017, I’m delighted!”

The awards come at a time when Vanarama is pursuing a programme of rapid expansion and employee development, facilitated by the company’s recent move into a state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly office building in Hemel Hempstead’s Maylands Industrial Estate.

Andy added: “At Vanarama, we try to take big steps every year and 2017 will see us take several large ones in quick succession. The new building represents a £5m investment in our future, and is a clear indication of how important the continuing development of our people is to the future growth of the business.”

Of all stages of Vanarama’s growth, this has certainly been the most bold and complex. Notwithstanding the structural and ecological improvements required to create an excellent 21st Century building, the company also had to cater for an exponential growth in staff and the services and products that it offers.

Andy added: “Cutting-edge training facilities, new spaces for our employee wellness sessions – such as Yoga and Pilates – and company doctor, and a brand-new cafeteria are just some of the things we’ve invested in while kitting out the new office. Now we’ve settled into our new home, the company’s future is looking very bright – for the team and our customers.”

And it doesn't stop there, looking to the future, he said: "By the end of this year, I expect to have sold 17,000+ vehicles with a turnover of £42m. By 2018, I expect to be selling around 21,000 with a turnover of £50m+. At the minute we don’t trade internationally at all but our model would transfer into other countries, so at some point in the future, I expect us to dip our toes in the water."

Speaking about what he believes makes a great business leader, Andy told BQ:

  • Lead by example – never ask people to do what I’m not prepared to do or haven’t already done myself.
  • Honesty, integrity and transparency are key to leading a team.
  • Never be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong.
  • Always remain level headed – no matter how successful the individual or business is.
  • Remain calm under pressure and don’t panic when things go wrong.
  • Be pragmatic and accept things will and do go wrong.
  • Empathy when building a team is vital.
  • Always have a proactive approach to learning.