Meet the MD: Gareth Barber of The Stable Company

Meet the MD: Gareth Barber of The Stable Company

Gareth Barber spotted a small construction company with potential back in 2002, and quickly set about buying it. Since then he has turbed it into a successful specialist business. He talked to BQ about the challenges of starting a business and what makes a great leader.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

As managing director, I have two key roles.  The first is to grow the company to attract the right people and provide progression for those already employed.  I suppose in a way, I’m the HR manager!

The second role is to do what is right for the business.  I treat the business as a person, and with any decision I make it’s always about what is right for the business.  It’s definitely not about what is right for me – a failing of lots of businesses.


What is it the company does?

We are specialist designers, manufacturers and installers of timber framed outbuildings.  We focus on some key sectors such as Equestrian, Education, Garages and Sports and Leisure although we have manufactured everything from helicopter hangars to football changing rooms.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I Left Brunel University as an Industrial Product Designer in 1992.  Then setup my own design company designing everything from climbing equipment to bin lorries.  I then took a career change in 1998 and became the Design Adviser for Business Link North Yorkshire, my secret aim was to find a manufacturing company or idea that I could use to start another business. I visited several hundred companies around North Yorkshire over my four years there.  One caught my eye.  A small construction company manufacturing and installing stables.  I could see the potential for the business so I borrowed a load of money (as you do!) and set about buying the company in 2002.  Since then, the rest is history.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I work by Eisenhower’s description of a leader:  “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.”  I have it on my computer desktop so that I see it every day.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Working on the above statement to build a great team of people.  It takes real skill, patience and dedication to get a successful team of people in place.


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

Over the years I’ve learnt that staying calm in difficult situations is the best thing.  I’ve found in doing so I’m better able to think my way out of a problem.  I’ve also come to recognise that the only cause of stress is yourself.


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

To be honest, I never really had a clue.  I loved design and hence my design degree, but it wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I realised I’d love to run my own business.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Working late or long hours.  It’s a sign of someone who is not in control of what they are doing.  I don’t advocate any of my employees working long hours.  If we have to on an odd occasion, then so be it, but all my employees stick to their working hours.  We organise ourselves to get our work done in our Monday to Friday.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

I see us twice the size we are now and significantly more well-known in our niche markets.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Don’t underestimate the value of good people.  Don’t suffer fools gladly.  Don’t employ friends or family; it puts undue pressure on other employees and yourself if they don’t perform.  At the very least be prepared to have to fire them if it goes wrong.  Always believe in yourself and what you are trying to achieve.  There will be plenty of people out there who want to take that from you.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Recognise very quickly that you can’t do it all and that actually there are people out there who are way better at certain tasks than you!