What does your role include?
As well as being the managing director of Harrison Spinks, I see myself as an inventor and a coach. I make many mistakes by trying to make things better and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I believe people learn with every mistake, which leads to success and understanding.
I don’t micro manage the team. As long as their decisions are made with the best intentions, they are allowed to get on and run the business. This not only gives them freedom, but massive responsibility too. It works well and we run forward on numerous levels at once.
What is it the company does?
As one of the UK’s most established and innovative bed manufacturers, we invent and produce products to make the world a more comfortable place. We have invented and patented the Millennium award-winning Revolution spring® and a unique HD pocket spring which can be layered as extra comfort fillings.
This gives our beds an unrivalled spring count and comfort, and we make approximately 50 million springs each week. The springs offer the sleeper a pressure-relieving surface, which reduces the amount of aches or pains that may occur during sleeping.
While our main business is making mattresses and beds, we’ve also launched an upholstery range with our patented springs, which is the first in the world to use this kind of technology. Our springs, which we manufacture using our own machinery and sell globally, are also used in cot mattresses, sprung footwear and components for car seats.
We believe in sustainability, and as the most vertical bed manufacturer in the world, we make almost all of the components that go into our products. We have invested in our own Yorkshire Farm, located just 20 miles away from our factory in Leeds. On the farm, we rear sheep and alpacas for wool, as well as producing hemp and flax. We also have a beautiful, converted barn at the farm, which has become a popular spot for weddings!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Enthusiasm – There’s only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm, and that’s the lack of it!
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I’m very passionate about innovation and making advancements within the industry, so I have to be careful not to bore people in the pub talking about springs!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Apart from my wonderful family who dominate my time when I’m not working, I have a passion for cars. This is as much about the tinkering, as it is the driving.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I always took things apart to see how they worked. I remember showing a friend how the magnets I had just extracted from a motor stuck to my father’s yellow E-type Jaguar.
This didn’t go down well with my father, who gave us both a “clip ‘round the lug.” My friend went home sobbing and told his father what had happened, and received another clip!
Being part of a long-standing family business, I always knew that I wanted my own business from an early age.
I have always liked doing things differently to everyone else. If the world is going in a particular direction, we take the opposite and swim upstream. Eventually, the world turns our way, and we are now in the lead.
Any pet hates in the workplace?
I hate politics and egos in the workplace. That attitude gets in the way of business.
Where do you see the company in five years time?
We could double the size of the business and the turnover in the next five years. We have come very close to doubling our turnover in the last 5 years, and we have momentum on our side now!
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Do your own thing. Real success only came to me when I brought the things that interested me into the business. We invented a spring that we sold the IP for US$1m! That’s back when a million dollars was a lot of money!
Where did you start your career?
My first business was selling free-range eggs from our hens. The business only broke even, but I learned a lot from that. Only start your own business if you can make a profit.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
1981 – Aged 11, I started work on the factory floor to pay off a debt of a new bicycle (Company turnover less than £1m).
1989 – I left college and started working full time. I soon got into implementing Quality Assurance standard BS5750 (Company turnover less than £2m).
1995 – I became operations director and started to reform the business internally (Company turnover less than £4m).
1999 – I invented the revolutionary spring and sold it for US$1m. (Company turnover less than £6m).
2000 – I became MD of Harrison Spinks after convincing my father to promote himself to chairman (Company turnover less than £7m).
2005 – Company turnover increases to £12m.
2010 – Company turnover increases to £20m.
2013 – We were awarded two prestigious Queen’s Awards, one for Innovation and one for Sustainable Development.
2015 – Company turnover increases to £37m.
2016 – Predicted turnover of £47m.