Back in 2002, having worked extensively for 16 years both locally and nationally in a variety of sales roles in the office equipment world, it was time to test the water and see if I could do this for myself. So with two other colleagues, (still my business partners today), Smart Office Systems Ltd was born. In the years we have been, trading there have been many lessons learned and almost all have been positive!
I am very proud of the fact that we have built a stable and successful business, provided a livelihood to 20+ colleagues and have still managed to give something back to the local community, to the value of approximately £250,000 over our trading years.
I have been involved in the office equipment industry since 1986, always on the sales side, and covering roles from Junior Salesperson through to UK National Sales Manager, for a major manufacturer.
I started my sales career with a local dealer, selling Minolta photocopiers and quickly moved through the ranks from a junior to an account manager.
Progressing from there, I worked with some other local copier sales companies as a Sales Manager, before spreading my wings and moving to a national manufacturer, Riso UK, where the roles reversed a little in that I was now responsible for selling to the dealerships.
I progressed from Northern Area Manager to UK National Sales Manager, responsible for both the direct and indirect sales team. I learned a huge amount in my time at Riso UK, but probably the most important lesson I learned was how to read a balance sheet!
Over this lengthy period of time, our industry has changed dramatically. I am still learning and more importantly, still interested in learning how the ever-changing arena of technology moves. From my early days of analogue copiers to today, armed with a vast knowledge of digital print equipment, software solutions, IT infrastructure and Telecommunications – it never stops.
SOS was born out of the desire to “make a difference” and to create and leave a legacy. We also felt that there was a gap in the market that we could fill with our experience and fresh ideas on how we should approach our business.
Of course, at first the aim was to survive, and having spent the previous 3 years as a UK Sales Manager I was more used to a role of ‘directing the traffic’ rather than ‘driving the car’! However, the enjoyment and buzz of getting back to selling directly to customers soon took over and off we went.
We built up a fantastic client base of some very prestigious names, some of which we had no right to win as a start-up, but our desire, determination and the will to get things done shone through. These same traits and characteristics have remained in force and have helped us get where we are today, a strong, financially sound, independent company with a desire to keep building and expanding, hopefully for many years to come.
Outside of my family, who have always been incredibly supportive of my professional career, my burning passion has always been sport, in particular football.
I have played, coached, managed and refereed over the course of my football career. I also enjoy rugby, but only as a spectator and am a keen (but very poor) golfer. I am also a fair-weather cyclist whenever I get the chance.
Can you see a trend here? I enjoy the outdoors in pretty much whatever way I can get it and with 2 dogs as well, there is no shortage of opportunities to get out and about, just a lack of time!
Most recently, I have been pulled back into assisting with a coaching role at Whitley Bay FC Development group, which is hugely rewarding and extremely enjoyable. Who knows how long this adventure will last, but at the moment it’s proving to be great fun!