This week’s Business Focus is with Duncan Wildman of WildAx Motor Homes.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
It all grew from a hobby! I was making an old VW camper on the drive at home and realised through this that I would enjoy making it into a career. There was no looking back from there. I invested a bit of money, invited a friend to join me and we got cracking. Now 12 years later, he has left us but we are a thriving £7m turnover company with more than 40 staff.
What is your business motto?
Quality and customer service come first. Always!
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Don’t plan too far ahead. I never plan more than 18 months as its too hard to hit targets you set yourself that far ahead. Believe in yourself and most importantly surround yourself with like minded people who have a passion to help the company succeed.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
Getting a name in the industry. The motorhome industry in the UK is still growing quite rapidly but making the transition from the ‘one man band’ approach to a serious manufacturer is hard. The best way we could approach this was to build the best quality we could and continually improve our deisgns and try to be as innovative as possible. We have launched some industry leading designs in our range that have been a great bonus for us.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Well now I’m not! For the first time in 12 years I am now employed as I have just been approached to sell the shares in WildAx to a larger French company! I am happy to do this as they are a family run company that is happy to allow its subsidiaries to run independently. Prior to that the best thing was being able to make decisions fast and develop the company in the way me and my senior team thought best. I am happy that this will continue to be the case.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
Having the worry that 40 people rely on you for their monthly income. If I don’t do it right their families would be the ones to suffer. This is what always keeps me awake at night!
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
Alan Sugar – for starting from scratch and becoming a national figure and Elon Musk for being an innovative manufacturer with lots of fresh ideas and a great vision.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Getting the award for coming top in the national owner satisfaction survey that happens each year in our industry. This is not an award which is voted on by members of a press road test team – it is a direct measurement of how my customers feel about our company and products.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
We intend to continue the growth we have had every year since incorporation with a vision to be in the top three in the UK for our type of motorhome production.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
Star Trek transporter! That way less time would be wasted sitting in traffic jams! I do spend quite a bit of time on the road now as we are a national company and therefore have outlets all round the UK.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
This one! Corny as it sounds, I enjoy it more than any place I have worked in the past! I cannot see myself working anywhere else!