Business Focus: Gary Whitaker, Pennine Pneumatic Services

Halifax Courier Business Awards 2016 at The Venue, Barkisland. Employer of the Year Pennine Pneumatic Services Ltd. Gary Whitaker, second from left, collects the award from sponsor Dr Martin Haigh from Latitude 7, centre.
Halifax Courier Business Awards 2016 at The Venue, Barkisland. Employer of the Year Pennine Pneumatic Services Ltd. Gary Whitaker, second from left, collects the award from sponsor Dr Martin Haigh from Latitude 7, centre.

This week’s Business Focus is with Gary Whitaker of Pennine Pneumatic Services.

Why did you start your business in the first place?

I was working for Pennine SCS Ltd back in 1991 that went into receivership. I thought I had devoted too much time and energy to the company to give up so negotiated with the receivers to buy the company back, the company name became Pennine Air Services Ltd that later changed to the name we have today Pennine Pneumatic Services Ltd

What is your business motto?

Providing customers, the right turnkey packages with a wealth of experience thanks to a strong motivated team of staff

What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?

Keep close to customers changing requirements

What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?

Cash flow. When you start out banks are reluctant to fund new enterprises

What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?

When you run your own business you can be more flexible and react quicker to your customers requirements in a way large corporates can’t. You can also cut out the red tape and it’s not like turning a tanker around, you can react swiftly.

What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?

Chasing money and managing people can always be a bit challenging.

Which business figure do you most admire and why?

Alan Sugar. He came from nowhere and even though he’s very successful now he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, very similar to PPS, we work like that here, there’s no hierarchy and no executive parking spaces we just park where there’s a space.

What achievement in your career are you most proud of?

The new premises in Brighouse without a doubt. Unbelievably my life has come full circle I left the building as a 21 year old lad and now I’m back again. Our company has now grown to become Pennine Pneumatic Services and Simm Engineering Group Ltd with the help of all our great team of staff, now numbering 55.

It was a strange feeling getting the keys to a building that we now own, the vision was to have the offices like a BMW showroom and I think we’ve achieved that.

Where do you see your business going in the next five years?

We’ve continued to grow year on year so in five years the sky’s the limit. Our new location and state of the art business products, thanks to our partners, means that we are distributing market leading and innovative products.

Atlas Copco is the Mercedes or BMW of the air compressor industry. Mercedes introduced ABS brakes and now most cars have this as standard, Atlas are the same, they lead the way and others follow.

I started and trained on Atlas Copco products in 1982, 35 years ago! Pennine SCS Ltd were the leading Fluidair distributor in the UK, in 1991 Fluidair chose to pass the selling of the compressors to another distributor giving us the chance to work with Atlas Copco again, the rest is history.

If you could invent one new product, what would it be?

A vehicle that runs on fresh air super eco-friendly. Battery cars are heavy and are limited to the distance they can travel. They need to find another natural resource as we’re going to be seriously challenged in years to come.

If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?

Overgate Hospice - they do a fantastic job helping to care for people who are not as fortunate as others. It’s a good place but for obvious reasons not the happiest place. Local people all know someone who’s been there. We do a lot to raise money for the hospice including charity walks and golf days.

We also support them in other ways. Their van was burnt out along with one of their shops in an arson attack so we leant them one of our vans fully fueled and they were really grateful, we liked to be seen as a giving something back company.