This week’s Business Focus is with Martin Booth, managing director of Witt UK Group, based in Shelf.
Why did you become involved in your business in the first place?
I had two job offers on the table and chose the one that didn’t need me to relocate as the family did not want to leave. We had a family discussion, I wanted to take the southern option as I thought that this job had the potential of being more boring. My wife said “you know what you are like, you will turn the business around and expand it”. She was right. You could say it was one of my better decisions.
What is your business motto?
Originally it was ‘it’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity to excel’ but now it’s ‘trusted to perform’.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
If it’s possible, start it has a hobby, talk to other entrepreneurs, know your target market, costs and pricing structure. But most of all, do your research, then research and research.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced in business?
Selling a highly technical and quality product whilst operating with Dickensian plant and equipment. Extended and or late product delivery times. A management team that had very little empathy with the workforce. The workforce would make things wrong because management believed that was the way it had to be built. Working in a rundown building that should have been knocked down years ago.
What do you enjoy most about being at the helm?
The freedom to make things happen without having to go through endless board meetings.
What do you enjoy least about being at the helm?
Having a senior figure to run ideas by.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
Being a member of the Calderdale and Kirklees Manufacturing Alliance (CKMA) steering group we have lots of members who run small to medium businesses extremely well. I am always amazed at how many companies are located in the Calder Valley and the diverse nature of their businesses. Having dealt with and visited some of the companies I am constantly surprised at their innovation and dogged determination to succeed through the construction and banking crises, flooding and now Brexit. These are the people I admire.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Building and expanding the Witt UK Group in Halifax as well as holding two design patents for the electronics and sports industries .
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
Keeping a stable, friendly and a multi skilled workforce is key to our expansion. We have a number of opportunities in the pipe line over the next two years. Hopefully some or all of these will come to fruition and we should be able double the groups turnover - despite Brexit.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
A time machine so we could go back in time and fix a number of the political and economic issues affecting the UK.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I have managed and worked in small, medium and large blue-chip companies across the world as well as owning my own business. To be honest, there isn’t another company I would like to work for other than maybe having the opportunity to have worked with Sir Harvey Jones.