In the first of a new weekly feature hearing from business owners across Calderdale, we speak to Caravan Guard and Wilby Ltd founder Peter Wilby.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I felt I could do things better than the company I was with at the time. The combined experience of working for a big national insurance broker and a small local insurance broker gave me the opportunity to mix the best from both.
What is your business motto?
At Caravan Guard our motto is “Positive people delivering brilliant customer experiences”. Wilby Ltd was the first insurance broker in Yorkshire to obtain the Investor in People award and we’ve always believed that our success comes from developing positive people to give great service to our customers.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Have a plan to know where you want to go and how you aim to get there. Surround yourself with positive people who have your fit and culture. Don’t worry about employing people better than yourself!
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
Probably our credibility with larger business clients – would they think we were too small to look after their insurance affairs? We worked hard on our marketing and were also successful in winning several national insurance awards, which helped us tremendously in building our reputation.
What do (did) you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Knowing that I could steer the business in whatever direction I thought best and knowing that I didn’t have to answer to anyone but myself!
What do (did) you enjoy least about being self-employed?
The long hours, particularly in the early years.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
On a Global basis it would have to be Richard Branson. I have borrowed so much from him. On a local basis it would be Andy Thornton and his wife Kate. They built a fantastic business, whilst doing so much for charities and the local community. They built a great team of people around them and they’re also the nicest people you could meet!
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Seeing so many of our team progress through our company to become successful and important members of our business and very rounded, lovely people.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
We aim to continue our successful growth and have an ambition is to increase our involvement with good causes.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
It would have to be some sort of lifesaving device. In December, Caravan Guard donated the remaining £68,000 needed by the Yorkshire Cancer Centre in Leeds to buy a revolutionary NanoKnife, used for treating previously inoperable tumours, and it will be great if more products like this could be developed to save more lives.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
Virgin in their early years must have been very exciting and fun. It would have been interesting to see at close quarters how Richard Branson did things.