Gary Morgan is the Managing Partner or Richard Baldwin Motorhomes. Based in Copley, Richard Baldwin have been providing Motorhomes for families across the country since 1998, and recently announced plans to expand their servicing facilities and create further jobs in the community.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
The business was started by Richard Baldwin 20 years ago. Richard who remains the majority shareholder, set it up after selling his heavy haulage business. In 1998 he started the business from where the current workshop lies and we have expanded from there. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, opening our main showroom in 2003. I joined in June 2008 and have been running day to day operations since then.
What is your business motto?
On our website you’ll find it says, ‘making dreams come true since 1998’ and I think that’s true for a lot of the customers who come through our doors. A motorhome is an aspirational purchase, and most of the people we see here have been saving for years. For many it’s part of their retirement plan, and they’ve worked all their lives to save and get their dream motorhome. It’s a real pleasure to be a part of their process and help facilitate something so aspirational.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
It always depends on what industry you’re looking to go in to, but for many of them I would say that there’s a lot of red tape and challenges you won’t anticipate. Having a much simpler, streamlined business will make your job a lot easier in the beginning. You need to be prepared for a lot of demanding work, worry and stress, but if you get it right the rewards are well worth it.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
I think the biggest challenge I faced personally was coming on board just as the recession hit. June 2008 was the peak of the motorhome market, and that was the month I joined. Shortly after that the industry suffered staggering losses, and one of our major funders for the stock went out of business. We had to readjust our business model incredibly quickly, but we’ve learned from the experience. We’re much better suited to handle problems like that if they were to arise again, and we’re stronger for going through it.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
I get a great sense of satisfaction from employing people and being able to provide for the people who work here. It’s a simple thing, but it means a lot. When the recession hit I was less worried about losing money than I was about potentially having to lay people off. Thankfully, we didn’t have to make any redundancies and kept everybody on board through the toughest times of the business. I also love talking to customers, but I don’t get too much chance nowadays.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
There is a lot of bureaucracy that comes with it, but it’s inevitable and the pros far outweigh the cons.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
A man I admire a lot is Mick Jagger, and that may sound unusual if we are talking business. But if you know anything about him, you may be aware that he and his band were swindled left right and centre, with bad record deals and dodgy accountants in the early days, before he took control. He’s a brilliant publicist, negotiator and deal maker. His ‘company’, if you like, is The Rolling Stones, and he’s been running it brilliantly for nearly 50 years. He helped pioneer corporate sponsorships on tours and he runs a tight ship. There are a lot of people in business I don’t agree with, in terms of certain beliefs and how they may conduct themselves, but I always respect their success and the work they put in.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
I think getting through the recession and not having to make anybody redundant is the biggest achievement. I’m incredibly proud of our long-term staff retention – a lot of people have worked here for 10 years or more and I think that says a lot about the kind of workplace we look to create.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
I see us developing the new service centre and giving the sales site a bit of a facelift at the same time. We’ve got great premises but want to ensure it stays modern. Naturally, our goal is to further increase the sales and continually improve our levels of service. After that it’s time to look to the next generation and see what we can do to meet their needs.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
I don’t think it would work, but something that would stop people being discourteous and not being able to understand and communicate with each other. Whether it’s a spray, a pill, anything! I don’t believe anybody truly enjoys conflict, and life would be much simpler with a more civilised approach.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t mind working for Manchester City, it’s my childhood team and having some say or some impact in that would be nice. Aside from that, I couldn’t think of a business where I can say off the top of my head ‘I definitely want to work there’ as I love working where I am now.