‘The firm punches above its weight in North­ern Ire­land’

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - The Big Interview -

Q what’s the best piece of busi­ness (or life) ad­vice you’ve ever been given?

A the head­mas­ter of Down High gram­mar school asked me what I wanted to do with my life? I hes­i­tated. He said ‘What­ever you do how are you go­ing to get there if you don’t aim high?’ So I aimed high.

Q what’s the best piece of busi­ness (or life) ad­vice you’ve ever been given?

A plan in ev­ery de­tail — and very, very im­por­tantly, fol­low up.

Q what was your best busi­ness de­ci­sion?

A when we were a small com­pany I bought and sup­plied free of charge 26 chilled dis­play fridges to Well­worths su­per­mar­kets to ex­clu­sively stock our prod­ucts. It kick-started our busi­ness and gave us vol­ume.

Q IF you weren’t do­ing this job, what would be your other ca­reer?

A be­cause I love the sea, I would have liked to have been a ship’s cap­tain.

Q what was your last hol­i­day? Where are you go­ing next?

A last one — sail­ing a sail­ing cruiser around Strang­ford Lough. Next one — I love study­ing the Ro­man Em­pire and would like to see the ru­ins of Pom­peii.

Q what are your hob­bies/ in­ter­ests?

A sail­ing, es­pe­cially rac­ing.

Q how far did you take your in­ter­est in rac­ing?

A I took part in in­ter­na­tional level yacht rac­ing, rep­re­sent­ing Ire­land and the UK at world cham­pi­onships.

Q what is your favourite sport and team? A MY favourite sport is rugby and my favourite teams are Ul­ster and Ire­land.

Q IF you en­joy read­ing, could you rec­om­mend a book?

A the Power of Pos­i­tive Think­ing by Nor­man Vin­cent Peale.

Q how would you de­scribe your early life?

A AS I was brought up on a veg­etable and live­stock farm from an early age I had to help with many farm du­ties. Farm­ing is an en­vi­ron­ment of hard, long work for lit­tle re­ward. I saw how hard my par­ents worked. It re­solved me to get an ed­u­ca­tion to get a bet­ter job than farm­ing. This drove me to univer­sity to do busi­ness stud­ies. How­ever, af­ter grad­u­at­ing I ac­tu­ally quickly re­turned to the farm.

Q have you any eco­nomic pre­dic­tions?

A the eco­nomic pre­dic­tion I think is af­fected by in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences. In gen­eral I am a bit pes­simistic for the agri-food in­dus­try which is a main­stay of our econ­omy. North­ern Ire­land is in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion I think the man­age­ment of Brexit is bad and is caus­ing a lot of un­cer­tainty.

Q how would you as sess your time in busi­ness with Wil­low­brook?

A suc­cess­ful. As part of the agri-food in­dus­try we do punch above our weight in North­ern Ire­land. I am proud to have been an in­no­va­tor. Man­ag­ing to sur­vive in a very com­pet­i­tive, low mar­gin busi­ness for 46 years has been chal­leng­ing. A key has been the abil­ity to change with the needs of the mar­ket. And of course we have, and still pro­vide, steady em­ploy­ment for 250 fam­i­lies. I would al­ways give great credit to the much-ma­ligned for­eign work­force who work well with the whole work­force.

Big splash: John (in yel­low) took part in in­ter­na­tional yacht rac­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.