My working day begins at 6.30am, with a shower, a bowl of trill (old age) and then I drop my youngest son at the school bus for 7.30am. My office is in Tebay Services (M6) in Cumbria so I might normally travel there, but we now have Gloucester Services (M5) and Cairn Lodge Services (M74) and advisers across the North West, so I could be heading in any direction.
I have been married to Catherine for 26 years having met at KPMG in the 80s, where we both qualified. Our daughter and eldest son are at university studying French and Russian respectively. Our youngest son is also a Russian scholar: I am not sure where the language gene comes from.
Since KPMG, I have held senior finance director roles in manufacturing and support services, but have gradually moved to MD roles as my fringe receded and the few remaining hairs greyed. I enjoy the wider perspective of a business that the role brings, but armed with the numbers.
I am gregarious and positive by nature and like to see smiles within a business. My bad joke repertoire tries its best. I truly believe that people perform at their best when they feel happy, have clear responsibilities and are supported. It is my first role in a business where I am the oldest member of the executive team but I have enjoyed sharing my experience with my younger colleagues. It’s one of the benefits of getting older.
I joined Westmorland in 2008. The business was established in 1972 by John and Barbara Dunning when the new M6 went through their farmland in Cumbria at Tebay. Their purpose of a sustainable approach to business through local sourcing and being rooted in a community remains a cornerstone of the family business today. Initially my role was focused on developing the Gloucester Services opportunity on the M5, when it was merely an aspiration. It has been an incredible journey via the Court of Appeal to obtain planning and the business now employs over 400 people and will give £10m to charity over a 20-year period. We have a fantastic business which is incredibly interesting and diverse. We have about 10m visitors to our sites each year and now employ over 1,000 people. Our offer extends across catering, retail, fuel, hotels and leisure. I do not therefore really have a typical day in my role. Over a week I would normally spend a day at another site meeting local management, a day or two with a project focus and 2-3 days on managing the existing business. My days can range from strategic discussions with shareholders, liaison with Highways England or banks, to working on a fuel deal. I tend to lunch at my desk or on the move as we are very much in growth mode at present with many opportunities. I particularly enjoy working with our people and helping them to develop their plans and see them grow in their roles.
Andy Smith, our group forecourt manager, does a great job in the daily management of our fuel business. Our fuel volume has doubled in size in the past 18 months and we were very proud to receive Forecourt Trader of the Year in 2015. We have also recently joined the Top 50 Indies list. In the past three years we have built two new forecourts and acquired one in Scotland. We have also invested heavily in new infrastructure on all our existing sites. It’s been a very busy but productive few years. We now have supply deals with Esso (Greenergy), Texaco and Shell.
If I am not staying away, I normally get back at around 7pm unless I am attending business functions which I enjoy and which are great opportunities to network and see what else is going on in the world. I play football and tennis for an hour each week and have a run when I can. Keeping fit is important and a couple of pints of real ale after football on a Friday night wipes my mind clear of the weekly pressures as does being a season ticket holder for Preston North End.
Our business operates 24/7, 365 days a year. I make it clear to colleagues that I can be contacted at any time. With the right support, teams can achieve great things.
Company: Westmorland Limited
Job title: Managing director
Career history: KPMG, Baxi Partnership, Enterprise plc, Tetrad plc
Greatest achievement: Family; completing the Great North Run; Gloucester Services (M5) from an idea to fruition
Tips for business success: Work hard, keep your ear to the ground and treat others like you would want to be treated
Most likely to say: Is all ok with you? All clear? Let me know if you need anything
Least likely to say: Not interested (being inquisitive is essential in life)
Other interests: Family, football, tennis and Preston North End