While still at school I had started working as a way of funding my 6th form social life. My Saturdays and summer holidays were spent in the warehouse of the local department store, Thomas Thomas’s on Union Street in Swansea.
The manager, Mr Demery, was 74 years old – which seemed positively ancient to me. From the start I was convinced that the store would be better run by a younger, more dynamic person. But as I got to know him I was amazed to find that he knew everything about the business and all one hundred of the staff. He was also far faster mathematically than me, despite maths being my strongest subject in school (well after PE!).
On leaving school in 1977 I was recommended for a full time job with FG Trew’s, a builder’s merchant in Swansea. This was a real shock to the system as I found myself, aged 18, dealing with the tradesmen of Swansea – I had to learn fast to survive. I worked on the trade counter and learnt everything that I could about plumbing and heating but the biggest skill I developed was the ability to make a sale. Ultimately though this wasn’t the job for me and I made myself a promise that I would never again work in a job where I was unhappy, a promise I’m still keeping today.
Aged 19 I decided it was time to move on so I applied for a job with a central heating firm called Heatek. They were opening a new depot in Baglan and I was successful in getting a job in sales. After just three months I was promoted to become their local sales rep. I took to the road in my company car, enjoying the trappings that come with the job of repping. I was one of the youngest reps working for the company and it was a big step up.
Not long into my time with Heatek I was head hunted by a radiator manufacturer for a sales position. I was interviewed by the Sales Manager but wasn’t successful after he disagreed with my answer of hard work being the key attribute for a salesman. Many years later I have to say I still don’t agree with him! I stayed with Heatek for several years, achieving some good results. In my time with the company our sales area rose from a ranking of 14th place to 1st place in the sales league.
By the age of 24 I was married with two children, I still enjoyed my job but I was beginning to become disillusioned with my prospects. Even though I had taken my sales area to the top, I felt that I was being treated as a kid and not being properly rewarded. So in my mid-twenties, with a family to support, I started making plans to start up on my own.