Tag Archives: sponsoring

Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Keeping the family business on the road through the peaks and troughs of economic cycles isn’t easy, but MD Rob Bartup takes everything in his stride and has resilience written all over him.

The business was started as Bartups of Brighton by his grandfather in 1923. His father came into the business after being in the RAF and having ended up in a PoW camp in the Middle East in 1944. Coming home aged just 26, he was dispatched to manage the ‘Hereford office’, which then had just one van. He remained working at GB Liners until he passed away in 1995. Rob has always worked in the business, although he was tempted by a several job offers in accountancy after finishing University and has one regret – that he might have preferred taking up the law as a profession

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Rob took over the Hereford office in 1975, when the team had grown to about 15 and there were half a dozen removal vans in two locations – Hereford and Brighton. Today their dedicated staff operate a fleet of 90 vehicles from 11 UK offices. The network has grown by acquisition of smaller businesses – not always at opportune moments – and frequently when tough competition had drawn smaller competitors into serious cashflow difficulties. The sites at Bristol and Cheltenham were the first to be taken over when the owners went bust, their Hereford site merged into GB Liners Hereford.  Leeds was another smaller, 2 van business which was acquired next; then came Manchester, ‘a difficult’ start up’ according to Rob. A warehouse storage site in Cirencester was later bought and a branch established. Loughborough and Edinburgh followed, then a business in St Helens which was merged into the Manchester office. Aberdeen was bought at the height of the North Sea oil and gas boon, only to present problems in 2007/08 as the oil price crashed. The last acquisition was of a sales office in Paris, to help manage growing demand for intercontinental business. Rob denies there is an overall ‘grand plan’ however is currently on the lookout for strategically placed acquisitions in the Northeast, East or South.

Rob appreciates the role of Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank in these considerable number of property acquisitions. Some have had complex compliance requirements; others have gone through in a remarkably smooth and speedy manner. What’s been valuable is knowing at an early stage whether the interest shown by GB Liners would be likely to lead to a successful purchase, and a great deal of time, effort and energy hasn’t been expended on those unlikely to fly. Mark has given sage advice and has an ability to explain in simple language the intricacies of some of the things GB Liners have tried to do.

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The housing market and the removals business follows what Rob refers to as the ‘the economic cycle magnified many times over’. There are times when house sales are buoyant, and their existing staff and removal vans literally cannot cope with the high volume of consumer demand. At times of economic downturn, the opposite happens. “2008-09 was the worst” says Rob, “when nothing was happening”. He also recalls recessions in 1979 – 81, the introduction of the 3-day week and describes 1988-1992 as ‘extremely horrible.’ The business has always had to stash the cash at peak capacity and then watch it pour out in the downturns when the few business opportunities available get drawn into ‘silly price’ competition.

The challenge of new regulation changes and politics is never far away. The imminent introduction of Clean Air Zones around the country will have a severe impact. GB Liners managed the introduction of London’s’ Congestion zone by moving the vehicles around between offices, with newer models that complied with changing regulation on diesel engines used there. In the very near future, new zones could potentially be introduced in Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Leeds. Rob predicts that Manchester will introduce restrictions. This makes life difficult for a business that has a vehicle  lifecycle of 15 years, as they’ll either have to be replaced early (and the old ones cannot be sold off as their residual value will be lowered) or customers will have pay a surcharge of about £100 per day if it involves a congestion zone.

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Currently GB Liners has about one third of its business coming from moves across Europe, so Brexit could have a huge impact on the business. The scale of the challenge getting goods moved through the channel ports is huge, with the number of staff at customs agents reduced from a pre single market peak of 3,000 to around 150 people today in just five agencies. This could potentially mean each person having to process 12,000 consignments per day! Rob explained that even the planned ‘Simplified Transit Procedure’ wasn’t finalised yet and would require paperwork to be processed both before and after the movement of the removal vans. Without advance notice of what would be required it’s difficult for the business managers to put Brexit plans in place.

GB Liners have adapted to every change in the past and will, no doubt be equally successful in the future, whatever the economic and political climate. Over the years, the managers and teams have pulled together to share ideas and solutions and Rob is very proud of his staff who have stayed with the firm through thick and thin. GB Liners takes pride in their excellent service delivered by very dedicated people. “One thing I’ve learned, says Rob, “is that the cost of putting something right is unbearable, so we work very hard at making sure things are right first time. The reputation of the company for their high-quality service is our most important asset”.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsor GB Liners

Marks Mental Health marathon | GB Liners

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Today I met a remarkable man. Ian Smith is chair of Bishop Fleming, the accountancy firm that has made The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 companies to work for‘  list for the last 4 years, as well as a string of regional awards for excellence in professional services and Investors in People.  For Ian, the success of the firm is down to developing the right people; experts in their field who are interested in developing their clients’ businesses. Ian’s ‘little black book ‘is legendary and he prides himself in making introductions from his personal network.

Ian’s responsibilities on the Board include diversity and inclusion. As a carer himself, he understands that people often have responsibilities outside the workplace, and they may take steps to keep them hidden from colleagues. He calls this their ‘invisible baggage’ and he knows that these people are under unrelenting pressure. He is someone who definitely leads by example.  Ian takes active steps to look after his mental and physical health so that he can balance his demanding role at the company he loves with the caring role in his personal life. He talked to me about the challenges people face when they first encounter something they cannot simply ‘fix’.  Ian has found his own methods that really work in practice so that this isn’t a barrier in his professional life.

Despite his busy schedule, he’s generous with his time too, and he’ll be one of the guest speakers at the “Mark’s Mental Health Marathon” seminars.  Bishop Fleming staff are actively involved in charities – this year they are aiming to raise £100K to mark their centenary year and recently 120 of their staff took part in the Bath half marathon. Others are undertaking the 3 Peaks Challenge or taking part in a 4-day walking challenge to walk 100 miles.

So what are the secrets to his success?

  1. Self-discipline and sticking to a routine

Ian is firm believer that in order to look after your team, you first need to look after yourself. For the last 13 years Ian has had a weekly session with his fitness trainer. Recently he has seen a Shiatsu practitioner twice as month as well. Shiatsu is a holistic approach to fitness and isn’t just physical fitness but includes monitoring and managing diet, sleep patterns, massage and manipulation. The aim is to release endorphins which promote an overall feeling of well-being. Ian is a very focussed, driven person himself and he’s learned that the value of sitting under a tree doing nothing or walking the dog can be as beneficial as going on a weekend away to play golf (which often gets competitive).

 

  1. Understand both your own and your team members resilience to stress.

Ian explained the ‘Stress Bucket’ concept to me. Everybody has a different ability to deal with stress, so whilst some people seem to thrive on it and perform very well under constant pressure (they have a skip sized ‘bucket’), others find that they need to keep stress at a much lower level to function well ( imagine these people with a thimble). At any time, life is adding stress into the top of the bucket, so the level is always increasing, whilst we can empty it through our own personal tap at the base. Everyone has a different relieving ‘tap’ which could be getting better sleep, quiet reading, socialising with friends, stroking a pet etc.

By getting to know your team better, and what causes and relieves stress levels, you can direct them at work to make the most of their talents and interests and avoid situations or job roles that are unsuitable for them. At Bishop Fleming, managers and staff are encouraged to have these conversations so that the root causes of stress are identified and can be dealt with, for example by finding the right person to talk to. Without this support network at work, people will often take a medical approach, when sleeping tablets or anti-depressants may be offered, which doesn’t address the issues causing stress in the first place. Both approaches have their place, but a good support network can mean medicines may not be needed.

 

  1. Adopt the Radical Candour methodology

This is a concept developed by Kim Scott, who has worked with Google, Apple, Twitter and is a New York Times bestselling author. Her new approach, which has been adopted at Bishop Fleming, helps managers have honest feedback discussions with their team, and, as a result, achieve a happier and more productive workplace.

 

Mark Smith is very grateful for the support offered by Ian Smith, both as a corporate sponsor and speaker at the seminars. You can find out more details about the seminars here .

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