IN THE COMPANY OF: Graeme Borchard, managing director of UKBathrooms / Ripon Interiors, who is planning a few amazing announcements to take his business forward
Graeme Borchard speaks to the Harrogate Advertiser about his firm managing director of UKBathrooms / Ripon Interiors
Q: In a nutshell, what does your company do and how did it start?
A: Ripon Interiors will design and create kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and home offices to suit most budgets.
UKBathrooms is all about mid- to luxury-end branded bathrooms selling through e-commerce channels.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing about it?
A: In general, we love to go to work and everyone we employ enjoys what they do.
Q: What do you do?
A: Really not sure nowadays. I try not to micro-manage but need to know what’s happening.
I come up with ideas, I join the dots and want to make the ideas happen. The team tell me it can’t happen, particularly as quickly as I want, and I say it can.
They go away and think about it and somehow we get it done, and generally have fun doing it.
Q: How did you end up here?
A: I used to hit things with big hammers! Construction, housing, heavy civils, marine engineering – huge Tonka toys.
Then I got married, had kids and joined the world of luxury interiors. The ethic is the same – if you do a job, do it right and make sure you’re proud of it.
Q: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
A: Definitely international construction projects: power stations, oil refineries, airports, huge marine projects like the Palm in Dubai. The bigger the better, really.
Hard work, hard play and lots of adventure. The best thing about that life was meeting great people on the journey.
Q: What motivates you?
A: We never started the business thinking we would be wealthy. We had young families and wanted to make sure we could watch them grow up. Of course, if you have a job that you enjoy, then you never really work a day in your life.
I work very close to home; I get to spend time with my family and I really enjoy what I do – not sure I need much more motivation!
IN THE COMPANY OF: Angela Brown, founder of Meteoric Marketing, whose pet hate is people with egos the size of York MinsterQ: What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out in business?
A: Just how hard it would be. It all sounds glamorous now, but what a journey! Many times I thought we would fail – sometimes from the mistakes that we made and other times from things out of our control.
Always though, the lesson is that there is always a solution to a problem. I find solutions by sharing; I talk to people and often that doesn’t help directly but something is said and something is rationalised and a solution is found. The thing is now, the bigger we get, the bigger the problems – hey ho!
Q: What excites you about business?
A: I was once told that 10 years in normal business is like a year in e-commerce. It moves and changes so quickly and unless you are on the train, just stay on the platform.
We are very definitely on the train and I love it. As soon as you think you have it sorted, Google changes the rules, a new invention/idea comes along and you have to get on board before your competition. Exciting? Wow!
I have a great team around me who are way more intelligent than me and I just love the way we all bounce off each other.
Q: What is your pet hate in business?
A: OMG where do I start? Negativity – it’s business kryptonite! If you allow it to creep in it’s like a slow poison. You have to drive it out.
Committees! Business does not run by committee (actually nothing does, in my humble opinion!). You need decisions and if they don’t work, you need to change them very quickly.
Q: What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?
A: Maybe it’s an age thing, but I see people join us and their expectations are way in advance of their experience and ability. Be patient, learn and don’t sit back and complain about your superiors when you are not proven.
Get on, do the job, and you will get the job. If you don’t, then the position isn’t right for you. Above everything, do everything to your best ability.
Q: Who in business do you most admire, and why?
A: Most of my close friends are in business and most are way more successful than me. In that respect I am lucky. I admire them all and they will all give me different advice at different times.
A friend gave me a business book called Winning by Jack Welch. I offered to pay him for the book and he said just make sure I pass it on to someone who would appreciate it.
I have had it three months and read it three times. If you don’t admire Jack Welch, you shouldn’t be in business. I now feel I have passed it on to someone who will appreciate it – my copy is staying with me for reference!
Q: What moments of your career so far stand out?
A: Loads, but the stand-out is Grantley Hall Hotel by far. Mrs Sykes [the owner] rang me when she bought the place and asked me to do the bathrooms. I was involved pre-planning and design, through to completion, and we are still involved, and still friends.
It was five years of my life from inception to completion and it was always a complete pleasure to be involved in such an amazing journey that has culminated into one of the world’s best hotels. Thank you!
Q: What sets your company apart from the competition?
A: We constantly set the standards and our competition tries to keep up. We keep an eye on the competition, and at the same time we do our own thing and do the best job we can.
Q: What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced...?
A: The 2007-08 crash. Everything was cooking and then it all fell off a cliff. We had to consolidate and take a pay-cut, but we managed to keep all the staff on and come out stronger. It was scary, but lesson learnt: get some fat on your back!
Q: ...and what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?
A: The challenges at the moment are greater than any other time in my business life: Brexit, Covid, supply chain, etc.
But the biggest issue, surprisingly, is coping with our growth. Our infrastructure has not been able to keep up with demand. In normal business you have the privilege of consolidation, but in digital and e-commerce if you consolidate you lose.
We have risen and we will conquer. The last two years have been a huge challenge but for all the right reasons. I could do with a holiday!
Q: Have you got a five-year plan for the company?
A: We have a couple of amazing announcements this year which will take the business to different levels. Very exciting.
Five years? My world works too fast for that. If we keep doing a great job and keep ahead of the competition, then let’s have it!
Q: Why is it good to do business from Ripon as a location?
A: I was born in Harrogate and lived in Ripon all my school life. I wanted to get away and spent all my 20s working and travelling around the world. I cannot now think of a better place to live, bring up a family and work