Ramblings from our founder...
"Hi I’m Dave Armstrong. Founder of Great Minds Property Group."
I’m 46 years old (last week) and I’m as excited about being in business today, as I was when I first started 23 years ago. Ok, I have adopted two little people (now aged 9 and 4), so I do things in a very different way, but my ideas, my energy and my drive is no different from all those years ago. My experience and my subject matter has broadened. Back then it was corrugated inserts. If you know what they are go to the top of the class. If you don’t – like most – I will try to educate you.
My humble beginnings started making cardboard divisions and pads that separated and protected products for the motor industry, the food industry and many more. Think of those cardboard things that separate your wine when it is delivered and you won’t be far wrong! I worked hard. In fact, I don’t remember a lot of my twenties, because I drove the business to ten fold growth (and profits) in five years. Hard to grow exponentially and have the same profit margin, but I did it.
I knew back then that my hard work, commitment and quest to give the client what they wanted, was the key to my success. I built a team around me to deliver quality products, on-time. I valued our efforts with prices to reflect our value and we became known as the best in the UK. I went out selling – and when a new order came through by fax (ask your mum if you’re too young to know this word), I would run around the shop floor in excitement, proud of my efforts showing the team. I advanced systems, processes and production through investment – I travelled Europe visiting competitors to learn how to improve and when the going got tough and I had promised an order to a client, I rolled my sleeves up and got working on the shop floor. How could I expect colleagues to work until 8 that night, unless I was prepared to get stuck in myself? Here I could listen to colleagues, learn about their families, but ultimately get production through the plant to deliver to our clients.
We stopped at nothing to please our clients. Many of them are now personal friends. I often get a wedding invite or I am asked to be a god-parent. Many former corrugated clients’ recently attended my birthday celebrations just last November.
On selling the company in 2004, I was happy that I had done everything in my power to leave behind an amazing, strong company with some amazing talent. And because I had sold a business, I learned the process of buying and selling companies. Two birds with one arrow.
Fast forward all those years and I am super proud of Great Minds Property Group. Unlike before, where I exerted all my efforts into one company, I now put my effort into twelve companies that are often inextricably linked. Many of these companies I have started from scratch. Some I have bought for £1 and some I have paid much, much more. My model today is very different, with collaborative working practices and I thank life and experience for teaching me that.
Today, I have quality co-directors who deal with most of the day-today activities. My skill comes in the financial control, strategy, aligning services, dealing with key accounts, opening doors with my vast network and constantly thinking of ways to improve and develop new ideas. Often these come when I first wake ahead of the kids wanting breakfast. Often they come when I am waiting at the school gates for the kids. I quickly contact my co-directors and get them into action.
During the last 23 years and particularly during the last 8 months, the World has changed. Business and the services we offer need to adapt. What remains the same is that in order to satisfy a client, you need to know about the area you work in. you need to provide a bloody (can I say bloody?) good product or service at the right price and you need to be proud of asking for payment – I have some cracking “chasing payment” true stories.
To exemplify adaption of services, my digital media and marketing business, Burst Creative saw clients in their droves cancel monthly social media contracts at the start of the pandemic, but we fought hard to help our clients “get online” to reach their new home-based audience. We also developed and sold “back to work” and “back to school” products. We are still selling them now. Our sales were better during COVID than anytime before. And we have forged many new relationships, helping clients make their workplaces safe to return to.
Over the coming months I would like to share my ideas and solutions to ideas, if you will bare with my ramblings. And I would love your feedback.
After being in the energy, renewables and environmental legislation business for 12 years – during lockdown we launched Climate Change Professionals. It’s been years in the making with three main ambitions.
1) Our pledge – individuals can sign up to make a difference to Climate Change. It’s an online community for like-minded people, sharing best practice, ideas and shaping Government policy to make a genuine difference.
2) We want to provide the best level and variety of Climate Change training. Our Climate Change Manager, Climate Change Action Planning and Presenting to the Board courses are already a super hit.
3) We want to help companies find new colleagues to implement Climate Change strategy through their organisation and we want to up-skill candidates so that they excel in these new exciting new roles.
I urge everyone to sign our pledge and get involved with Climate Change Professionals.
That’s all from me for now. At some point in the future, I will share some more thoughts, some more ideas and I will definitely tell you about my passion. Selling my first company allowed me to go to undertake a life changing charity challenge in Malawi and start my journey supporting HIV/Aids orphans. It is my sincere belief that when we give, the universe gives back to us in another way and I solemnly believe that in life we need to find a purpose. Helping Malawi orphans is definitely my purpose. What’s your purpose? I would love to hear.
Dave Armstrong – aged 46 (but closer to 45 than 47) and still passionate today about business!