100 year old company Darfen Durafencing started out in 1912. Now they serve the royal family and countless showbiz stars. We spoke to the MD behind this substantial, but little known business.
Clive Wragg FCMI IEng MIET
Role and company:
Managing Director, Darfen Durafencing
£16m in 2011
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
Our sheer size by comparison to others in the marketplace and the fact that we operate nationally with branches from Airdrie to Portsmouth. In other words, large enough to be financially sound and reliable in these times of economic uncertainty, and also regionally placed to provide local service.
What's the big vision for your business?
Gain market share and develop into new market sectors.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
Nil, UK –based operation only.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
Taking the opportunity to change jobs and relocate in one go during the depths of the recession – not a good plan when where you are going goes “belly up” within a week. I learned very quickly that my value to the security industry was good and not to take too many risks during the downturn.
What makes you mad in business today?
Constant bad news regarding economic downturn leading to reduced business confidence it almost feels sometimes that we self-perpetuate the problem.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
Standards of security ratings for fencing are under review and an acceptance in the security industry generally that secondary security (perimeter) systems add more value than denser metal in terms of protection.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
Many are clearly struggling due to the amount of bad debt exposure that damages return reliability on a regular basis. In the fencing industry, the government should find ways to invest in construction such as housing and utilities to fire up the sector and generate some contracts that can be completed, providing short to medium term stability. The principle of supporting Banks to help fund startups and SMEs must be a top priority to aid the recovery.
How would others describe your leadership style?
I would like to think I am viewed as situational and adaptive, certainly not permanently autocratic or laisse faire.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
I allow myself a season ticket with the Rams each year (personal dilemma –masochistic tendencies) and enjoy both squash and golf when time permits.
You've got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK's independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
Use the 2012 Olympic feel-good factor to influence investor’s confidence. The UK is still the world leader in many fields and remarkably stable by comparison to other countries, therefore generate business confidence that we are the place to invest.
Help SMEs, especially those in the high technology and manufacturing sectors to grow and develop. Innovation is key and must be encouraged to help generate GDP – we import far too much and reduced our manufacturing capability and capacity some time ago; resurrect it and watch it grow!