Co-owner of Stockport-based organisation Site Supply Company, Danny McKeever, took part in a government-backed national business mentoring programme through Be the Business, which led to him learning from a director at the John Lewis Partnership.
Owner Danny McKeever tells us more about the benefits of having a mentor.
“The Site Supply Group of companies has been trading since 2002. What was originally a business set up to sell engineering supplies, quickly adapted to the change in attitude towards the safety market across the UK.
We are now suppliers of all high-visibility clothing, workwear, uniform and safety products to industry across the UK and we have our own in-house production facilities where we add print or embroidered logos to most garments we sell. We are based in Stockport and employ 27 people.
I first heard about Be the Business through the Manchester Growth Hub who introduced me to the opportunity the mentorship scheme could provide.
At the point of being introduced to the programme, I had no idea of the calibre of mentors involved. Once I did, it quickly became apparent just how beneficial this would be, both to me personally and to a company like ours, which is looking to improve the business during a period of growth through business efficiencies and leadership.
The programme linked me up with Simon Fowler, a director at the John Lewis Partnership. He has more than 30 years’ experience across John Lewis Partnership, which includes John Lewis and Waitrose, and this has been invaluable to me. We met once a month over a period of 12 months, had site visits, off-site visits, and visits to JLP’s HQ and a John Lewis warehouse for practical insights.
I learned a great deal from Simon and we took a number of initiatives from the programme, however the main benefits were around how we manage our workforce becoming much more flexible and productive in day-to-day running as a result.
More people in our company are now multi-skilled, we have instilled core values, have better one-to-ones and have introduced a bonus scheme for all our staff, where they all share a percentage of the profits.
We have also improved the layout of our warehouse, introduced better workflows, all of which have helped us increase productivity. In the last 12 months our business has increased turnover by around five per cent, but importantly our gross profit has also increased by this same amount, allowing us to invest straight back into the business for our next stage of growth.
It is very rare that a company gets the opportunity, without paying large fees, to have access to this level of expertise. So when a programme becomes available with the calibre of companies involved, backed by the Government and supported by some of the largest businesses in the UK, it is an absolute must do. Grab it with both hands.
Make the time, put the effort in and get the most out of what Be the Business offers.”
Simon has enjoyed the added mental stimulation provided by the mentoring experience which has fitted in well alongside his busy day job as director of communications for the John Lewis Partnership.
He said: “Being a mentor comes with great responsibility. It requires the ability to listen carefully, absorb information quickly and build a trusting rapport with your mentee. Danny and I secured this kind of working relationship very early on, which means we’ve both benefitted from the joint experience.
Personally I’ve felt a huge sense of privilege and fulfilment in seeing the results Danny has managed to achieve along with his co-owners and team. There have also been added benefits for my day job too. Mentoring has given me a fresh external perspective which has made me even more alive to the commercial opportunities in my own areas of responsibility.”
The Site Supply Company team in Stockport