Anyone who wants to start up their own company would do well to follow the excellent example of Rocket Print and Promotions, crowned Business of the Year at the Grantham Journal Business Awards.
As managing director Noel Reeves explains, it has grown from a £1,000 start-up at home to a thriving international business, providing eye-catching exhibition stands to customers all over the county and all over the world, from its base right here in Grantham.
* How did it feel to be named Business of the Year?
Winning the Business of the Year award was an immensely proud moment for me, as it’s recognition of all the hard work each and every one of my team put in to make Rocket a success. It means a great deal to all of us and is also a brilliant story to tell our customers about.
* At the awards, you talked about starting the business from your bedroom with £1,000 – tell us more about the journey of Rocket, and how it has developed over the years.
Yes, back in 2009 I started outsourcing exhibition graphics for clients attending trade shows in the UK. I had developed a simple product that was cost effective and easy to market. I took £1,000 from our savings and put it into a business account and that was enough to get it all moving. The first three years I remained working from home on my own, but I had an idea for a new product which would require taking on a small industrial unit or workshop. Jenny at Grantham Estates worked out an innovative lease agreement for us on our unit in Inner Street, and that helping hand gave me the confidence to take a massive leap of faith to try and move the business on to the next level. Since then, Rocket has created 14 permanent local jobs, invested heavily in equipment, vehicles and technology to integrate all the services we once outsourced. Now we manage the whole process internally, from conception to completion. Our turnover has grown fivefold in the last three years, helped mainly by expanding our customer base and adding value to existing client relationships. We are always looking to do new things, to help our clients achieve their own promotional goals and the result of this is better relationships and more work!
* What are the main services you provide?
Our main services are the design, print and building of exhibition stands. We work with local, national and international businesses on projects ranging from a few posters, up to a large custom-built exhibition stand. Our biggest selling product is our seamless graphic walls, which allow us to install a continuous image on to a large wall up to 4m high and any length. Our current record is 21m long in one piece! We also provide all the ancillary products used on exhibition stands like AV, flooring, lighting and furniture.
* Where have your exhibition stands been displayed?
We work at all the major events and venues, but some of the best known consumer events would be the Ideal Home Show, The Boat Show, BBC Good Food Show, National Wedding Show, The Baby Show, Toy Fair and even the PGA Championship at Wentworth!
* Your work is also used internationally – which countries have used your designs?
We have clients from, and ship goods, all over the world, including to France, Ireland, Germany, Dubai, Australia, USA, Canada, Greece, Belgium, China, Korea, Pakistan and India.
* You obviously have a great team at Rocket – tell us more about them and their roles, and their impact on the success of the business.
Our team is made up from five departments: sales, operations, print production, fabrication and installation. Each team is led by a senior manager, but we encourage everyone to work on their own initiative and give autonomy to everyone to make their own decisions based on the work they face. Our business is incredibly dynamic, which means our team has to be flexible and react quickly to last-minute projects – as well as organisational change, as we grow. We don’t always get it right, but we are all constantly learning and that has helped us form a powerful team. Without the team at Rocket we have no business, so appreciation is a big part of my role as managing director. We do regular social events, and support anyone looking to access further education. We want to be recognised as a good employer and have a high retention of team members, and I feel we are achieving this.
* What advice would you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Go for it, but be sure you know your numbers! A lot of start-up businesses fail because they have either overestimated the market opportunity or underestimated the resources they need to make it work. I also think it’s fundamental that you are willing and have the skills to do pretty much everything in your business from the ground up. That way you can train others effectively and also step in when needed. Also, you need to be adaptable to change. Things around us change all the time, from governments to employment laws to local or environmental issues. These changes create both challenges and opportunities, so those more adaptable to meet the changing environment have the best chances to succeed long term. DON’T be afraid to fail. The best lessons and biggest opportunities have come off the back of things that we have tried and failed at. The important thing is to learn from it and move on stronger. Finally, speak to others who have been there and done it. Get as much advice as you can, but also believe in yourself and your ideas.