Clearview National November 2015 - Issue 168 - Page 23

INDUSTRYNEWS Evolution of Origin “I joined the company initially to help out; my father and Neil were working closely together to get the company off the ground and I could see that they were on the brink of something real, and I could be a part of it.” Previously, Origin founder Neil Ginger had worked for his father and uncle helping to build swimming pools, with customers constantly requesting bi-fold doors to complete the look. Neil found it almost impossible to find anything of high standard in the UK, let alone to match the specifications, and some of the lead times for the doors to be delivered were six, eight or even 16 weeks. So Origin was born. The British company now designs, develops and manufactures the Origin Bi-fold Door and Window at its fast-growing High Wycombe facility. Brocklesby started as a bookkeeper-cum-sales and accounts manager, but also did her fair share of manufacturing the doors. “There were so few of us to start with, I’d help make the doors and load the lorries – making the doors from scratch for someone’s home that you know they will love is very addictive.” Brocklesby soon became aware of the enormous opportunities to grow the operations side of the business. “I’m just one of those people who love a challenge,” so she would put processes in place to accommodate the company’s needs. “I completely grew the accounts department from nothing and did the same with HR, recruitment and business operations.” As Victoria rose from admin manager to COO, so did the company, becoming one of the biggest UK aluminium manufactures in bi-fold doors. Like its creators, Origin has evolved, now with an annual turnover of over £20 million, operations in Dubai, North America and Europe, currently employing 153 people at its UK headquarters. But she found she loved the business. “It was a complete buzz, producing a product from scratch and then seeing the things your company has made in use out in the world every day.” “Recruiting more women into manufacturing is a challenge, but there are many opportunities as it is a huge and diverse industry. You can’t always believe the fiction that women can’t make the same money men make, or that there are fewer opportunities for women in manufacturing. Until we attract more female apprentices, graduates and other entrants, we will continue to see women under-represented at all levels in manufacturing.” Brocklesby describes women as having a softer approach than their male counterparts and perhaps it is Origin’s ability to harness the gender balance in the boardroom that has been vital in securing the future competitiveness of Origin and being a successful British family business. Bringing in the Big Guns Origin started trading in 2002, finding the economic crash worked in its favour by removing rogue competitors; Origin was soon inundated with orders. Recognising they didn’t know which direction to take the business, Ginger and Brocklesby found a ‘very lovely angel’ who believed in Origin and changed the direction of the business. Daniel Baker, who pushes the strategic focus of the business forward, helped devise a world class production system that enabled Origin to offer a ‘Your Lead Time, Not Ours’ service - essentially Origin are the first in the world to remove lead times from a bespoke manufactured product. The company has flourished; alongside a period of financial growth, Brocklesby has led the expansion of business support services and engaged other departments ensuring that every employee understands Origin’s core values and the significance each person’s role plays in achieving the company’s goals. “It’s been an interesting learning process, we’ve learned a great deal about listening to people and what they need us to do.” Mums in Business “To successfully cope with life, the thing working mums really need is a good sense of humour,” states Brocklesby, mum of two sons, Henry and Edward, who is constantly juggling her busy family life with running Origin. The business is a real family affair, 85% of the workforce has another family member working at Origin. Brocklesby accepts she might have had it easier than most, and since having her second child, she only works a three day week, but she’s quick to point out that’s just as stressful as she’s now cramming five days into three. “Our determined approach together (as a family) means we care about the business. We can cope with change and the fast growth of the business because we are all striving for the same thing – complete success. We focus solely on two quality aluminium products, meaning we can provide what customers really want.” Typically Victoria’s day starts at 6.00am, before the children wake at 6.30am and then there is pandemonium to get everyone out the door on time. Husband Ben, who also works at Origin, takes the children to school while Victoria goes to the gym for a personal training session, before getting into the office for 9am. Her working day starts with emails, followed by back to back meetings and catching up with employees, not leaving the office until after 6.30pm. Brocklesby concludes, there’s an army of working mums quietly but consistently doing just fine juggling of the work/life balance. She considers the assumption that any woman, who chooses to work their way to the top, will never see their children a ‘faulty narrative’ and her story shows that this view is an old-fashioned one! Women in Manufacturing People thought Victoria was crazy when she didn’t follow a scientific career inline with her degree, but chose to help run a manufacturing business her cousin had started. She was one of the few women she knew of at that time working within manufacturing, especially in the doors and window industry. Brocklesby acknowledges that they are fighting societal norms, with women only accounting for 23% of directorships in manufacturing. Giving Back Working with, and helping people is a big priority for this COO; making time to speak to the employees and giving guidance helps her appreciate that product is product at the end of the day, and the people who work at Origin are the real assets to the business. “I try to talk to all employees each week, mentor and give advice. I believe in the power of giving back and if you help people, there will come a time when they can offer you help in return.” Victoria is passionate about community spirit – “We have internally benefited so much from Origin’s success and we are always looking for ways to give back to the community via charity or local mentoring in schools. Stronger links between employers, schools and colleges, encouraging them to work together more closely will help young people consider all possible career options.” C L E A RV I E W-U K . C O M » N OV 2015 » 23