Thursday, July 21, 2016
You don’t need to win trophies to be successful, as business proves, says Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd.
If you’re a new reader, I’ll point out that my growing lifting and rigging equipment company is headquartered in Bridgend, South Wales. Every month, I try to strike a non-commercial, advisory tone in this blog.
Since my last post the Welsh football team have returned home as heroes after losing to eventual winners Portugal in the semi-finals of the European Championships. It’s worth saying again… semi-finals! A year or so ago we would have been happy to even qualify let alone go within two wins of lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup.
Many were expecting Wales to fail to qualify from Group B, which also contained England, Russia and Slovakia. Not only did we win the group, we edged past Northern Ireland in the last 16 then beat much fancied Belgium in the quarter-finals.
There’s a point to reliving those memorable games, which I’ll come to…
The first knock-out match was a typically cagey affair between two home nations but I wasn’t worried about them scoring against us and wasn’t surprised when we eventually netted, albeit with an own goal, diverted in from a Gareth Bale cross. After a nervous start against Belgium, I was always confident. Ironically, we looked more settled after they had scored a great goal to go ahead. Some expected the floodgates to open, but from then on we were the better side.
As it turned out, Portugal had their name on the trophy. But having exceeded everyone’s expectations and made a whole nation proud, Wales were winners in their own right. That’s why celebratory scenes in Cardiff and elsewhere when we welcomed the team home were appropriate and in perfect perspective with the scale of the achievement. This was, after all, Wales, losing semi-finalists of the European Championships, our first major tournament for nearly 60 years!
The jubilation received some negative publicity, most notably from journalist, TV presenter, celebrity and Arsenal fan (says it all!), Piers Morgan. Actually, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey was probably my player of the tournament, followed closely by Liverpool’s Joe Allen. Anyway, I digress… Piers Tweeted: “All it [the celebration] does is tell Welsh kids that if they come 3rd, they’ll get treated like winners. Wrong message.”
I respect everyone’s opinions but, as he would acknowledge, Welsh people have a right to disagree. As I blogged last month, Wales have been a great example to “Welsh kids,” as Piers put it, indeed to young people all over the world. The team’s ‘Together Stronger’ mantra filtered through the stands, into French fan zones (I was there to see it first hand in the early days of the tournament) and all the way back home to Wales. Actually, what our celebrations told “Welsh kids” is that by playing as a team, a huge amount can be achieved and people respect that achievement, whether it ends in winning a trophy or not. Right message.
Success can be measured largely against expectations. Granted, now we have reached the semi-finals of the Euros, we will spend the next two years ensuring that we show signs of improvement by the time the World Cup comes around in Russia in the summer of 2018. “Cheer them but no bus parade unless they win,” Piers spat in reply to someone defending our celebrations. Maybe there’ll be cause for an even bigger bus parade through Cardiff in two summers time, whether we lift the Jules Rimet Trophy or not.
For now, being part of a nation that has achieved so much against all the odds feels like winning a trophy. It was also a celebration of tournament football and we were proud of our role in that. Just like Iceland—the small nation’s dreams came apart against hosts France in the quarter-finals—Wales proved that it doesn’t matter how many big names a side has got, playing as a team is what’s really important. And whether Piers accepts it or not, the team, and Iceland, have inspired my son and a generation of youngsters.
As an aside, it was no surprise to see debate about the European Championships, or #Euro2016 as was the hashtag, played out on social media. Twitter has increasingly become people’s go-to source for information, whether it be first thing in the morning, during an event, when a major incident takes place, or as a business networking tool. Our handle, @RopeandSling, is welcoming new followers every day and we will shortly welcome the 900th member of our community.
I would encourage all teams in all walks of life to celebrate their achievements, particularly in business.
Here at Rope and Sling we measure our success against a budget and allow ourselves a few celebratory beers once we’ve hit a target. I’m sure I’ll be chinking glasses soon with Tony Teeder, the manager of our new depot near Heathrow in London. The opening ceremony marked the continuation of my long-term plan to have 10 facilities covering the whole of the UK.
Celebration is not to be confused with complacency. As I’m sure was the case with Wales manager Chris Coleman and his team, they weren’t parading around the country thinking they’d conquered the world. Perhaps that’s where Piers Morgan got confused. What they were celebrating was a major achievement and, importantly, a stepping stone to the next big thing in Russia.
In business, if a company celebrates positive Q1 results but takes their eye off the ball (like one or two goalkeepers did during the Euros!) they can forget getting the champagne out again at the end of the next quarter. Once we made a decision to take the business nationwide, we knew the first sign of complacency would see us fall short of our dream, heading back to Wales with our tails firmly between our legs.
Our aim is to have 10 facilities and the only way to achieve that is to go from one, to two, to three… you get the idea. Whether Piers Morgan likes it or not, I will be using the Welsh football team’s recent achievements as inspiration and instill a belief in my team that we’re Together Stronger. To that end, I challenge my staff every day and welcome the challenges that they set for me. That’s how we protect ourselves from the disease that is complacency. Integrity is also key. I like to think my team know that when I say I’m going to do something I do it. I expect the same in return.
Tony Teeder will certainly be reiterating that as he grows his team at the new depot. Before that, it’s been a case of making sure all the ground work is in place for a successful launch, including internet, telephones, racking, stock, office furniture, utilities, signing lease contracts, marketing, renovation, client visits and more! Those local customers and major infrastructure projects will be key to giving us cause for celebration.
Our southern area manager, Tim Panter, will also have a role to play in addition to overseeing matters at our first facility in the south of England in Aylesford, Kent. Tim is well equipped to support Tony, while my job is to ensure they have everything they need to make a success of it. We haven’t staged successful openings of our fourth, third and second depots by being complacent and waiting for the phone to ring, as I’ve discussed in earlier blogs.
On we go, Together Stronger.
Thank you for reading. Follow us on Twitter at @RopeandSling
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd