Interview with Nigel Foreshew @ Paperstation

Paperstation in Malvern have been on an upward growth arc for sometime now; we talk to Nigel about building and maintaining that path and the part Superstat has played in helping him achieve that.

SS: Can you give us a little background on Paperstation and how your business came to be what it is today?

NF: As with lots of businesses in this industry I started out on my own. I had previously worked as a sales rep in another business but was keen to start something myself so after running a business plan by an accountant friend, I took that leap. I know lots of dealers have similar stories, starting out of bedrooms and basements and mine is no different .. though maybe slightly smaller as my first premises was a cupboard! I have one particular memory of arranging a meeting with a rep from Bantex. I was all ready for him coming in (2 chairs squeezed into my cupboard) but unknown to me, he had brought his area manager along. The meeting went very well, we talked about supplies etc, while the poor area manager stood in the corridor and listened in from the sidelines as there was no room for him in my cupboard!

SS: In terms of joining Superstat, what were your main reasons back then?

NF: I’ve been with Superstat for 16 years now. When I first started out I got in touch with VOW but they wouldn’t give me a trading account so I’ll be honest my main reason for joining a group back then was to be able to trade!

SS: You’ve been with the group since the get-go. Can you talk to us about how you use the group now?

NF: There are a number of reasons why I’ve ended up staying with Superstat with the main ones being; the Spicers deal, the robust pricing policy we have in place from using the Concise catalogue, and the knowledge/advice I just wouldn’t have time to gather on my own. I’ve been for around 5 One2One meetings with the business development team since joining and they are invaluable for me. Time away from the office gives you the space to take a step back and get a fresh look on problems that can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle. In terms of advice, these guys are talking to dealers every day so they get a lot of different perspectives on a similar problem, making them well placed to be able to help. I try to attend the regional/annual events they put on too. I find talking to other dealers about the same things we’re all facing and finding out how they are approaching problems is very useful. Our businesses are all different but tapping into someone else’s way of thinking can be just the spark you need to see a problem differently.

SS: Your business is doing well growth-wise at the moment. Can you talk about how you have achieved that?

NF: Long hours and hard work, the only holiday I’ve had in the past 16 years was for my 40th! Back in the office, we’ve been spending a lot of time getting the key factors for growth in place and we’re pretty much there now. Our premises are ready to handle bigger numbers as is our logistical capabilities, so my main focus now is on growing my sales team. I work with Jeremy Hughes to recruit, train and develop staff and we have almost hit our target with good quality individuals who really understand the business I’m in and what we’re trying to do with our customers. It’s one of the toughest jobs finding and holding on to the right people, and I feel like we’re almost there now, with a good mix in the team. So with premises, logistics and now staff just about ticked we’re ready to start pushing that growth target a bit further!

SS: I feel like you may already have answered this but what are your plans fore the future?

NF: Apart from getting the sales team fully up and running, my next job is to maximise the potential within my customer base by expanding into new areas. I recently bought the stationery arm of a printing business here in Malvern, so selling print into my customers (without the long supply chain) is an area I’ll definitely be looking at this year.

SS: Well, thank you Nigel, it’s been great to talk to you though I can’t quite shake that image of 2 people in a cupboard having a meeting while the third waits outside!