We talk to former winners of the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards to learn more about how winning the award has impacted their businesses.
In this post we speak to Paul Brophy of Paul Brophy Produce.
Remember, the closing date to enter the awards is Friday 25th September 2015. You can enter your business here.
Best Agri-Business Award, 2014 – Paul Brophy, Produce
Paul Brophy Produce is a vegetable producer established 31 years ago in Naas, Co. Kildare, where it is based today. Originally started as an experiment, growing a range of vegetables to supply to local supermarkets, green grocers and restaurants, the business now services the seasonal demand for fresh Irish produce, specializing in the production of broccoli and white and green cabbage. Its main customers today include major multiples and food service companies. Paul Brophy Produce employs 10 full time staff and 60 part-time staff during seasonal peaks.
What was your start-up day?
The business started in 1983, so we were slow developers, not an overnight success but it proves the point “good things come to those who wait”.
What motivates you?
Building a better company, having more customers, adding more value to our products, building my skills and abilities as I develop as a leader.
What keeps you up at night?
I am able to detach myself from all the stresses of the day by immersing myself in a good book.
What’s been the most surprising part of running the business?
The buy-in and enthusiasm from key staff all wanting to go the extra mile to be part of a winning team.
What’s been the most challenging for you?
The transformation from a small enterprise to a larger one. Making the vision a reality.
And the most rewarding?
Living the dream. Ten years ago I could not have even comprehended being where I am today.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I made a quick decision once on a critical matter and was wrong, it cost the business a lot of money. I learnt a lot from that mistake. The lesson learnt was to think through all key decisions and the quality of these decisions are greatly improved if made with a small group of key stakeholders. As George Bernard Shaw said “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful, than a life spent doing nothing.”
What are some of the characteristics of people that have been successful at your company?
They make decisions quickly, trying to exceed our customers’ expectations, agility is one of our traits. They all possess the ability to tolerate intelligent failure and never see risk taking as a career limiting move.
What are you most excited about for the future?
The rapid advances in the internet of things, the changes precision agriculture are bringing, and where evidence-based decision-making will bring the industry to a new level, really enthuses me. Change and challenge create opportunity and as a business we must embrace this – we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
Any amazing families, partners, friends behind the scenes you’d like to thank – how did they support you in the early days?
No one ever told me I was mad even though they secretly probably thought so. My wife, for her patience and close family for their support. Just being told you are doing great things reinforces you through the dark days.
What doors has winning the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards opened for you?
The industry I work in (Horticulture) is a very small one, it did not take long for the word to spread among the key players not only in sales, but in purchasing – companies all want to be working with winning partners, as the mantra says “success breeds success”
What was the biggest benefit for you winning this award?
The exposure: when you are dealing with multiples the buyers all like to drive a hard bargain, but there is also a deep-rooted need among them that they want to be dealing with the best companies to do a particular job, this has reinforced that need.