Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP

Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP

We are delighted to announce that Gareth Evans has been appointed HPP's Deputy Managing Director.

Gareth, who first joined our family-owned company when it was in its infancy 32 years ago, is stepping up from Sales Director and will work closely with MD Keith Wardrope, who heads up HPP with brothers Martin and Stephen Hill.

"I'm chuffed to bits, and also proud of the achievement," says Gareth, who began his career as one of three people in one tiny office dealing with customer service and sales. "When I look back 30-odd years after coming to an interview with Stephen Hill, I didn't in my wildest dreams think that I would end up here."

MD Keith says: "It's the right time in our business development to appoint a deputy MD and I would like to congratulate Gareth and thank him for the loyal service and assistance he has shown over many years.

"Gareth and myself have worked towards this goal for several years. He has shown great commitment and loyalty to making HPP the best it can be, not only from a commercial point of view, but also from a staff wellbeing perspective. A massive well-done Gareth!"

Now in his third stint at HPP, Gareth says he has twice 'gone on a break' to learn about the industry at different levels.

He adds: "I've spent time at manufacturing level with Kronospan and Wilsonart, but my passion is distribution.

"The hustle and bustle, no two days being the same, and understanding supply chains at different levels has been brilliant.

"In distribution, my first job on the road was at FG Chambers / BCL, I'll be eternally grateful to what I class as great mentors in Steve Ryley at BCL and John Blake at FG Chambers, companies that are no longer trading but back in the day were both recognised for the service and products they offered."

Following his appointment, we've been speaking to Gareth about his journey at HPP, his hopes and aspirations for the business and how he sees the KBB industry in the future.

What made you come back to HPP?

The people! Most importantly Keith - I'm not just saying that because he's MD but he's a shrewd cookie! During my first time at HPP, Keith was a customer. He had high standards that in all honesty made HPP improve. If you could keep Keith content, you could keep most customers content.

"Having the opportunity to work with Keith has helped me understand not just the industry, but how to deal with certain situations. We have a close working relationship which has enabled me to grow as a person.

"Out of all the places I've worked, HPP is the place I have always been happiest. I know it's a bit of a 'cliché', but at HPP it's true. It's one of our biggest strengths. I love nothing more than showing customers around the HPP, to show what we can do. You can't walk into a department without getting a fist bump, hug or handshake from colleagues."

You've told us about your early history at HPP, what about more recently?

Back in 2020, I joined that board of directors along with Andrew (Evans) and Dan (Mounsey), at which point we all started the next part of our journey, getting involved with all departments in a more operational capacity.

I think between the three of us, we make a good team, we each bring different skills to the table which combine to work really well.

At a similar time, we also saw Gary Kinder, Chris Essex, Matthew Wilson, Paul Boyes and Paul Wilson, who were either here or recruited, move into more senior positions within HPP. It's been really good understanding the dynamics of the team we're building to make us an even stronger business as we move forward.

Have you any immediate priorities in your new role?

To continue learning, to make sure that staff welfare remains one of our top priorities - our staff are the most important asset we have. I want to make sure they know we're here if they need us. With the pressures of cost of living and other things, it's important to make sure that our team are as happy as they can be. There will always be things to deal with, but stability is key.

I'll be working closely with Keith on a number of projects that will help me cement myself into the new role, things will change from a more specific sales role, which I've loved, to a more 'operational role'.

We're reviewing our customer service standards and will soon be rolling out new KPIs to ensure that our customers continue to receive a high level of service but also look at things we can do on both a transactional basis as well as things we can do with new technology to make it even easier to deal with HPP.

We're looking at AI opportunities too, which whilst I'm not a tech geek by any stretch of the imagination, really excites me!

What are your longer-term aspirations for the business?

To continue to see growth. There are still so many opportunities for HPP, the journey hasn't ended. We partner with some of the best brands in this industry (Blum, Egger, Kronospan, Sensio and Vibo) as well as manufacturing a fantastic range of component and door products. Since returning from Covid we've seen how important it is to work closely with these partners.

We need to keep being innovative. Only recently, we've introduced an acoustic slat wall product to our portfolio and there are other products that would fit nicely into our range that our current customer base could use. There are other things that we are looking at that would also fit nicely into our existing range.

We know our strengths are range, service and reliability. If we continue to focus on these three points, we won't go far wrong.

Where do you see HPP in 5 years' time? (And in the longer term?)

After the last few years since Covid, I'd be happy with steady manageable growth. Someone once wisely said that sales is vanity, but profit is sanity, and it's true.

I'd like to think there may be opportunities in the future for additional branches in areas that we can't distribute all our products to, whether that be through acquisition or new branches, it's something that interests me, as long as the timings for the business are right.

We'll continue to embrace new technology to improve our systems but also service levels to customers and strive to set service standards that are recognised as excellent in our sector.

What are your hopes and fears for the KBB industry?

The last few years have been strange, we haven't seen the new housing market and replacement kitchen market both fire on all cylinders at the same time in the way we have in the past. It would be great to see growth in both areas.

In relation to fears, there is talk about finding new people - particularly kitchen fitters. It would be nice to see some type of apprenticeship scheme gain momentum to encourage younger people into our industry.

We've talked previously about recruitment, I fear this may continue to be difficult in both skilled and semi-skilled areas, particularly with the upcoming changes to national living wages.

And finally, what have you learned from your journey?

Be a sponge, listen to people. This industry is full of people that understand not just sales or business, but how to deal with people. Use these people as mentors and absorb as much knowledge as you can. There are opportunities out there for everyone if you apply yourself well to what's in front of you.

"This is the biggest thing I tell my kids. Yes, A Levels and a degree help, but when they were younger, when we used to go to parents' evening, I was more interested to hear that they turned up on time, were polite and tried hard. For me, that's the foundation to any success as you mature.

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Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP
Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP
Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP
Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP
Sales Director Gareth Evans Steps Up To Deputy MD At HPP
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