20 April 2024, 08:03
By Furniture News Aug 04, 2016

Andy Shingler, Exclusive UK

Andy Shingler is the sales director of Exclusive UK. A market leader in the supply of contemporary glass and marble furniture, the Banbury, Oxfordshire-based Exclusive UK has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and has earned a reputation for delivering quality products at various price levels.

How did you enter the trade?
Via a staff agency in my late teens. The wife of my current Exclusive UK agent, Mike Neary, interviewed me, told me to straighten my attitude and sent me for interview at Delaney Bros in Birmingham. I got the job, was called sales co-ordinator, but was really Mike’s ‘gopher’! I left 11 years later, as sales director.

Who was your inspiration?
In recent years it has to be my lovely wife of 10 years, Jayne. We were at boarding school in Devon together as young kids and inseparable, but lost contact when we left school. After meeting again 11 years ago (30 years later), we married within the year. She gets my passion for furniture and my work ethic completely, and is 100% supportive.

What was your career high point?
Joining Frank Hudson. Great times. Tim and James Hudson are true design visionaries, and it was brilliant helping to build that business.

… and low point?
Leaving Frank Hudson – but sometimes it’s time to go …

… and the turning point?
More recently, Reg [Pangali, Exclusive UK MD] giving me the opportunity to grow the business with him. I’m really enjoying working in a completely different sector of the market, with such good people.

Describe a typical working day
I’m up between 3.30 and 4.30am, to answer emails, letters, etc, before getting out on the road, working with my great sales team or visiting major clients. Possibly I’ll spend my day with Reg at head office, and then answer more correspondence in the evening.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
I always wanted to be in sales from school, so it would still be that. If you asked me about my dream job, it would be as a cricket commentator. Why not a player, you ask? The ball hurts when it hits you, and I was pretty useless.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
January Furniture Show – or any show, for that matter. The opportunity to see many customers, with all my products on show, gives me a real buzz.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
The business is doing fine. Through improved systems and communications, coupled with a great offer, we are striving to stay ahead of our competition.

What company do you most look up to?
In our trade, any company surviving and prospering, and doing it the right way. Outside our trade, Apple, which has changed all our lives.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
I’d stop smoking.

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
Naturally, I value all of my friends, colleagues and customers that have supported me throughout my working life, but seeing furniture evolve so quickly is really exciting. The first company I worked for had one range that lasted for all of my time with them – the choice today is incredible.

Leave us with an industry anecdote or word of advice, please!
For any industry – the customer may not always be right, but he is always the customer.

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