Fifth-generation family bedmaker and double Queen’s Award winner, Harrison Spinks employs over 600 people in and around its manufacturing operation in Leeds, and is the purveyor of the Harrison, Somnus, Hybed and Spink & Edgar bed brands. Now a buyer for the business, Daniel is the son of MD Simon Spinks, and has worked in the family business for the last six years.
How did you enter the trade?
I’ve worked in several aspects of the business. My interest in the industry really began in high school when I chose to do work experience for Harrison Spinks, in the finance department. When I joined college, I found myself working at Harrison Spinks on my days off and during the holidays, for what was then the combined graphics and marketing department.
After college I had the choice of university or joining the business full-time. Having spent time within the business already, I was very keen to carry on, learn more and make my own money, so I joined full-time in process improvement. Since then, I’ve worked in quality, and I’m now in purchasing.
Who was your inspiration?
I don’t have one single inspiration. Three generations of my family have worked in the business – my father Simon, grandfather Peter, and great-grandfather Ronnie. I know how each of them contributed to the business during their time in charge, and to see how the business has grown into what you see today really fascinates me.
It excites me to think of the contribution I can also add to the business as my career develops.
What was your career high point?
Even though I have only been in the business for six years, I have had many highs already. Upon my induction I made my own mattress from start to finish, which I then actually took home. It was great to really understand the process and appreciate every detail of what our company works so hard to produce.
I created an induction process for new staff, using what I had experienced to improve it for others and to help new employees gain a better understanding of the business as a whole.
However, I think since I’ve joined purchasing, I’ve really taken to the role, and I feel it has been a real step-up. There is involvement in all sides of the business, and the role gives me the opportunity to travel, build new relationships with suppliers and introduce new products.
… and low point?
I’ve not yet had a real low point in my working life. I was shy to begin with, which I think held me back a little and meant that I didn’t hit the ground running as much as I’d have liked. However, after joining the business full-time, it didn’t take me long to settle in, and my experience has only been positive since.
… and the turning point?
I feel as though the turning point was when I was given the role of site tour guide. We have a huge headquarters in Leeds, and my confidence grew with each tour I gave.
Describe a typical working day
My working day is different from one day to the next. In such a fast-paced environment, you can never be sure how your day will pan out. Most days involve placing orders – mainly technical textiles and wire rod – meeting and negotiating with suppliers, and working on new product development.
If you had to start over, which career might you pursue?
I honestly can’t picture my career any other way, but I’ve always had an interest in cars, and I think that interest could definitely have taken me somewhere.
What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
The NBF Bed Show is always a great time for the company, as well as a great insight into the industry. I also really enjoy our internal strategy days where the whole company gets together and discusses how we can progress as a business.
Trips abroad for work are always fun – I particularly enjoy going to the interzum show in Germany. And we always look forward to the Christmas party as well, obviously!
What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
The main issue within the furniture industry as a whole at the moment is how products are affecting the environment – particularly mattresses that make their way to landfill. R&D in this area is really big for us, and the environment, and how we protect and look after it, is always a business priority.
Which company do you look up to?
I really like the way that Airbnb operates as a company. Its business model is 100% about the customer. It uses the host and travellers’ reviews to tell stories of the locations rather than promoting itself – subtle, but effective.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
I’d like to strengthen my willpower and how I prioritise. I have always found myself working with other people on their workload when my own plate is full.
What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
From what I have experienced so far, I’d have to say the actual industry itself. I think it really helps that I have a genuine interest in guaranteeing a good night’s sleep – it motivates me to do the best job I can.
Sleep is rising on the public agenda. You don’t go a week any more without seeing an article in the online newspapers detailing the benefits of a good night’s sleep. It interests me … and why wouldn’t it? You spend half your life sleeping.
Can you leave us with an industry anecdote?
A couple of months back, one of our transport drivers, Ian, was delivering mattresses to customers. One of those deliveries was addressed to a ‘Mr Michael Owuo Jr’, better known as UK rap and grime artist, Stormzy. Needless to say, Ian got a welcome surprise!