As well as a regular contributor to Furniture News, Gavin Boden is the sales director at Rhenus Home Delivery UK, which specialises in two-man deliveries into customers’ homes across the UK and Ireland.
How did you enter the trade?
I’ve been in the trade since I left school and started working for a local furniture retailer in Grimsby – first of all helping with deliveries, then I got a chance to be on the shopfloor.
I worked my way up through the company over a 10-year period and finally managed the store, before I moved on up to ‘field sales’, working for the Silentnight Group, Guardsman and Parker Knoll, and as an agent, for 14 years.
Who was your inspiration?
My inspiration for my work ethic and career is definitely my brother. He works hard but smart, has amazing networking skills and is very successful at whatever he does. He knows all the important people within his industry, and is well known within it.
What was your career high point?
I’m lucky, because I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing people – it’s difficult to choose my high point, as I don’t think I’ve had it yet. I will say that working with Rhenus Home Delivery’s amazing management team through our growth period has to be up there.
… and low point?
This one is easier. While I was an agent, my largest account decided to close its doors, even though they were turning over around £16m. All of a sudden, 80% of my business was gone and I had to reassess my career and future.
… and the turning point?
Starting to work for Rhenus Home Delivery as business development manager – it gave me the opportunity to use all my experience to help grow the business and maintain really high levels of service. We will never be the biggest two-man delivery company in the UK, but we are striving to be known as the best.
Describe a typical working day
Well, it’s slightly different at the moment, because I spend all of my day in my home office, taking part in back-to-back video calls. In normal times, I would either be working from home, travelling around the country to see clients or working with the management team to make sure we are constantly improving the customer journey.
If you had to start over, which career would you pursue?
I would definitely be a brain surgeon. I love the pressure, and I’ve seen it on TV – looks easy enough to me!
What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
The Manchester Furniture Show, 100%. It’s a lovely little show with great exhibitors and great products. But the social side of it is amazing – with all the bars, pubs and restaurants within walking distance, you get to see, socialise and network with so many people. I’ve been attending it for almost 20 years and have met some amazing people there. The warmth, the summer nights and the atmosphere are difficult to beat.
What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
Definitely Brexit, which is really causing us frustrations – mainly because nobody outside logistics knows the right thing to do, what paperwork is required, and what registrations you need to go through. And, because of the pandemic, everything is amplified 100 times.
Which company do you look up to?
The company within the industry I look up to most is Westbridge Furniture Designs. Over the last five years they have come to be one of the most important suppliers in the industry. Making an amazing value-for-money product with some beautiful designs, they are very difficult to beat at the moment.
I know a couple of the directors, and they are really nice people, which always helps – just have a look at their presence at the shows, it says everything.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
Apart from being younger and better looking? Absolutely nothing. I’ve changed so much as a person over the last 20 years that I wouldn’t recognise myself.
What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
This one is easy – the people. From the moment I entered the industry, I was hooked. Even if you want to get out, you can’t – or end up back in it without realising.
Can you leave us with an industry anecdote?
I have plenty, but 90% of them won’t be allowed to be printed!
I had been trying to get in with a big retailer in my area, without any luck, for about 10 years – then one time while in Birmingham, a bunch of us, one beer-fuelled evening, decided it would be a good idea to go into Spearmint Rhino to have a beer.
When we got in there, who did I see but the MD of the retailer … he was very embarrassed, to say the least, and after a few beers and a whole load of laughs he decided he would give my products a go on his shopfloor. Best thing he ever did.
Obviously, I can’t tell you who it is (but you know who you are!).
This article was published in the March 2021 issue of Furniture News.