Tom is the UK sales director at leading cabinet furniture supplier, Kettle Interiors Agencies, where he has worked since 2011. The supplier is one of the industry’s most dynamic, offering an ever-evolving product portfolio to suit various price levels, and available through a range of buying and delivery options.
How might a child describe what you do?
Driving, talking, helping and selling!
What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?
Trying to stay ahead of an ever-changing market. It has often been said over the last two years that if you’re standing still, you’re actually moving backwards. Consumer attitudes are changing at such a fast pace that it’s always going to be a challenge to ensure your product and services are relevant and ahead of the demand.
If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?
IT system improvements and automation.
What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?
I live and breathe the job, but ensuring I spend as much quality time with my wife and children as practically possible is key. Outside of work, 95% of my time is for them, but it’s also important to leave just a little bit for the hobbies I enjoy.
Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?
I have never really had a mentor as such, however I think my uncle’s approach to business has certainly rubbed off on me over the years – especially when it comes to negotiation and mediation! Listening to some of the stories from when he was helping to run blue-chip companies, you realise that while each industry is different, the fundamental basics remain the same.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t force a bad decision in busy or challenging times. Take a step back, take a breather, and often you will make a different choice.
What’s been your best day in business to date?
One day in 2019 stands out in my mind. Myself and a team within the business had been working on multiple long-term projects across a number of accounts. A huge amount of work had gone into each project, and in reality, until sign-off, it could have been all for nothing. Thankfully, each deal landed simultaneously on that day, so it was a real cause for celebration.
What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?
In a lighthearted way, our industry seem to be experts in blaming slower periods on the weather, a bank holiday, the football, etc, etc. If we could stop looking for the excuses and replace the effort with real changes, I think we would all achieve far more productive results.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?
I think the reality is that, post-Covid, we are entering a period where the industry will need to rebalance. There is no doubt that challenging times are ahead – however, as we saw during the pandemic, times like these force improvements and open the mind to new opportunities.
I see the industry modernising at a much faster rate, while striking a new balance between traditional and digital trading much more in line with other industries.
This interview featured in January's Furniture News.