22 June 2024, 13:11
By Furniture News Sept 15, 2016

Malcolm Nix, Wood Bros

Malcolm Nix is the sales & marketing director for Wood Bros, a family-owned furniture company in its 90th year of trading. Over that time it has specialised in cabinet design and manufacture, and has a history of supplying both the home and export markets. Whilst it is best known for its Tudor-influenced Old Charm range, it has also added other styles to its offer, keeping it relevant to the prevailing market – most recently in the form of a new upholstery collection. Service is at the forefront of Wood Bros’ approach, and this is underpinned by a published customer charter which drives the service levels offered to stockists.

How did you enter the trade?
I started in the industry in retail with W Eaden Lilley, a family-owned department store, where I worked for seven years gaining product knowledge. I always thought the life of a sales representative was an easy number – talking to people and drinking coffee – and got my break with Slumberland Beds in 1985.

I clearly was not that accomplished, as I moved into sales management with Sleepeezee in 1988, where I ultimately became marketing director – and have never lost the taste for coffee!

Who was your inspiration?
On a personal level, my father, who was head of personnel for a multinational company and was the most pragmatic of men – one day, upon telling him just how hard I was working and the hours I put in, he  pointed out that success has little to do with the number of hours worked but what is achieved in the hours you do work and the value you add. He also taught me to only worry about things I can do something about.

Professionally I was very lucky, as early in my sales career Morgan McCarthy invested time in helping me develop – without which I would not have enjoyed the positions I’ve held or the work ethic that I adopt.

What was you career high point?
Whilst with Sleepeezee we flirted with water beds, and at the time being a provider to the Royal households, we sold one to be used by a senior Royal couple. From time to time I had to visit to add the water preservative. On one occasion they were in, and were fascinated by the procedure!

… and low point?
Being made redundant from Sleepeezee and realising I still had much to learn (and still do). As one of my colleagues is often heard to say, every day is a school day.

… and the turning point?
Joining Michael Tyler Furniture, where I learnt so much about design, colour, texture and style, as well as having amazing fun over the 11 years I was there.

Describe a typical working day
I have always been an early bird – principally to avoid traffic, but also to benefit from that magic hour or so at the beginning of the day before most start and you can get so much done. That said, every day is different, but I thrive on being customer facing and working with our customers to develop our business.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
I have always loved cars, and am staggered at the complacency and poor service you get when buying one, so I guess I would have liked to have tried selling them.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
Pay day is always a good one, but now we seem to have a focused and relevant January Furniture Show coming up in 2015 I am really looking forward to that.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
Price deflation has made it harder for value to be understood. Nobody really knows where the playing field is level. We have been working hard at differentiating ourselves and building support for both the retailer and consumer so they are able to understand this better.

What company do you most look up to?
I am an Apple fan, and have been since my first iPad. No other company creates the desire and expectation they do, and the product is very sexy.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
Those who know me will understand I would like to be a few pounds lighter, but my love of fine food and wine will always get in the way of achieving this, I think.

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
I have been in the trade since I was 16. It has evolved so much in that time and continues to do so, and as the pace of change quickens it is a challenge but exciting to keep up with these changes and adapt your business to embrace the relevant changes and move your business forward.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!
I was there when, a number of years ago as part of the Christie Tyler carousel, some of the directors played a practical joke on Nigel Phillips by suggesting the Prince and Princess of Wales were to tour the show venues.

Nigel, in his oh-so organised fashion, visited all venues to brief on protocol and the fine points of meeting the Royal couple. The occasion was made all the more real with Royal protection officers being in attendance and sweeping the venues for security risks.

Of course, it was a hoax, with a convincing lookalike couple. Nigel struggled to see the funny side for some time, but it did give the rest of us one of those never-to-be-forgotten moments!

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