24 May 2024, 15:31
By Victoria Noakes Jun 30, 2016

Richard Sharp, Kingstown Furniture

Richard Sharp is the MD of Kingstown Furniture, which specialises in the design and manufacture of ready-assembled bedroom and living furniture. All of the company’s furniture is British-made from the company’s state-of-the-art factory in Hull.

How did you enter the trade?
I have been involved in the trade from an early age. I would come to the factory with my father, Mike Sharp – chairman of Kingstown – who started the business in 1976 working out of his garage and built it up from there. I would spend the summers and weekends in the factory doing various jobs. I then started at Kingstown in 2002 having had a successful career in the Merchant Navy.

Who is your inspiration?
I have met many inspirational characters and have had many influences in the industry. However, in terms of drive, enthusiasm and passion I would say my father has been and still is the most inspirational character in my life. His desire to continue to build a successful business is still there in his chairmanship of Kingstown, and his experience, to me, is invaluable.

What has been your career high point?
I would say it was when I became MD of the company back in 2008. Prior to that I spent many years working in various roles within the business and on the road meeting customers.

... and low point?
It was in 2008 at a time when the economy fell into disarray due to the collapse of the banks, and this really impacted the business as a whole. This was great experience for me in how to manage the business in a difficult environment.

... and the turning point?
Following on from the previous question, the turning point was towards the end of 2009 where all the hard work was starting to pay off. There was terrific support from our customers and the industry as a whole. It helped me to move the company forward, improving on quality and efficiency.

Describe a typical working day
It may sound like a cliche, but every day is different for me, and it varies depending on what is happening in the business. I am a hands-on MD and like to ensure I spend time in the factory as well as regularly meeting our customers and suppliers. I am an early bird but like to get home to see my family.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
Professional golfer.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
It has to be the January Furniture Show as it is the largest trade show we exhibit at and it is a great opportunity to meet new and existing customers. I appreciate their honesty, and this gives me further knowledge I can use to improve the business. I am also really looking forward to our new showroom opening in June.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
As with most businesses today I would say the stability of the economy and the potential result of the election.

What company do you most look up to?
I admire many companies, especially ones that have strong leaders who work hard to be successful. I look up to Victoria Plumb as it is a local, family-run business that has worked hard and strives to be the best in the industry to provide a quality service.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
I would like to be physically fitter – however, it is hard to find the time between work and family, and the occasional game of golf.

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
I enjoy the satisfaction I get from producing a good commercial product that is to the satisfaction of our customers. As the trade is a very personable environment, people are always honest with you and it is a great feeling when you get it right.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!
On my first day at Kingstown in 2002 I turned up wearing a suit – to be sent home to change into my jeans. After this I spent several months working in every part of the factory. The reasoning behind this is something I understand from my career in the Merchant Navy – you can’t expect to be able to tell someone to do something unless you understand it yourself.

This depth of understanding has helped me with the team in developing the factory and in speaking with customers, in understanding and striving to meet their expectations.

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