Business News Wales chats with Alison Orrells Manager Director of The Safety Letterbox Company. It offers a comprehensive range of over 130 secure mail and parcel delivery boxes with solutions available for both commercial and domestic use. Alison shares her career history and plans for the future in the Welsh business Market.
Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within The Safety Letterbox Company?
I had a successful career in retail management until joining The Safety Letterbox Company in 1999. I worked in various roles within the company, including works manager, business development manager, general manager and then moved into my current managing director position in 2008. My role is to run an innovative, market leading, successful and profitable business. I encourage a continuous improvement environment and we are constantly looking to develop new ideas, products and solutions, as well as enter new markets. I am also responsible for the sales of products manufactured from other companies in the Renz Group that we are now part of, into various markets.
What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
We plan for growth in the UK market, new product launches, advances in intelligence in mailboxes, and the revolutionary development of parcel delivery solutions. We have been working for many years on a project focused on product trials and development to enable us to deliver an innovative and ground-breaking solution to the problems surrounding parcel delivery. We plan for this to come into fruition in coming years.
Our challenges are always based around external influences such as political uncertainty. We plan carefully and strategically, however, in order to maximise on any opportunity.
Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
I may have taken a few more risks along the way during my career or gone with my gut instinct a bit more, but generally there wouldn’t be much I would change. I made big steps, tried new things, put myself outside of my comfort zone, and pushed myself and others. This approach seems to have largely worked well.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
There are many important qualities that in my experience include: open communication; planning and organisation; measuring and adjusting to suit; being fluid and flexible; encouraging development and change; and absolute tenacity and determination with lots of hard work.
What are your top three tips for success?
Perseverance, planning and determination.
Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?
The use of individual mailboxes installed on the exterior of properties is something we are passionate about – for security, reduction of heat loss and aesthetic purposes. To have a traditional letterflap going forward should be reduced on new housing and commercial developments to ensure a commitment to a reduction in crime and environmental issues.
Do you foresee any issues that Welsh business will be facing in the short/medium/long term?
Uncertainty regarding Brexit and economic matters are a clear issue for Welsh businesses looking ahead. Skill shortages are another concerning issue. Despite these hurdles, business managers collectively have a responsibility to remain positive and focused on achieving goals to make Wales and the UK dynamic, progressive and innovative.
Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?
We follow the construction industry closely in the UK and worldwide, so we are monitoring any impact in that sector for its potential to affect the business. We are positively driving our business and do not take our eye off the ball with speculation and predictions – we will deal with what we are presented with when it arises.
What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?
Wales is often considered second rate and not given sufficient prominence in the UK market and as such its people, products and businesses are often not given the recognition they deserve. The Welsh assembly needs to address this issue for the benefit of the country.
What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
Increasing our communication will help showcase what Wales has to offer. A commitment to improving the skills gaps that exist and encouraging businesses through support in critical areas will also make us more attractive.
What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
Firstly, how to work hard. The ethics of how to achieve in life, skills in key areas of manufacturing, management and business, as well as the foundations of a modern society are areas that need to be prioritised within the education system. To encourage forward thinking and entrepreneurship.
How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?
It is critical. If we are to be a serious developing nation striving for new products, growing businesses and success going forward, it is the generation coming through the education system that will help get us there.
What are those coming out of higher education enabling the market to do? What do they bring to the table to allow employers to invest in them and encourage them as individuals to be successes in their own right? In business, we want and need new thinking, innovation, core skills and a strong work ethic. This needs to be started and nurtured through education.