Spreading happiness and other tips from three winners at the West London Business Awards
West London Awards
Annabel Croft, tennis star and Awards host. Paul Vick, Paul Vick Architects, winner of the Property & Construction Business of the Year Award. Hannah Durling, Westfield Group, and presenter of this Award

After attending the West London Business Awards ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 10th February, I took the opportunity to interview the owners of three of the winning companies. They are Paul Vick Architects, VMI, and Alexanders Removals and Storage – three successful companies with many similar attributes. This article reveals their keys for success.

Paul Vick Architects, winners of the Property and Construction Business of the Year Award, are certainly no strangers to winning awards. Paul Vick, Founder, has had plenty of experience, having worked on three projects worth over £500m each, before he set up his own business 14 years ago. Paul Vick Architects have a stellar record on gaining planning permission and therefore often achieve more than is thought possible by clients. This may be explained by the fact that they are thoughtful and empathetic, submitting planning applications that make life a lot easier for the planners.

Be resilient and pay attention to detail

I asked Paul what helped his business win and what advice he would pass on to other business leaders. He thought these factors were helpful and contributed to his company’s win: a true love of learning to enable growth and development; thorough attention to detail which has helped the firm to find opportunities others may not find; being resilient – a key word for leaders to help their business and its people get through tough times.

These are Paul’s tips for success: have a positive attitude; when you take on a challenge always find a solution; be values-led and passionate about learning; be thorough in what you do. Paul had another tip, specific to the property sector: be motivated to look at the overall impact that design can have on people’s lives, and take into account all relevant factors, such as where people live, where they socialise and spend their leisure time, as well as taking into account societal benefits such as sustainability. Doing all these things will make a difference to the bottom-line success of your project as well.

Treat others as you wish to be treated

To be recognised as Business Leader of the Year across the whole of the West London region is no small feat. Having met Barry Bassett, Managing Director of VMI, I can absolutely see why he won the award, also winning Park Royal Business of the Year. Barry radiates positivity, enthusiasm, and pragmatism. He is both interesting and interested. These are great attributes you would enjoy finding in anyone you work with.

I asked Barry about the qualities that make his company different. Number One is the way he likes to treat people. And his staff imitate what he does. You may have heard this saying before: ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself’. It’s a simple philosophy, but hard to execute. If you’re a client of VMI, you’ll experience honesty, integrity, transparency and clarity. Exactly what any client would like.

VMI have 32 staff at offices in London and Bristol, and the future looks bright for them. They are digital camera suppliers to many major productions in TV and film including Midsomer Murders, Brassic II and Friday Night Dinner. They have adapted their business model over time from offering many things to concentrating on fewer services. They aim to be world-class in everything they do.

Keep the passion going…

One of Barry’s goals is to create a fun environment at work, so that staff love coming to work there every day. The firm offers a profit share scheme, and they are strong on taking part in surveys and getting great feedback. VMI have scored a brilliant 96% in the ‘Great Place to Work’ survey.

While on the subject of the working environment, Barry is an active participant in the West London Business Race to Zero Programme. He believes in implementing something internally first, then in inspiring others to follow suit. VMI are setting a great example for us all to copy.
And Barry has written a book, Full Experience Living, which is dedicated to spreading happiness. It’s available on Amazon free of charge.

I loved Barry’s story of how looking at the geraniums planted in tubs outside French restaurants tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the food at that restaurant. If the geraniums look healthy and have brightly-coloured flowers, the food is probably very good. Water and good care and attention will take care of that. His focus on the happiness of his staff means that the staff give excellent customer service to VMI’s clients, and that is key to Barry’s success and that of his firm.

These are Barry’s top tips for success: pay close attention to detail; hang on to your best staff and keep the passion going, always. These tips sound just fine to me.

Treat the team like a large family

The big winner of the night in the West London Business Awards was Alexanders Removal and Storage. They won four separate Awards, including Company of the Year. I met with Founder Alex Pope and heard the story of how it all began. From being one man with a red van and an advert in the paper to being in business for 20 years, having over 40 staff and a healthy turnover is some achievement; and they have recently opened a new warehouse in Heathrow.

The hallmarks of the company’s success are – learning from your mistakes, doing your best to remedy the situation and showing genuine care and concern for staff and clients. Alex enjoys networking and especially likes talking to other business owners in the removal and storage sector. Over the years, sharing knowledge, picking up little tips and building partnerships has proved to be extremely fruitful for him. The team is treated like a large family. There is always a fridge full of food, lunch is provided, and there are events and parties, plus the occasional skiing trip.

Alex’s tips for success include starting small; knowing your trade inside out; and continuous learning.

I loved every second of these three interviews, learning about what makes their owners tick. It is noticeable that many of their attributes and philosophies for success are similar. Whether you’re running a business, or you’re an employee, or you’re a young professional or student, I’m sure you’ll agree there are plenty of lessons we can learn from leaders like Paul Vick, Barry Bassett and Alex Pope and the way they run their firms. I’m sure we all look forward to seeing how these businesses progress in the coming months and years.

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