'Invest in your future but also take time out'
Q&A: Eamon Donnelly
Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given?
A: Recruit A star people, pay A star wages, but expect A star results.
Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?
A: Understand specifically what your value proposition is and how that adds value. Invest in your future and remember to take time out. You must get a balance between work and downtime.
Q: What was your best business decision?
A: The best thing I have ever done is be honest with who I am and surround myself with capable people who fit the company culture. The recent investment from BGF has given us a different perspective through more structure at board level, which has really challenged our thinking.
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Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?
A: Probably lots more travel. I'd like to coach and mentor our fledgling entrepreneurs on how they can become even more successful. SMEs are the future of our economy - let's continue to develop more new businesses within Northern Ireland.
Q: What was your last holiday and where are you going to next?
A: My wife and I love to travel and have been blessed to see many continents. Our last holiday was to Barbados and New York. We are going to New Zealand for our next break.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests?
A: Travel, history, culture and sports. I'm a motorsport fanatic and love the outdoors.
Q: What is your favourite sport and team?
A: I really enjoy most sports. I follow my local and county GAA team and I'm an avid Manchester United Supporter.
Q: And have you ever played any sports?
A: I played Gaelic in my teenage years.
Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?
A: Will It Make the Boat Go Faster, by Ben Hunt Davies and Harriot Beveridge. It is an inspiring read about becoming better in business.
Q: How would you describe your early life?
A: Very fulfilling and happy. We spent the first 16 years of our life in a social housing estate in Newbridge, where I grew up as a country boy and the eldest of four. My parents taught us to respect and care for each other as a family, respect our faith and to always have a positive outlook on life.
Q: Have you any economic predictions?
A: There is currently a lot of volatility. However, I believe in business. We must be commercial, perceptive and agile with our strategic direction.
Q: How would you assess your time in business with your company Uform?
A: I have been in the sector for 37 years and with Uform 26 of those. It's a challenging and competitive marketplace where we all need to be on top of our game in all areas of the business. Through continued investment across the organisation, and with strong leadership, we have and will continue to develop our people. It's been wonderful to see the exceptional growth of the group, where we now employ 310 people. Last year's revenue was £40m and we have a clear strategic plan in place to deliver a further 50% growth over the next four years.
Q: How do you sum up working in the sector?
A: Exceptionally happy, fulfilling and rewarding. The sector is driven by real people with shared values who are self-made entrepreneurs. Consumer tastes and choices are more far arching than ever with changing designs, colours and trends, but there lies the challenge and reward.