In the Dock
Meet Gareth Gray, TILEMASTER area sales manager (flooring) for the North, Midlands, Scotland and Ireland
Did you ever get into trouble at school and, if so, why?
In my first year at secondary school I got tied up in the bus, with my tie, to the hand-hold railings. I continued this tradition when I was older, to newbie first years, and they couldn’t get off the bus. Boy, did I get into trouble!
What was your first part-time job?
Working on a building site as a labourer in between school holidays – it was an eye-opening experience, as my friend and I were made to do everything no one else wanted to do. I remember taking a ‘long stand’ to the boss!
What did you spend your first pay cheque on?
It was taken off me by my mother, who gladly took it after years of not contributing.
What was your first full-time job?
Working for my dad as a sub-agent in the carpet industry.
What was the best piece of advice you have been given?
From a very early age my parents were keen to drill into me ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ and it did stick with me to be more open minded, especially with people.
What was your worst business mistake?
I once took it upon myself to order in a substantial amount of stock because I thought I was getting a good deal from a supplier. It turned out that our main buyer had struck a better deal and price, so I was left with a lot of stock that I had to shift at smaller margins, which the powers that be weren’t very happy with. Certainly put that one down to experience!
What was your greatest business achievement?
Started a depot in Liverpool from scratch, in the flooring industry. It developed into a very profitable concern within nine months, from a standing start.
What car do your drive today and what does it say about you?
I currently drive a BMW 520, which is my Tilemaster company car. It’s very spacious and for good for long journeys.
If you could have invented any product, what would it have been?
It probably would have been Facebook – I don’t use it but Mark Zuckerberg has done well from it.
What do you most like about the flooring industry?
The wide range of people I come across and the relationships and friendships that I’ve built throughout the industry over the years.
What do you least like about the flooring industry?
Sometimes seeing a lack of training in terms of floor preparation.
Name one change you would make to the industry
More training in the flooring industry, with an emphasis on sub-floor preparation.
Which company in the flooring industry, other than your own, do you most admire and why?
It would have to be Polyflor because they offer great products and they’re great people, with a brilliant company ethos. They do what they do well.
Where should we have a flooring trade show and why?
If there was one in the Midlands it would cater for everyone.
Which single possession would you rescue if your house caught fire?
Besides my wife Suzanne and my son Alfie, it would have to be my framed match ticket and programme for the 2005 FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham. As a Liverpool supporter and winners on the day, it has pride of place in the downstairs toilet - the only place I was allowed to put it.
Do you have any pets?
No, we don’t currently.
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I love my hockey and I’m still actively playing when I can. Also enjoy golf and football.
How do you relax?
The best way for me is with my family and I love going out with friends.
What is your favourite tipple?
A really, really good glass of chilled white, like a Chablis.
How many times a year do you take a holiday and what is your favourite destination?
We try to get away twice a year and my favourite destination would have to be the USA. I think New York is a great place to go.
What is your idea of heaven?
As simple as being on holiday with the family.
What is your idea of hell?
Standing in queues is hell for me, especially when you land after a flight and have to queue and wait for ages.
Which one record and book would you take to a desert island?
The Stone Roses Collection and the book would be an autobiography which I haven’t yet read.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Robert De Niro, as he would be a fascinating guy to speak to about some of the experiences he’s had in his acting career.
If you could be anyone living or dead, fictional or real who would it be?
George Best – I think it would have been great to have his footballing talent, though maybe not all of the rest!
Choose five words that describe yourself.
Ambitious, caring, excitable, generous and adventurous.
No, I can honestly say that I don’t regret anything. I make decisions and then stand by them.
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
To travel and see a lot more of the world that I haven’t yet seen.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
When we moved house as a family, and a few weeks later after a Saturday night out I got into a taxi and ended up at the house we had lived in. The new residents who bought from us weren’t too amused when I was trying the use a key to get in and ringing the doorbell at 2am in the morning. What can I say!
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
The greatest job ever for me would be as a professional golfer, travelling the world and getting paid to play golf.
Gareth Gray with his wife, Suzanne, and son, Alfie