Mark O’Sullivan based in Bedfordshire is a Director and General Manager of Kensington Balustrade Systems. During an interview with IIBN mark in his own words said we are the UKs finest architectural metalwork components suppliers, we are wholesalers to balustrading, staircase and metalwork companies throughout the UK and Europe. Our components including 24Carot gold, Swarovski crystal, bronze and brass balusters, as well as stainless steel, aluminium and mild steel.

You can visit the Kensington Balustrade Systems website here.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Oversee budgets, marketing, HR and product development.

What are your biggest challenges?

Forecasting budgets, ensuring a smooth transition from Jan 2021 with suppliers from 9 different countries around the world.

How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?

We have taken time to diversify our customer portfolio, which seems to be working so far.

Tell us something interesting about the business.

We have supplied balusters for Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Sir Bobby Robson, Carol Vorderman and many of the finest houses in London and throughout, not bad for a small family business started in just 1980.

Tell us the about the biggest risk you have taken in business. 

The purchase of 2 extra warehouses in 2009 when times were tough.

Tell us about the worst day you’ve had since you started in business. 

Forget to book fx rate for a large shipment, when it came time to pay the bill, I got a shock as things hadn’t moved in my favour.

If you were starting your career again, what would you do differently?

Listen to my IT and accountancy teachers/lectures, these are 2 skills vital in any business.

How can IIBN members help your business?

In any way they can, sometimes it’s not the obvious things that can improve the business. I’ll always listen to any idea.

How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

There’s definitely going to be less construction going on, with less shops, stores and malls being opened. Unfortunately, this all means less stairs and handrails being needed, saying that we are. Presently busier than we have ever been.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

To me now success is 10% growth p/a, what drives me to succeed is mostly “fear of Failure”. It definitely gets me out of bed in the morning, as whenever you lose a day, you’ll never get it back.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

The harder you work the luckier you get, is very true.  Also do the hardest -most feared thing, first in the morning then the rest of your day gets easier. Was always told to buy what appreciates and rent what depreciates by many.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Mainly keeping figures the same even in a pandemic, developing my staff so I can have time off.

What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?

I always been taught that after a recession its always the companies that are ready and prepared when they come out the other side, are the ones that will gain most. We are also looking to purchase another warehouse in Jan 2021 as we have many new additions for homeowners coming into stock especially from House of Forging in the USA.

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