Getting to Know You: Richard Close, CEO at Briggs Equipment

What do you currently do?
Since 2005, I have been the CEO at Briggs Equipment.  During this time, I have turned the company around from a loss-making organisation to a multi-million pound profit generator, and changed the business model from new unit sales distributor to national logistics and maintenance provider, resulting in building margins with less capital requirements. 
What is your inspiration in business?
I have a deep-seated aspiration to provide an environment where people can better themselves, and this is my inspiration in business.
To discover hidden talent and allow it to flourish, develop and excel is a real driver for me.  Instilling self-confidence so that employees can develop in a way they’d have never thought possible.  
Who do you admire?
I admire Herb Kelleher, former CEO of South West Airlines in the US.  He reportedly created the concept that later became Southwest Airlines on a cocktail napkin in a Texas restaurant.   His business was based on a low-cost model and empowering people – created an efficient structure.  I also admire Richard Branson for breaking the mold.  
Looking back, are there things you might have done differently?
If I could have my time again I would definitely gone to university and sought to achieve more academically.  I know now that I didn’t realise my academic potential.
In business, I think there have been times in the past where I’ve been hesitant on to make decisions.   I have made the right decision in the end but could have done it quicker.  When it has come to staffing decisions and whether we have the right people in place for the job, I have developed a formula which has stood me in good stead; focusfocusing on energy and values rather than competence and experience.
I would rather take someone with energy and the right values any day and the competence and experience can be worked on, but it doesn’t work the other way around.
What defines your way of doing business?
Challenging the status quo all the time – and initiating business change and success through people.  We’re in the service industry because we have good people.  I also strictly adhere to red line ethics – I won’t cross that line no matter what.
I have never seen any reason to break ethical rules; business success and profitability can be achieved by following good ethics.  Being short-termist may generate profit earlier but won’t work long-term when looking to sustain business growth.  I think a good example of this is the bankers’ bonuses issue.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Live your dream.  Have a dream and strive to fulfill it no matter how crazy or far out it may seem.  I strongly believe if you have a dream you will be successful.
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