Me & My Job: Ole Valentin, director, Maingate

Ole Valentin, director, Maingate. Image: Maingate
Ole Valentin, director, Maingate. Image: Maingate

How did you get started? I had a career in sporting goods and I was at a trade fair in Cologne. I crossed the hall to the gardening side of the show and got excited when I came across a product that would be the answer to my prayers - a good-quality wheelbarrow. I decided to set up my own business so I negotiated the sales rights to the barrow and two months later I had my own business.

What does your typical day involve? A lot of phone calls and correspondence by email. There is product development and liaising with our factories too. We operate a close-knit alliance with one Dutch and one German company because we occupy a Chinese factory together and we make the same products across Europe.

What is the best part of your job? Seeing the success of the products. I take delight home with me when good things have been happening all day. The attention of garden centre buyers is pulled in so many directions, it is very humbling when so many of them choose to spend time with you.

And the worst? Keeping cash turning because there is an ever-growing need for working capital and we prefer not to borrow huge amounts from banks or equity partners.

What piece of kit can you not do without? My laptop is the one companion from whom I can never part.

How do you relax? I travel. We have a daughter in Australia and as our sons have taken over more and more functions in the business we can get away for longer and longer, so this year we went away for six weeks.

What does the future hold? Very considerable expansion possibilities for Maingate. The challenge is to structure that growth correctly.

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