No Brainer Director named Warrington’s Business Man of the Year

On Friday evening, the No Brainer gang were lucky enough to attend the biennial Warrington Business Awards and enjoy an evening celebrating local talent.

After bagging New Business of the Year at the last WBA ceremony in 2016, this year was the turn of our Director, Gary Jenkins to be shortlisted, and the stakes were high!

With more than 450 people at the sold-out ceremony, there was some serious competition for Business Man of the Year, so we were ecstatic when Gary’s name was called out at the glitzy ceremony.

Here’s Gary’s debrief on the evening:

  • How did it feel to take home the WBA Business Man of the Year?

It felt surreal. I was delighted but, as with all award ceremonies, there’s literally nothing you can do when you get there on the night. The decision is already made and it’s just some words in an envelope – so you’ve just got to cross your fingers I guess.

When you’re up against some strong competition, it’s one of those things where you just don’t know how it’s going to go. My kids had already said that if I didn’t win then there’s nothing wrong with being the ‘runner-up’.

So, when my name was called out, it felt really, really good. And it was great to be there with all the team – because no successful business is a one-person operation.

  • How well do you think Warrington is performing as a location for start-up and small businesses?

Warrington is regarded nationally as a hot bed for start-ups and it’s definitely been massively supportive of us.

Also, I constantly talk about the ‘Warrington Welcome’ and how supportive the town’s business community and support organisations can be. Most people want you to succeed, they want you to do well. People have taken meetings with me when I didn’t really even have a business – I was just starting out. People like Steve Park at Warrington & Co, Gary Skentelbery at Warrington Worldwide, Gareth Dunning at the Warrington Guardian – these people are all busy people, but they made time to speak to me.

And it’s this type of support network in Warrington that’s helping businesses to grow and with the introduction of the Warrington Business Exchange, there’s even more of a platform here now. The Business Exchange gives people a ‘go to’ destination for everyone thinking about starting or growing a business through a single point. Start-ups need that funnel, they need that obvious go-to for support and advice.

I still think there’s work to do in showcasing the town as a welcome environment for small businesses to operate, and I also think there’s work to do around niche specialisms.

We’re obviously strong on logistics because of Warrington’s brilliant location. But when you look at, for example, digital marketing and digital businesses, there’s not really much there. So, it’s thinking about what sort of sectors do we want to own? Manchester is saturated with marketing agencies and digital companies. What does Warrington want be known for?

But in terms of support, it’s been fantastic. For example, the team at Warrington & Co have helped us with location scouting. There’s businesses here that want to support each other. It’s brilliant. It’s home.

  • What does a typical week look like for you?

I think because of the business we’re in, there is no typical week. If a client has a crisis, I’ll drop everything and help them. That might mean putting strategy to one side or putting time aside for campaigns etc. But in terms of a typical week, there’s so much variation to our work especially because we’ve got so many clients now!

A lot of my work is around new business and growing the company. But it’s also about making sure everyone in the team is happy and that we’re providing the right environment for our guys. It’s also about managing the nuts and bolts of running a business. It’s legal, it’s HR, it’s finances – the list goes on! But when you’ve got a team of people that you want to keep happy and motivated and focused and delivering for clients, then that adds a layer of complexity that as a business owner, takes some getting used to!

I think as long as you throw yourself into it, seek good advice and pay for great people to manage all the stuff you’re not good not at, then you’ll be alright.

And we’ve made a few mistakes along the way! Failure is inevitable in certain areas. As long as they’re not HUGE mistakes! Everyone is allowed to fail – it’s what you learn from it that mattes. 

  • What does the future look like for No Brainer?

We have a very clear plan in terms of where we want to go with the business. We are already ahead of that plan. That’s taken a lot of hard work.

I think the key for us is to grow but grow in the right way. We’ll never sacrifice or compromise our values in terms of how we serve our clients. Our plan is to grow – of course! – but we never want to lose that commitment to clients and those quality standards we set ourselves in everything we do. We never want to lose that personal commitment that we have to really know all of our clients.

We don’t just want to win business and make as much money as we can. We want to build long-term relationships. That’s why one of our biggest success metrics is client retention.

We want to be a good-sized business, making a good amount of money with satisfied clients and happy staff.

Winning this award is recognition that we must be doing a decent job! I can’t believe the amount of people that have got in touch congratulating me from old jobs but also people I don’t know, which is great!

And while all that is great, I can’t take all the glory! I share this award with our families and the fantastic No Brainer team without whom I couldn’t do what we’re doing.

It’s a real pleasure to work with some of my best friends every day and you definitely don’t achieve anything like this without amazing people by your side.

Picture of Lee Cullen

Lee Cullen

Having worked in-house and agency-side, I have almost 15 years’ experience working in various marketing and communications roles. With an AMEC gold certificate in measurement and evaluation so I’m always looking to show outcomes and prove the impact of our work.

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