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Local Business Interview

As Radcliffe Glass & Windows celebrate 40 years, we interview Managing Director, Clive Powers for a brief insight into the secret of success for this thriving local business.

Can you tell us what you know about how and when the business started all those years ago?

“Radcliffe Glass was established in Mellor Street, Radcliffe in 1979. The firm began by doing simple glazing work and cutting glass to size. In 1985 the firm became the first double- glazing unit manufacturer in the area. With little competition, the business flourished and a move to Lodge Brow followed in 1992.“

When and what initially led you to join the business?

“In 2001 after very much deliberation my wife and I bought Radcliffe Glass along with my sister and brother in law who had worked there since 1987. I had a very successful career in Sales with General Electric, so it was a huge risk to buy a business which had certainly seen its best years and now had much more competition. It was, however, a risk Kelly and I were willing to take. On becoming the new owners, we immediately changed the trading name to Radcliffe Glass and Windows to mark our wider ambitions.”

An aerial view of the Lodge Brow premises in 1992, and a local advert from decades ago!

 

What were your responsibilities at the start of your role compared to the responsibilities you have now and did you envisage the business growth that you’ve achieved?

“Initially I had to wear many hats, as you usually do with a growing and ambitious business. I had to take large deliveries of glass, cut glass, manufacture double glazed units, sales visits, process quotes, type, order, answer the phone, the list was endless! It was often a 16-hour day, which although punishing went in the blink of an eye. I remember in the first two weeks we only invoiced £220, with our overheads being quadruple that. It was a very stressful time, with lots of pressure to perform. Now in comparison I still do long hours, as we are continually growing and evolving, however, I do very little manual work (though still pitch in if required). My role is more strategic for business needs and growth aspirations. Kelly and I are now the sole owners of Radcliffe Glass & Windows having purchased my sister’s and brother in law’s shares 12 years ago. Although ambitious from the very start I would never have imagined that the company could grow 2,439% in 18 years with further growth on the horizon.”

Through the ups and downs, what do you think has been your biggest challenge and also the biggest accomplishment in the business since your start?

“The biggest challenge was to continue trading throughout the last recession. There is nothing that focuses the mind more in business than that. The biggest accomplishment initially was participating in 10KSB with Goldman Sachs and Manchester Metropolitan University, where I obtained my entrepreneurship. This, however, was eclipsed when I was privileged to be chosen out of 1000’s of other entrepreneurs who had participated in the 10KSB to participate in The Ambassador Programme at Oxford University. It has been a life-changing experience and taught me so much about business, as I have literally learnt from the best and made lifelong friends who shared the unique experience.”

To what do you attribute your success?

“Determination, positivity and ambition.”

What is your favourite part about your job? What excites you most?

“I enjoy Radcliffe Glass & Windows being the market leaders in our Industry and always staying one step ahead of the competition, both locally and nationally. There are so many exciting things happening right now, with the new products, new showroom and culture being developed within the business. What excites me? Working with the Radcliffe Glass & Windows team and knowing that we are all pushing in the same direction. We all love winning business and delighting our customers with the installations we do. Some of the work we do is lifestyle changing and it gives a real sense of satisfaction for the team and I.”

You need to have a great work ethic to succeed in any business, so which other CEO has inspired you, or been a business role model?

“I am not really into following other business leaders but from the perspective of innovation, quality and branding I would have to say, Steve Jobs. He was something else and not only improved a product but changed our everyday lives through technology and design.”

What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received?

“Very cliché but,‘work smarter not harder’.”

Where do you expect the business to be in the next 10 years? In what ways do you expect to grow?

“I believe Radcliffe Glass & Windows will be the largest home improvement company in our sector in the North West region. We have ambitious plans to develop the land we own by building a super showroom site which will give us the opportunity to showcase more products. We are already expanding the area we service and have already made key strategic partnerships with other market-leading companies to bring our customers the latest and most exclusive products at competitive prices. These partnerships are not entered into lightly by either party but they have already proven to be successful and given Radcliffe Glass & Windows an edge over the competition with truly bespoke products such as Origin Aluminium, Evolution Timber Alternative windows, SpitfireDoors and P22 products to name but a few.”

If you had one piece of advice for someone starting out in business, what would it be?

“Keep overheads as low as possible, for as long as you can by doing as much as you can yourself. This will give you a complete insight into the business from the ground up and make you understand and appreciate what your team does with you as you grow your company together. It will also give you more cash reserves if ever there is a downturn in the economy or sales.“

 

 

 

Quick Fire Q&A…

Q: Favourite place to eat? (in the Bury borough)

A: Crowded House

Q: Favourite dish?

A: Homemade Lasagne

Q: Describe yourself in 3 words

A: Positive, hardworking and perfectionist.

Q: Favourite holiday destination & why?

A: Greece, love the food, history and the culture.

Q: Favourite sportsperson?

A: Roberto Duran

Q: What is one item you could NEVER live without?

A: Mobile Phone!

Q: What is better: certificates or experience?

A: Experience without a doubt.

Q: Favourite car that you’ve owned?

A: My Renault 5 GT Turbo, it cost a fortune to Insure, more than the cost of the car itself but it was worth every penny!

Q: Your dream car?

A: I’ve worked very hard over the years and still do so, I treated myself and already have it.

Q; Dragons Den or The Apprentice?

A: Dragons Den, as it has real entrepreneurs putting it all on the line.

Q: How many windows are there in Radcliffe!?

A: Wow! Now that’s an interesting question. If I had to guess, around 50,000?? Whatever the number we’ve probably done a quarter – which means there are plenty more that we can update with the latest style, energy efficient and secure windows available!

 

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Manchester,
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