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Managing Director Simon Francis on 30 Years at ESE

Simon Francis

This month one of our directors, Simon Francis, is celebrating his 30th work anniversary at the company. He took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and answer a few questions about working at ESE Direct.

What was your job when you first joined the company?

“I started in the warehouse checking stock, loading lorries etc., then I moved to deliveries, order processing, sales and then project estimating / management before becoming MD in late 1999.”

How has ESE Direct changed since you have been here?

“When my father started the business in 1975 it was a shelving and racking design, supply and installation business, then he diversified into office / industrial partitioning and mezzanine floors.”

In 1984 The year Simon joined ESE started selling products direct (without installation) by mail order and locally.

In 1999 The year Simon’s father retired ESE created their first ecommerce website having already had a basic website since 1997.

In 2010 ESE created and launched their own large almost 400 page mail order catalogue, an all-new advanced ecommerce site and an e-catalogue.

Whilst a lot of the original team have now retired there are still five of the team with 15-35 years, two more with 12 years and three with 5+ years’ service. ESE Direct has grown from a team of just twelve to almost thirty today and their customer base has grown Six-Fold in the last four years.

What has been you proudest moment at ESE Direct?

“I would say probably my proudest moment is a very long one, I can’t begin to express how proud I am of the people that work with us, without their dedication over the years we would not have been anywhere near as successful as we are today.”

What are your plans for the future of ESE Direct?

“We have really big plans for ESE, last year we secured a senior team to manage our impressive growth and help develop new ideas to improve customer service, increase buying power and brand awareness”.

ESE have just increased their office space by almost 20% to allow for future growth and their warehouse space by 40% to enable them to improve lead times and prices on core products. ESE Direct are continually reviewing every facet of the business to ensure our rapid growth does not affect the service we provide to our customers.

How will you be celebrating this great landmark?

“I don’t really have any plans as it will just be another anniversary, like birthdays you get to a “certain age” (I have a milestone birthday this year as well) and you try to forget about them, although for the ESE 40th Anniversary next year I am sure we will be doing something.”

Are there any funny stories you can tell us?

There were a couple that stuck out for Simon, and sadly they are both from Stuart, another of ESE Direct’s longest serving team members:

“Six cakes” - Stuart getting his words in a muddle at the cake shop on his birthday and coming back with a very red face when he asked the shop lady for something other than “Six cakes”.
“Could you repeat that please?” - Stuart was asked to call “Ron Boy down the Market”! about an enquiry for shelving, when he rang the number and asked for Ron he got an embarrassing silence as they had no-one by that name. It turned out that the message had been translated into Norfolk dialect and should have actually been to ring “Lawnboy of Downham Market” one of our customers!

The best outcome for a customer where ESE Direct went that extra mile?

Lady Reay of Whittington Hall - Lady Reay had to have some leisure matting in place to give a safe surface for a children’s event. The factory was not able to despatch the flooring in time, so we made very special arrangements to meet the delivery requirements.
Alex our Purchasing Manager finished work in Norwich and drove to the factory in Essex to collect the matting after hours. He then dropped the goods at Neville our van driver’s house. Neville then set off really early to get from Norfolk to Lancashire in time for the matting to be fitted in the morning ready for the children’s event. Lady Reay was so pleased she invited Neville to stay for breakfast with them before travelling back.
Nick Horn - Mr Horn works irregular shift patterns and needed an out of hours delivery which is not available from our carriers. In order to meet his needs Neville our van driver waited at our warehouse for the goods to arrive from the factory in Telford. We loaded the van and Neville (and another team member as the goods where heavy) to deliver the goods to the customers address in Newmarket after hours.

With ESE Direct celebrating its 40th birthday next year in 2015 we are looking forward to seeing the business evolve and grow as it has with all of our customers continued support over the last 39 years.

Photograph of Simon

Author Bio -

Managing Director, 1999-2015.