Posted by: Admin | August 28, 2010

The Saturday Interview – 9

The spectre of redundancy stalks many of us in these straightened times. It’s a difficult prospect for those in their thirties and forties with families to support, but more mature workers have the added worry that their age will count against them in the bun fight for available re-employment.

Some, however, finding themselves in the fortunate position of having paid off their mortgages and off-loaded their children (in the nicest possible way!), take the opportunity to realise long-held ambitions such as starting up their own businesses. This is what happened to this week’s interviewee, Chris.

“I’d been a service engineer for 30 years,” Chris tells me when we meet. He’s had to have surgery for a hip problem that he believed was caused by long hours spent in the car. “My body was starting to protest.”

So when the opportunity came to take voluntary redundancy, he jumped at the chance to turn his part-time business into a full-time venture. Inspired by his photographer son, Dan, and supported by Michelle, his wife of 33 years, Chris took the leap to position Prophoto Solutions in the competitive photography products market. I ask him what motivated him to take the plunge into self-employment.

“I’m not in it for the Porsche,” he says, “but for the pleasure of creating a quality end product.” Is that a result of maturity? I ask him.

“I don’t know. I think you realise you don’t have to put up with things when you’re older. And you don’t suffer fools gladly.”

Prophoto Solutions - developing a niche product

Prophoto Solutions supplies photographic products to professional photographers. I ask about the company’s USP.

“Quality and personal service. We’re not anonymous like the bigger companies. We’re able to listen to our customers and work with them to develop a bespoke service.”

Chris is clearly motivated by a passion for image production and enjoys making relationships with his customers. Ultimately, he hopes that his son will join him in the business. “Dan was the catalyst for all this,” he tells me, “and I’m looking forward to bringing him on board.”

This, I suspect, is a large part of Chris’ motivation in setting up the business – creating something to pass onto his son is clearly important to him. The pair are close and both like the idea of creating a family business.

For Chris redundancy has proved to be an opportunity rather than a disaster, an opportunity that he embraces with enthusiasm. Age holds no fears for him: in fact, he tells me, he had his “mid-life crisis” at 40 when he went out to have a nipple pierced. Gulp. Perhaps, having railed against turning 40, he doesn’t have the energy to fight 50, though he does, I trust, have a nipple going spare!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Chris, and I look forward to seeing you on project50 in the future!

You can see a sample of Prophoto Solutions beautiful products in their e-brochure.

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