Healthy Bodies........Healthy Mind.......Healthy Company
A couple of months ago Aaron, our Works Manager, told me he wanted to lose weight. Now Aaron was looking slightly rotund, I had the middle aged spread (I am 51 you know) and decided to use Aaron's desire to drop some pounds as an incentive. So I bet Aaron £20 that I could lose more weight than him by the beginning of August.
Naturally we weighed ourselves on our work scales, Aaron weighing in at 99kgs and myself at 66kgs.
Aaron joined a traditional gym, running machines cross trainers and weights etc, whereas I decided that as I trained in May Thai Boxing for 20 odd years, a traditional gym would bore me, so I joined a fitness gym that concentrates on boxing and martial art exercises.
Alongside our renewed enthusiasm for exercise, we have both changed our eating habits at lunchtime and are making healthier choices in our decisions when buying lunch.
Now bearing all this health kick enthusiasm in mind, the impact on ourselves as individuals is very pleasing, we both feel fitter and stronger. The impact this has on the business can only be a good thing, healthier employee's in mind and body lead to better performance and productivity.
I know some larger companies have gyms or offer gym membership asincentives to their employees, health and well-being is something that employers look at in order to keep the workforce fit and healthy for obvious reasons.
Should companies do more to encourage health and well being? Personally I can only see it as a good thing, give people a choice, if they make healthier decisions then surely its a win win situation for both employees and employers.
To date Aaron has lost a stone in weight, I have lost just over half a stone......... let's see where this journey takes us. I'd love to hear what you, or your company do to encourage health and wellbeing.
Celebrating our 13th Year
March 24th 2004 the day that my dream of owning and running a business became a reality.
From starting out with a borrowed van, and a small office to work from, running around the country buying Catalytic Converters, waiting months for a bank loan, that I never used, we are now miles away from where we started. Within four years of starting out, I applied for a commercial mortgage and moved the company to its current location, took on my first full time employee and set out to build upon what had already been achieved, even as we headed into a recession.
Throughout this time there has been many ups and downs, testing times, times that have made me think is it all worth it? Being a small business owner is hard, but rewarding. I do believe that it’s how we deal with the lows that forge our way forward, no matter how many times in the 13 years of business I’ve had that ‘is it all worth it’ thought I have never sought to give up, this business or mistress as my wife used to call it, is my quite simply what I do.
re-Mark-it now has 5 full time team members, providing local jobs for local people, two of those have a combination of 13 years employment with us, something of which I am extremely proud, having watched them develop and mature into people that are a pleasure to have around. On the day of our birthday an ex-employee who’d been with us for 3 years, popped in to see us on his day off. I cannot express how chuffed I was that he’d taken the time to come and say hello, but also to hear how well he’s getting on and also that he’d taken skills and ethics he’d learnt whilst with us into his current workplace, which isn’t in our industry.
I truly believe that when you join re-Mark-it, you join a family, one that sometimes enjoys good times as well as bad, one that sometimes like all families fall out, but in the end we stay strong in our belief that we are a good company, we are all in it together, and this also includes our customers, ones that over the years have supported us with their custom and that will spend a couple of minutes chatting, no matter how busy we all are.
So I would like to thank all of you that have passed through our gates over the years, without any of you my dream would not be a reality.
A CLEANER INDUSTRY BUT THE SAME PERCEPTIONS
Four years ago, the government pushed through new legislation within our Industry and the Scrap
Metal Dealers Act 1965, became The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.
Four years. How time flies.
The new act requires Scrap Metal Dealers/Merchants to take the relevant ID, pretty much the same way as banks require you to provide identification when opening an account. As before we have to register with our local council, except this time. we pay for the privilege. Cash payments were made illegal, and we now pay electronically or by cheque.
In order to gain registration as a Scrap Metal Dealer, we also have to provide a disclosure Scotland certificate, which again is at our cost, but this provides proof that we are a 'fit and proper’ person and therefore are cleared to be a Scrap Metal Dealer. Criminal convictions permitting, well some convictions, but that's for another blog perhaps.
I have no problem with the legislation changes, after all as a legitimate business, who are compliant, most of the changes were welcomed. Scrap Metal theft has no doubt become less prevalent. But it still goes on, I have no doubt that unregistered businesses still exist in this Industry, and thieves will always find an outlet for their ill gotten gains. However on the whole the metal recycling industry is a better Industry for it. The government can claim a victory with its war on metal thieves.
The one problem I personally still have, is that perceptions of our industry still haven't changed much. We are not a fashionable industry, we don’t sit around in offices on bean bags, growing beards and wearing shoes without socks. We are still viewed by some as the ‘Steptoe and Son’, ‘gangster’ type industry, TV and film still portray the stereotypical image many people have of us. Yet the industry has undergone massive changes in this last four years, and we at re-Mark-it are passionate about this industry. To me it is a ‘sexy’ industry, we have worked hard to change perceptions, and I know others have too.
The contribution the Scrap Metal Industry makes to society is huge, in terms of employment, energy savings, and last but not least financially, more so than a lot of the ‘techie' fashionable Industries that are out there.
Scrap Metal Recycler's are key contributors to the business world, and we should be treated with the respect we deserve.
Happy New Year
Welcome to 2017, aptly the Chinese year of the Rooster.
The year our chickens come home to roost?
As previously outlined in my Christmas message, we have Brexit, and Donald Trump entering the White House. Many things have been said, written and reported through various media channels and depending upon who you listen too, we will be either doomed or much better off.
As I write this the Federation of Small Business are reporting that small business confidence has risen (unless you are in the far north), Supermarkets and other retailers are reporting an increase in like for like sales for December. However the impact of the devaluation of sterling still remains uncertain, leading to warnings that higher prices are on the horizon as import costs rise. All these things I am sure will impact in some way on us personally and as businesses.
So what can we do as a business to ensure we stay competitive?
One thing I have learnt over the years is that whilst keeping an eye on markets and competitors is
necessary, we also need to concentrate on ourselves and our businesses. Far too many people
are worried about what everyone else is doing. Why?
Focus on yourselves, your business, take the time to concentrate on what you do best.
If you are too busy concentrating on others around you, how can you and your business thrive?
Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe your business is better than your competitors?
Concentrate on these things, not what your competitors are doing, yes, be aware of the market place and what your competition is doing, but ultimately concentrate on what you do best. None of us are entitled to anything, we have to earn things, not just money for material things, but for healthy relationships, with our customers, our workers, our loved ones. It all takes work, hard work!
So for 2017 bring your own chickens home to roost, let's worry less about what others are doing and get back to looking after our own business, our staff, customers and our loved ones.
Mark's Christmas Message
Christmas is nearly upon us, and the end of the year is looming. Will there be a white Christmas, or do we have too many snowflakes among us already?
If 2017 doesn't go your way, will you be asking for a re-run of the year? This seems to have been a theme for 2016. Too many people among us seem to whimper when they don't get their own way, toys get thrown out of the proverbial pram! 2016 seems to have been the year of the self important, self promoting look at me type. Charity givers who give for publicity, not just because they want to help, but because they want to gain something themselves, not just a personal feeling of good.
We still have the uncertainty of 'Brexit' hanging over us, the U.S. presidential election still to hit the markets when Donald Trump is installed into the White House. The U.S looking to tighten their monetary policies, and not forgetting China's efforts to rebalance their economy.
Industrial metal prices have been interchangeable and unpredictable amid the general economic gloom, with 2017 set to carry on the trend. It is generally thought that the rebalancing and fairly robust global supply profile will continue to weigh on the Copper market.
Copper producers seem to be riding the storm, even with the prospect of low prices lasting throughout the decade. Aluminium is forecasted to make modest gains, even though it is broadly thought to be in deficit.
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding our economy etc, we will have spent a small fortune on our loved ones, and drunk and eaten until we can't move, Christmas is a time of over indulgence, the message is lost, peace and goodwill to all men. Christmas is about being thankful, we don't or rather shouldn't give presents in order to receive adulation! We should look back upon the year with pride and welcome in the New Year with a renewed vigour after the Christmas break. Stop being delicate snowflakes, take things in our stride and live for the moment.
We at re-Mark-it wish all our customers a Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Prosperous New Year, here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017. if you or anyone you know has been affected by any issues in this blog post, there is a helpline number to call 01582 665969.
Life from the eyes of an apprentice
Michael our apprentice has been with us for 7 weeks now, so I thought it would be a good idea to share his views on how he sees not only the working world so far, but what the benefits of an apprenticeship are, as he sees them.
Michael didn't like school, in fact he said it was 'boring’ he couldn't see the point of endless reading and writing and in his words 'teachers banging on for an hour' he felt he would have been better off learning life skills and things that were more practical, not algebraic formulas. Now, I can relate to some of what Michael is saying here, from my own personal experience and memories of school, obviously the education system with all the changes in the curriculum and exams hasn't really changed, as I left school 35 years ago! Although to be fair I have spreadsheets using algebra. Michael is enjoying his time here, gaining experience in the world of work, whilst the educational side of the apprenticeship he feels is more practical, working and earning money has given him a feeling of worth, and he 'feels more confident'.
He feels that since starting his apprenticeship he is gaining ‘a more realistic view of life, corning into an adult world and not being treated like a child’. He is looking forward to the independence earning his own money will bring, planning to learn to drive and enjoying the thought of buying ‘nice things for himself’.
Michael is also enjoying meeting new people, like his work colleagues, feeling part of a team and meeting customers. He feels that he is happier at work and feels he has a future now more than ever.
Of course from my point of view it’s great to hear Michael talk this way, it’s good to be able to offer a young adult the chance to gain qualifications whilst working, as I know as a more mature person the benefits that work can bring. It will fill me with a sense of pride, the day Michael tums up to work, driving his own car.
It's early days in Michaels work career, who knows if he will stay within this industry or not, however one thing I can be sure of is, if Michael completes his apprenticeship he will have 12 months or so of the world of work, the real world which will put him in a good position to move forward in life, hopefully here at re-Mark-it.
re-Mark-it will give him a good knowledge of non ferrous metals and grades, the markets and how they work, and trade and business. Whatever happens I know that Michael will never forget his time here with us, no matter what he does in the future.
Maybe we can develop our own stickers saying ‘an apprentice is for life not just for 12 months’ as I certainly would want to see our apprentice Michael develop and grow into an important member of our team.
Watch this space……………….
Walls come tumbling down
And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain.
Governments crack and systems fall cos unity is powerful.
It was too hard living in the EU, it’s been a long time coming but we know a change is gonna come.
So Merkel and Co can’t wait, she knows it’s too late as were walking on by, but don’t look back in anger we heard her say.
David Cameron decided we did him wrong, no doubt in his mind where he belonged, we didn’t make him feel our love.
Theresa May swept into No 10 promising, don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing will be alright, with Boris singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true, saying ‘this is my message to you ou ou.
So now we have to clear out our heads and get ourselves straight, it’s never too late, to make a brand new start.
Are we going to try and make this work, or will we spend our days down in the dirt?
The decision has been made, the people voted, so enjoy yourself its later than you think, enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink. Years go by as quickly as you wink.
Wether you voted in or out doesn’t matter now, it’s up to us to change that town called malice.
Working your way to the top
There has been many a thing said and written about youth unemployment. The label NEET (Not in education employment or training) has come about as a consequence of high unemployment in the under 25 age group.
When I left school we had the ‘not enough experience for jobs’ yet how are we supposed to gain experience if nobody gives us a job problem, which still stands today.
So how do we approach the problem of youth unemployment?
I have been involved with a number of educational establishments in the past and present, as it is now widely documented that business’s often complain about a lack of skills, and work ethic. We need to rethink the education system in my opinion, more and more schools and colleges are realising that vocational subjects are a good thing, and are forging links with businesses. I think I have the answer to the problem.
We need to engage on a level that the younger generation understand, to promote working in a different way. Work should now be labelled as a game, like a playstation or xbox game. You start at level 1 and gain skills throughout the levels, becoming more and more proficient, decisions you make can affect the end result of your game. Of course some will become stuck on a level, some will work out all the levels and rise to the top of the game becoming the boss. Some may even go on to develop their own game, bringing others in to help them make the game more exciting.
There are many different levels to the game, in fact it will be the longest game that has ever been played, which could indeed make the game boring, so some people will change games without completing the first or second one, but ultimately the object is to complete a game no matter how hard or easy that game is.
There are lots of games widely available, and sometimes it's a case of finding the right one, career advisers will be called game advisers, to help choose the right game, teachers will become gaming tutors and will help the youngsters develop skills to help them prior to playing a game, GCSE’s, A levels would be set to determine which game you can start off with as some games require different skill sets.
We could also communicate with text speak, hold up paddles with emojis on, depicting our feelings towards their work.
So, NEETS its time to rise up, work is your Call of Duty!!
2016 The Year of The Life/Business Coach
Firstly may I wish you all a happy and healthy new year, I know this is late, but the beginning of the year is always a busy time for us and with recent market events has made blogging take a step back.
Perhaps if I employed a Life coach or Business coach I would’ve been writing this sooner. Now there’s a life lesson learned.
It seems to me that it has become fashionable to promote life/business coach services and provide a service to a business or business person that will guarantee to make them more money! Of course this service is not given to you for free, and we all need to speculate to accumulate as the old saying goes right?
I do not have a problem with enterprise what I do have a problem with is that I see people promoting themselves as some sort of coach as young as in their 20’s!
Where does the life experience come from? If leaving education at between 17-22 years old, where is the experience to advise people on life or how to run a business? Maybe they read a self-help book?
I come across such people and those I have met are indeed likeable and can talk the talk very well, in fact if they were selling merchandise, would probably do very well.
It also seems to me and I would love to be corrected, but having talked to and read some things that shall we say more experienced life/business coaches have said, it’s basically common sense stuff.
So what do we do when life or business (in my book it’s the same as business is life) throws us a curveball? Do you ‘buy into’ the life coach and ‘think outside the box’ do you ‘take it to the next level’ and give a 110% ‘taking it offline’? Do you transform yourself, your business by accelerating new products or offers thus enhancing your sales and service experience, improving your business, life experience and profitability? Will this put you in a better position in a fragmented and competitive market place?
The answer of course is no, mainly because let’s face it this gobbledygook speak doesn't make you a profit, it makes someone else a profit.
There are of course some very good people out there that can help and advise you both in life and business, people with vast amounts of experience who can help motivate and mentor, and I know if I were to go down this route I would want someone who's been there and got the t-shirt.
Its common sense, ‘eat a pig for breakfast’, yes get those unwanted jobs out of the way first thing, see its common sense, no need for idioms ‘think inside the box’ and ‘action that thought’, what could be simpler.
Who knows maybe, just maybe, someday I may feel the need for someone to teach me this stuff, but then again “Someday is not a day of the Week”. We need to stop these idioms, talk sensibly, say it as it is (not another one) or we could turn into a nation of David Brent’s, as much as I loved the Office, we cannot end up going to meetings discussing the blue sky scenario, the reality is if you want to succeed then hard work, common sense and a bit of luck will see you through. So before you take on a 23/24 year old life/business coach just remember this, “there is no I in team, but there’s also no “I” in smug coach, either. But there’s four in “platitude-quoting Idiot”.
Does Bullshit Really Baffle Brains?
Picture the scene, you come across another person in business, you ask what they do and spend the next however many minutes listening to ‘waffle'. Why?
Within certain industries there seems to be a lot of people who as the youth would say ‘chat shit’ Then don’t get me started on those failed actor types that will continually play to any audience going, attend every event and go to the opening of an envelope as long as its free!
I recently asked a new business owner about their new venture, to have an explanation which consisted of tech speak and drivel, but they had this great ability to make it sound really important, their dilithium crystals and flux capacitors were in full swing. Suffice to say within 2 minutes I’d glazed over. Then we have those that have the most amazing lives, that drive from their castles with the sweetest looking family and sing in the green hills.
Business as in general life isn't as perfect as some like to make out.
Where did all this go wrong? Why do some feel the need to create smokescreens thinking it will serve them well in life, let alone business? Personally I prefer the straight talking, tell it how it is business person.
We all know the advert for Ronseal ‘it does what is says on the tin’ but sadly maybe its a society thing in general, with jealousy and the wanting to appear better than others being at the forefront of peoples minds. I have talked in a previous blog of perceptions and the way in which people perceive this industry, but I do believe I have always said it how it is.
I believe that we don’t need to create smokescreens, or try to explain our business activities in a way which makes us sound like we have just stepped off a politicians podium, or off the stage at her majesties theatre. Plain talking speak will win over, as anyone with any intelligence will see through the bullshit. Sooner or later people will see through the smoke and then where does that leave you?
In my mind, if you cannot give straight answers, or over exaggerate aspects of your working and indeed home life, then how can you be trusted in business?
I constantly take phone calls in the office and interrupt sales patter to ask ‘what is it you want to sell me’? If I listen to one more caller telling me they are trying to help my business, when really all they are trying to do is sell me their wares, I am sure my head will explode!
There are so many people out there that pretend they are doing you a favour, when really all they are doing is promoting themselves and or their business. Quite plain and simply I am a Scrap Metal man, I buy other peoples rubbish and make it a saleable product, that is the top and bottom of it, yes there is a bit more too it than that, but too often we see or hear of job vacancies for things like street collection operatives, who back in the day are bin men, why?!
Lets get back to good old fashioned plain talking, no fluffed up versions, sales people who just try to sell their goods rather than try and convince you how they are doing you a favour. Don’t ring my office and the first thing you say is ‘hello how are you today’ when I do not know you and have never spoken to you before. Don’t try and be something you are not, to quote a line from a song I listened to on my way to work the other day ‘they call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie’ so just be yourself don’t try and bamboozle me with self promoting bullshit, it simply will not work on this brain!
The Metals Recycling Industry myths and facts
The perception of the scrap metal recycling industry has mainly always been a negative one, and indeed there are some in this industry that have not helped with people's perceptions.
Media, Television and Film have portrayed workers in this industry to be gangsters and villains who to quote a certain TV commercial "can make things disappear". It is a well known fact that the late Charlie Richardson a well known London Gang Boss and enemy of the Kray twins, was a scrap metal merchant.
During my time as a young trader I can recall meeting as some would say "dodgy characters" but on the other hand some really good characters, so as in all walks of life some good and some bad.
Not everyone in this business has the Soprano's attitude of "were in the waste business".
The UK's ferrous and non ferrous recycling industry employs a total of around 8000 people and generates roughly 5.6 billion pounds a year and recycles over 400 million tonnes a month. We at re-Mark-it contribute to an industry which currently employs more people and contributes more value to the economy than the motor and aerospace industry combined.
Trading with metal is made possible by the London Metal Exchange. The LME is the metals industry equivalent of the stock market and is established as the world centre of industrial metal trade. It is central to the price discovery, the LME also provides members with future contracts from 3-123 months, allowing traders to sell for market prices on the day of sale instead of the day of the metal exchange. Spot contracts, where metals are sold and collected instantly or hedging are also offered. The LME establishes trade prices, which represent supply and demand for individual base metals using a method which no other exchange in Europe uses, Open Cry Trading. Twice a day, morning and afternoon official and unofficial settlement prices are determined by the last offer price before a bell is sounded to mark the end of the trading period. The second half of the morning period is key to the settling of official exchange rates, the rates from which every metal purchasing or recycling facility in the country sets their daily prices.
So the perception of some gangster/Villain who hides bodies in cars, robs and steals metals is now an old one, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but as already stated not everyone in this industry are criminals, long gone are the days of the shady character that the media love to portray.
We at re-Mark-it promote the friendly side of this industry, the importance in energy saving from recycling and the important part we play within it. We are licensed by the council and the environment agency, having strict guidelines and regulations we must adhere to.
Yet after all this,my industry is often overlooked and is not seen as a so called "fashionable business" we are a means to an end for some and are okay if you want us to pay for your services.
Recently I was contacted by a local insurance company who whilst quoting for my business then set about canvassing others to insure themselves against metal theft, something which I found very annoying.
One thing I have learnt from my time in this industry is that proper scrap metal men would not be that cutthroat, mainly what you see is what you get, honesty and integrity and a my word is my bond type attitude.
To end on the old adage "where there's muck there's brass" but can assure you this industry is a far cry from the old Steptoe and Son image portrayed some years ago.
Hello and welcome to my first ever blog.
I thought that at almost 50 years of age, its about time I gained the title of blogger, and I’d start by introducing myself before I get down to some business issues.
Moving from Marsh Farm in Luton just before starting High school, I left Challney High School with a handful of CSE’S (what are those I hear the youth of today ask) wanting a career in the Army as a tank driver. Which due to surprisingly not being heavy enough, was not to be, 3 times I tried, but to no avail, even when the Falklands war broke out I tried.
Leaving School without wanting to do anything else, was tough, with 2 million unemployed, how I wish I had listened to the teachers, who’d all told me “you are an intelligent lad, stop playing the class clown”. During my working career I have been a Butcher, Apprentice Jockey, managed a newsagents, a ladies clothes shop, worked in dept stores as Assistant manager of a haberdashery and soft linen dept, run the Lingerie dept, and managed a concession selling suits in various places. I have laboured for a brick layer, made paving slabs and helped clear drains, and worked on a weighbridge on a contaminated muck site always looking for something I really wanted to do.
So I answered an advert for Firbank Waste as a weighbridge operative, and after an initially unsuccessful interview I was contacted to be told the person that had taken the job was not what they thought and given the job, so my introduction into the waste industry was a pure fluke. For 5 years, the longest I’d ever been in a job, I worked hard taking an interest in the way in which the industry worked, gaining knowledge and experience about the ever changing rules and regulations, I loved it but wanted more, so I applied for another weighbridge job in a scrap yard, after all its still within the waste industry, surely I can walk this. The interview was quite honesty the strangest interview I’ve ever had, questions like “are your parents alive” and “why do you have a mobile phone” we talked about leaders of men and I’d said that my current boss had sent me on a course organised by the Rotary Club at RAF Henlow which was officers training, and whilst there had, had the same discussion with an officer, to which I had said Hitler was a good leader of men as although being deranged had managed to unite the majority of Germans into believing they could take over Europe.
Despite one person on the interview panel walking out of the interview the Managing Director offered me a position as a Trainee Trader in one of the biggest metal recycling companies in the Uk and Europe. It transpired that the persons interviewing me were Jewish, but I’m glad they never took my remark as offensive, because it was not meant to be.
So my journey into the world of metals began, working in the shipping dept, in the yard, in fact every dept going until I earned my wings as a fully fledged metals trader!
After starting a Catalytic Converter business for this company and being disillusioned with office politics I left and have ended up starting re-Mark-it, based In Kensworth, working by myself in the beginning, collecting Catalytic Converters from all over the country and then deciding to put my Non Ferrous Metal knowledge to good use, to now employing 4 full time staff, at our present site in Houghton Regis, whom I am proud to say are gaining knowledge and experience in a industry that at times is frowned upon by many. More of that to come in a later blog.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and also that you have seen the hidden message in my introduction to this blog. A rebel lad who grew up on a council estate, joked and misbehaved his way through school, with little qualifications moves from job to job, until eventually he decides to go it alone. Running a business is not an easy task, and especially one in this industry, I have always said that good luck, helpful advice and the drive, passion and enthusiasm to make it work, and the willingness to do long hours, support from loved ones and friends, taking very little time off, were instrumental in getting to where re-Mark-it is today. A successful company that has at its core a gratefulness to its customers, and known in our industry for our honesty and integrity.