Shawston International Limited
Growing up in the Manchester area and having what can only be described as a very eventful introduction to the world of work aged 16 whilst working at his local petrol station, Rob developed an early appetite for business and entrepreneurship. After completing 12-years working for 2 large PLC’s at Director level, he wanted ‘out’ of corporate life and chose to risk it all; beg, borrow and steal to fund a small management buy-in of a rather scruffy, Manchester based distribution business with sales of £750k p.a. and 10 employees. Today, 20-years on, scruffy has turned to more polished; Shawston now operate from 5 depots, sales are approaching £25 million p.a. and the business has 120 co-owner employees.
Rob’s flair for business combined with his entrepreneurial vision has enabled him to adapt his inclusive and honest approach to both relationships and decision-making, this has certainly been advantageous for both his business and personal success. It is also a philosophy quite visible in his move to make Shawston a fully employee owned business, having implemented a (minority) direct share ownership model in 2015.
In recent years, and on the back of some incredibly challenging but successful cultural changes within Shawston, Rob has contributed to the Government’s Dividend Report led by Baroness Sharon Bowles and has been a speaker at the Employee Ownership Association’s annual conference.
Married to Michelle with 2 children, Rob is a keen cyclist and an avid Manchester United fan. He is a big fan of the Manchester music scene and has quite an extensive record collection, The Smiths being a big favourite. Rob has recently taken up kite surfing and can often be found in Anglesey putting his newly learnt skills to the test.
Rob’s mission is to create a “forever Shawston” A business with a thriving employee ownership culture, a young and dynamic leadership team that is the envy of the competition and a strong balance sheet. The future for Shawston looks long and bright!
Non-Exec Commercial Director
Before joining Shawston, Graham worked for 17-years at a large PLC. Following an acquisition by a global conglomerate, Graham became the Sales and Operations Director, accountable for all sales in the South of England, which included responsibility for 3 branches with a combined turnover of £25m.
After a successful 17-years working at the PLC Graham decided to take the plunge - go it alone - and in 2003 substantially invested in Shawston International Ltd. Graham became the first major investment partner to the original founder. Today, Graham is an experienced business owner and has contributed to the growth at Shawston from a turnover of £750k to £20m. That’s some story!
As the Non-Executive Commercial Director, Graham is responsible for planning, developing, and implementing the commercial strategies that reflect the objective and priorities of the Shawston Group. Maximising opportunities for profit, generating revenue and creating sustainable growth are amongst some of his key responsibilities continuing on the journey to build a forever Shawston.
Married to Angela, Graham is a keen table tennis player; he regularly plays for the local “A-team”. He also enjoys most competitive sports playing and watching alike. An avid follower of “The Mighty Yellows” Oxford United since a child, Graham has instilled this love and commitment into his 3 sons and is often seen dragging them along to various local grounds at the weekend!
Group Managing Director
Leaving University with a degree in Business Information Technology John quickly began to climb up the career ladder. Originally planning a role in IT John soon realised he had a head suited to commercial business and rapidly progressed to become the European lead for key accounts within the building products sector at a leading bathroom ceramics specialist. Over the following years John progressed into MD positions for 2 leading brands within the bathroom industry.
With a well-established background in the building products sector and a passion for an empowered culture it seemed a natural progression for John to join the Shawston team. Both John’s personal and business values are in direct alignment with the Shawston culture and John was keen to become the newest equity participating member of the Senior Leadership team.
Taking on the role of Group Managing Director, John is fully responsible for all aspects of the operational platform including, brand growth, launching market leading innovative products into the marketplace and maintaining our level of unrivalled, first class customer service levels. He is a welcome addition to the SLT and relishes the challenge of taking Shawston to the next stage in its business growth plans.
Married to Nicky with 2 sons, John is a big fan of camping and often indulges his habit in Cornwall. No stranger to the adventure of travel, John also likes to explore overseas having previously spent time in Thailand and the West Coast of America. During the recent lockdown John has caught the cycling bug and often enjoys relaxing on a bike ride or via a round of golf. With 2 springer spaniels -Lola and Tilly - both having boundless energy, John is certainly kept on his toes keeping the girls entertained on long walks.
Group Sales Director
James joined the Shawston Graduate Training scheme in 2012 after graduating from MMU with a BA (Hons) in Finance and Accountancy. Throughout his college and university years, James worked at our in-house tube fabrication unit, Shawston Steel Tube, in Salford.
His early career included several roles within the Shawston Finance department, including Group Financial Controller. Today James is the Group Sales Director and is an equity participating member of Shawston’s Senior Leadership team.
After a challenging 3-years, James recently completed a Shawston sponsored MBA at Manchester Metropolitan Business School. Graduating with a merit clearly demonstrates James’ ability to think calmly and logically in a business environment. James dissertation was based on employee ownership, so both James and Shawston secured real value from this amazing scope of work.
An unbelievably quick learner and mature beyond his years, James sets the tone when it comes to combining serious academic qualities with work ethic, a can-do attitude and humbleness – an all potent cocktail for business success! James is also the leader of Shawston ‘People & Culture’ as one of his many projects.
As a diehard Mancunian, James follows his beloved Manchester United home and away. He still manages to find time to play golf at his local club and is an active member of the gym.
Group Supply Chain Director
Following an 8-year career in the travel sector, Mark moved on to his first sales role with a local steel stockholder. Having fulfilled his ambition to become a senior internal sales executive, Mark decided to branch out and joined Shawston in 2004 as a key member of the management team. He wanted to be part of a small owner-managed business. Mark purchased some equity and became one of the core ‘founder members’ of what is today a thriving £20 million business.
Throughout his time at Shawston, Mark has been heavily involved in the company’s expansion plans and was instrumental in the sourcing, setting up and opening of both the Birmingham and Glasgow branches as well as the acquisition of Tipton Jones in 2010. Mark was also responsible for setting up several global supply chains and to this day still oversees the complex and unique import division.
The initiator of a Central Purchasing team, of which he became a vital member, Mark’s skills and achievements saw him progress to Operations Director. During this time, Shawston enjoyed explosive growth and Mark was instrumental in ensuring Shawston’s unrivalled customer service never faltered and the global supply chains kept pace with Shawston demand.
As the business continued to expand and underwent a cultural change in 2015 to move to a fully employee owned model, Mark started to focus more on purchasing and market management. Now the Group Supply Chain Director and a substantial equity participating member of the Shawston Senior Leadership Team. Mark’s personal ethos and intrinsic values have clearly helped to create the business that Shawston is today.
Married to Amanda, with 2 daughters, Mark is a lifelong Liverpool fan, he particularly enjoys having a beer or two at his local pub. He has recently taken up cycling to get fit, either out on the road or on the turbo trainer. You will often see Mark hitting the road for a good 40-mile round trip. His encyclopedic knowledge of sport and music makes Mark a formidable quiz master or opponent, so you have been warned!
On leaving University Gareth joined a large national building distribution company as a graduate trainee on their management training scheme. After spending time in all sections of the business Gareth gained an insight into each department and its effect on creating and maintaining a successful company.
Moving swiftly up the career ladder Gareth was soon promoted and over a span of 20 years progressed through the ranks to Regional Sales Director and soon after Regional Operations Manager for the Southeast, responsible for 12 depots with a regional turnover of £160m. Throughout that time, Gareth was intrinsic in helping the business achieve 40% above budget performance alongside shaping the company to help sustain future growth opportunities.
Spending time in both sales and operational roles allowed Gareth to help to establish a sales culture within the company coupled with operational excellence.
Looking for a new adventure, Gareth decided to join the Shawston team as Operations Director. His desire to join to a business passionate about people and their development was key and he became an equity participating member of the Shawston Senior Leadership Team in January 2023.
Gareth’s role will see him look to improve business efficiencies, enhance Shawston’s sustainability programme and build on an already unrivalled customer service platform, whilst looking at business growth opportunities and supporting the EO journey alongside.
Father to 2 children, Gray and Olive with soon to be wife Kelly, Gareth loves to spend time with his family. His passion for cricket has seen him captain Met Police Bushey CC for 10 successful years and he proudly ended his playing career with a tournament on the home of cricket, Lords.
Passing his passion down through the generations, he often faces his son Gray in the back garden and coaches at his local village club Southill, where both his children are playing members.
Group Compliance Director
Shaun started his career in the military, serving with the Royal Engineers and qualifying as a Technical Engineer, Shaun’s role included providing support to redeveloping 3rd world countries during peacekeeping operations.
Shaun made the transition into civilian life 12-years ago, working for several of the UK’s leading principal contractors including Costain and Balfour Beatty, where he was the Head of HSE for the North and Midlands.
After 8-years directing a consultancy business servicing multiple market sectors, Shaun was invited to join Shawston to head up the health, safety, and quality division and to provide support to business operations. His current role as Group Compliance Director, includes ensuring Shawston continue to lead the way in all aspects of safety and compliance across the Shawston group.
Shaun has used his background and experience in safety as a mechanism to harness operational success. Like operations, Shaun manages to make HESQ interesting and has a real skill when it comes to bringing strategy and concepts to life. His natural leadership qualities and charisma are having a profound impact on the business and the team members. During a time when safety and customer service are of critical importance Shaun has been an exemplar of what real leadership looks like. Shaun is also an equity participating member of the Shawston Senior Leadership Team.
Married to his wife Julie, Shaun is a seasoned traveller with a passion for the Americas. He has more recently become a new father to a daughter, Vivienne. Shaun is also a very amateur golfer with an embarrassing handicap which he did not consent to being disclosed! Shame
Key Accounts Director (Fire)
Aaron is an outstanding example of Shawston meritocracy and the determination to promote and develop from within the organisation. One of the great personalities within Shawston, Aaron has so far had a stellar Shawston career!
Starting his career at Shawston in 2008, his various roles included Warehouse Operative, Dispatch Administrator, and a position in purchasing. His talent and ambition were quickly recognised and Aaron was appointed to an internal sales role. Aaron successfully developed this role over 4-years which included a branch relocation in the South of England.
In 2013 Aaron was appointed to Sales Executive and started to progress rapidly through the organisation. A natural entrepreneur with a flair for business, today in his role as the Key Accounts Director (Fire), he is responsible for delivering a significant national sales budget, the strategic account development of a number of key customers and overseeing all day-to-day fire sales activity. Aaron is especially proud to have built and grown an external sales team nationwide.
Aaron is also an equity participating member of the Shawston Senior Leadership Team.
Aaron (or Harry as he is known outside work) loves sport, his passions include boxing and kickboxing. Regular gym sessions help Aaron to keep fit and be a father to an 8-year-old daughter who keeps him on his toes!
Key Account Director (Mechanical)
Steve has come a long way from his early career playing football for the Sheffield Wednesday reserve team. His life as a semi-professional player in his early 20’s ended and was quickly replaced by a corporate career in early 2000.
After 10-years within an SME environment, Steve joined a large PLC with over 60 branches nationwide. Steve rapidly progressed in the business and became a Regional Product Manager covering 10 branches in the London region.
In 2012 Steve joined Shawston as a Key Account Manager. Initially his role was very sales focused, introducing several product ranges to the business. Steve has been instrumental in growing Shawston market share in the London area. Steve’s Shawston CV boasts impressive sales growth, year-in, year-out, whilst managing and leading a customer service team.
Today, Steve is the Key Account Director for Mechanical Services with exciting plans to replicate the London success in Northern England, as well as helping to continue growth in the London/Southern region. He is also an equity participating member of Shawston’s senior leadership team.
It is not all work, in his spare time Steve enjoys spending time with friends and his 2 children. He leads an active lifestyle with daily runs over 5k and still enjoys playing VETS football for Colden Common FC.
Leaving school at 18 and beginning his career working in the warehouse, Matt soon progressed into sales for a large national distribution business within the mechanical services sector at which point his career took off. Many house moves, and many new job roles later, Matt’s most recent role involved him leading a team of people as Director for a large national distribution business which he was involved with from inception.
Following a decision to close that business Matt found himself looking for a new adventure, in stepped Shawston and Matt joined the team as Product Director. Matt wanted to join a progressive company where he could have a direct impact on the company’s success moving forwards and has quickly become a valuable member of the Senior Leadership Team. A shareholder in the business Matt is a direct fit with our culture and values and a key player in driving the success of Shawston forward.
Matt’s role as Product Director has already seen him head up the launch of 3 new products whilst also at the same time being responsible for re-evaluating the entire current Shawston product portfolio and expanding our range where possible. A wealth of knowledge and experience within the mechanical services sector, Matt is key in developing new business opportunities and is a hands-on support to our unrivalled customer services team.
Currently residing in Hove with his son Jacob and daughter Scarlet, Matt loves living near the sea and enjoys sea swimming, (even in the Winter) and paddle boarding in the Summer. When he is not in the water Matt is a keen road and trail runner, with 5 marathons and several half marathons under his belt. All this sport is counterbalanced with a love of live music and home brewing beer, he is still chasing the elusive perfect IPA…
Group Finance Director
After studying at Lancaster University in 2007 and gaining a 1st Class degree in Accounting and Finance, Tom moved to a national accounting practice to gain his ACA qualification with the ICAEW.
After spending time as an Audit Manager for a varied portfolio of SME and owner managed businesses, Tom decided the time was right to move into industry. Tom has worked with several high profile and successful North West based SME’s, the most recent company where Tom worked for 5-years, had an inclusive culture, and ignited the foundations of employee passion.
Having successfully supported his old company to grow by over £150m in sales and navigate 2 rounds of private equity investment, Tom’s move to Shawston was a natural decision where the culture is totally aligned to Tom’s career and personal values, with an opportunity to participate in an equity ownership scheme. Tom’s position as Group Finance Director is helping to shape and mould a sustainable, evolving business - a forever Shawston.
Tom became an equity participating member of the Shawston Senior Leadership Team in May 2020.
Tom is a father of 3 young girls with wife Anna. A keen sportsman who enjoys golf, cycling and football he is always keen to be in the great outdoors with the family and enjoy time together. Tom also sits on the committee of the North West Society of Chartered Accountants.