42 years ago, whilst still working in the caravan industry, Mike hand-built his very first Bedroom Cabinet in his garage. He then built a few more to sell into local shops. From there he started to work with a sales agent and his furniture making business was born.
As demand grew, he rented a modest property on Cave street and managed to grow the company to 20 people with a turnover of £250,000 before taking the business to its next transformation and moving to proper factory premises on Bankside Industrial estate.
As the business continued to grow, it faced a myriad of challenges across the years as markets changed, import competition increased and key customers went into liquidation. As many of Mike’s key competitors fell, Mike knew he had to react fast and adapt the business to retain hold of, and grow, his market share and this is when his philosophy of recruiting people “better than he was”, and develop them, really paid off. Restructuring, new product ranges and a company ethos “to work smarter not harder”, made the business leaner and more adaptable to support the sales growth. Mike continued to invest in his team – some of whom have been with him for decades, and ensured the company continued to invest in technology, automation, new ideas and embrace the change required to meet the demands of the market.
It is now a thriving family business and that family ethos runs across the whole team, a team now led by Mike’s son Richard who is now the Managing Director.
Today Kingstown Furniture is a proud UK Manufacturer, employing 300+ people, manufacturing 5000 pieces of furniture a week, with a turnover of £20+ million a year. All of this is done from its factory premises on Leads Road, Hull and sitting in the factory showroom, is a piece of furniture, affectionately known as “BC1” Bedside Cabinet 1.
Mike Sharp is a keen business mentor and has supported business growth, entrepreneurs and SME’s through a range of non-exec roles for many years. He has undertaken voluntary work with Hull Investment, helping start-ups and providing hands on support, advice and business planning guidance. He was also a board Director with Yorkshire Forward for 6 years, assessing the plans of new and existing businesses, who applied for investment grants.
Mike is keen to continue this work and wants to use his experience of building a business from scratch, to offer practical, robust advice on every aspect of business development and growth.
“You can’t build a strong business without good people, so invest in them and they, along with a passion for what you do and the ability to adapt fast as things around you change, will take you where you want to be. The journey can be challenging, demanding, sometimes with difficult decisions to be made but just as importantly is the great sense of achievement and personal satisfaction.”
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