Made in Britain – Stayed in Britain – Trade in Britain
For most of us, saying goodbye to 2020 was a welcome relief, but amongst all the negative COVID headlines, there were some great people, brand, and motivational stories. Here Mike Strickson, Area Sales Manager at CU Phosco Lighting, shares a heartwarming recollection.
Mikes says: I joined CU Phosco in January 2019. From my first day, I was staggered by how many of my new colleagues had 30-40+ years of service and were still as enthusiastic as the day they joined.
Eighteen months later, while working on a project, I came across a story that drove home the values of a UK, family-owned business that has been a household brand throughout my measly 32 years within the lighting industry.
Forty years ago, this September, a colleague of ours joined the CU Phosco family (established in 1923), Mark Thompson, the Stores Manager at our Ware site.
After getting the job as a Temporary Yard Hand, and in his words, having no intention of staying, he was later offered the position of a delivery driver for London, the South East and the Home Counties.
Mark recalls spending 1982 driving to seaside towns, early mornings on-site, and often strolling along promenades to deliver what was then our signature P412 Coastal and Major City Heritage Lantern.
Upon completing the product's role out, Mark was asked to dispose of any leftovers. Thinking it was much too nice to throw away, he decided to hide it in Ware's stores!
Mark then went on to become our driver for the North of England for 12 years, often away for five nights a week, and I have no doubt some of you may have even met!
Back in those days, CU Phosco operated its own delivery service until the changing world empowered carriers to become more competitive and flexible. When the family decided to outsource deliveries, Mark found an opening to become the Stores Manager (the current one decided to move on to pastures new) and immediately took to the role.
When discussing the story with Mark, he was proud to tell me they eventually disposed of the last lorry (as it was only doing odd drops), and he was pleased it had served the company for 14 years based on an expected time of five!
This November, I visited our factory in Ware on urgent essential business to be summoned to Area 51 (yes, I did say Area 51), a home branded area in the stores the guys had set up to hide historical gems; Mark appeared to get down what I could only see at the time as a huge grey blanket!
I'm afraid to say the unveiling was unceremonious, but you guessed it, hidden beneath was a brand new P412.
Another colleague ''Mike Board,'' whose career predates even Mark's, was also present and recalls being part of the design team. It was a gem of a moment.
It had never been installed and was as good as the day it was built.
Ultimately, this little unveiling expedited a task we had been asked to carry out by a client, as nothing beats "The Real Deal" and had much more impact than the line drawings we still have. The finding has created a positive vibe within the business and will likely result in the relaunch of the P412 - remade in modern materials and LED.
To continue the happy tale, Mark's wife Lorraine also works with us (for 30+ years) and now resides in our Finance Department.
Today, we live in a new and often uncertain world; I saw a quote in December 2020 saying, "2020 is not about appreciating what we desire and want. It's about appreciating what we have".
I couldn't think of a better example to share than Mark and his conscientiousness and passion, from one of the UK's longstanding, still family-owned, lighting manufacturers.
I have always believed that Lighting is a people business, despite the advent of computers and systems, and Mark is a testament to that - a company is nothing without its people!