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Catching Up With Joe

It's about time to introduce you to Joe and find out his good, bad and ugly bits about working for Westmorland Sheepskins on the North Yorkshire markets and National shows. Joe joined the team in 2009 after working for a large banking firm in his early 20s.

6 years working in the family business, what do enjoy about it?

There are not many jobs where you get to see your family so much for a start.  We are, and always have been, a close family and being able to spend time with them at work is great, usually! We are all striving for the same goal when we wake up in the morning and all want the firm to grow positively.

What do you like about your job?

Working on the markets and shows you develop friendships that turn into an extended family. You spend 4 to 5 days a week throughout the summer moving from show to show and see the same traders as you follow each others tyre tracks round the country. You spend a lot of time with each other on nights when the shows close putting the world to rights over a beer and a BBQ. Most traders (with the exception of a few) will go out their way to help you out if you are ever in difficulty and need help or just need someone to watch your stand while you pop to the toilet (this isn't easy when working on your on your own the whole day as you can't just walk away from your stock!)

Every day is different and the views from my office window are always changing - from the small villages in the Yorkshire Dales to the large country estates like Stanstead House in Hampshire or Sandringham House in Norfolk. I tend to go back to the same show around the same weekend each year and develop friendships with regular customers as well and look forward to seeing them each year.  Even if they don’t need a new pair of shoes or slippers at that time, it is always nice to see them and have a chat.

Image courtesy of wfmillar via wikimedia.

Other than the shows and markets, are there any other parts you enjoy?

I enjoy going out to find new suppliers and product ranges. We spend a couple of weekends in February and March going to trade fairs in Italy and Spain, walking up and down the aisles searching for that little gem. My first success for example was Jungla.  Like us, Jungla are a small family business from Spain producing fantastically beautiful and comfortable full leather shoes and we were the first company to retail them in the UK. I have enjoyed building that relationship with them and making sure we work together to get the best for both of us out of it.

Okay enough of the likes, what do you not enjoy about your work?

There are not many, but one is getting out of bed on a cold wet winter morning at 4.30am to drive to a market and then the 2 hours it takes to set up and taking down.  I guess another one is that during the summer the shows are on weekends when a lot of my friends tend to meet up and I miss out on them.

Oh... one last thing...folding the side sheet on the stall!  They are 20 odd foot long and doing them on your own is a bit of a bore... yawn!

What are your aims for the future and Westmorland Sheepskin?

I think we are in a great position at the moment as a business but I never want to be static without change and development - that's another plus to working in the family business, nobody does. Tim and Dom are working hard on the online side of the business and have recently opened a retail unit at Crimple Hall just outside of Harrogate.  I think that's a great thing for our business and something I hope they develop further and open a few more around Yorkshire as it gets our name out there and is a fixed location.

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