How would you feel being the CEO of a company with target annual revenues of £335 million?
Graeme Potts, CEO and founder of Eden Motor Group, has shared his story with CEO and what he believes is the success behind this reality he built.
Having worked and managed large publicly traded companies in the UK and then abroad, Graeme collected a large amount of business knowledge, and admittedly, also financial security. However, unlike most in his position, he was lucky to have gained this experience at a young age. By the time he turned 50, an age when people would start entering executive positions or start having their mid-life crisis, Graeme decided to pull up his sleeves, and start this new venture.
In 2008 he bought 5 car dealerships, and through a joint partnership with Vauxhall, founded Eden Motor Group. Today, Graeme is the only shareholder of this multi-group that sells cars, parts and repair work. It had an annual turnover in 2017 of £300M with a target of £330M for 2018, +800 employees and 21 dealerships in the South and South West of the UK.
A company with only one owner, or with the founder being the majority shareholder, is becoming increasingly less frequent in today’s startup environment. Graeme describes this privilege with great care.
“Being a sole owner comes with a lot of responsibility, but my primary purpose is that to ensure that all my colleagues are motivated, and that I can provide them with financial stability and security.
When asked whether we can call him an entrepreneur, he preferred describing himself as an entrepreneurial manager. By this he means that he does not have the same characteristics as someone who from an early age wanted to start his own business. His ambition is derived from having gathered a lot of expertise, and wanting to do something practical with it.
Although Graeme admires founders that can go out and start their business, alone, Graeme needs to be surrounded by people. Graeme is very much the definition of a leader. But to be a leader, you need people. When Graeme first started, he already had 180 people working with him.
As the number of dealerships grew, so did the number of people. To maintain the small company culture, Graeme personally meets every new employee. Also, because he knows how valuable it is to empower your colleagues, he has taken it upon himself to pass on his knowledge to his teams in different departments in order to coach them to become business leaders.
Graeme’s strength as a business leader lies in his long-term vision, and key principles. Unlike most startups and SMEs that have profitability as their number one concern, Graeme will implement strategies that might reduce profits in the short run, but build stability and growth in the long term. His key principles are to have a company that combines the best of large companies and the best of small companies, while always working to offer the best quality of services for its customers in a professional but informal way.
Graeme, like all good entrepreneurs, does not deny that he is very satisfied that his business model worked, and that he was able to create a company where he is proud of the affordability and quality he can supply to his clients.
Market share, financial stability and strategic growth are all characteristics of great companies. Positive attributes that we look for in CEO companies.