Name: Mark Howell
Firm: Marshall Fleet Solutions
Job: Managing Director
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EVER JOB?
I worked for Birds Eye Walls in Asda, pricing/packing freezers with cornettos, peas and chips! Back in those days, the shop’s coldstore was an old Leyland Freighter that had failed its MOT, out in the yard plugged into the mains!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE COMMERCIAL VEHICLE BUSINESS?
I joined the family business, my father owned a transport refrigeration manufacturer in Hampshire, where I went through a good old-fashioned apprenticeship programme, working in each department, in the factory and offices.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
As MD, I have a small team of directors around me that help me steer and drive the business forward. It’s not so much what I do, it’s more about what all our people do that work for MFS. I have the pleasure of heading up a great team, who have fantastic ideas, bucket loads of passion and boundless enthusiasm. It’s my job to keep that positive energy going.
HOW WILL YOUR JOB/BUSINESS CHANGE OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS?
The great thing about the sector we operate in is that people need to eat. In many ways it is recession/downturn proof. I remember reading a study which concluded that in times of national austerity, the nation turns to food and eating to make itself feel better about life. Couple this with emerging markets such as the growing pharmaceutical sector and the demands for more detailed data, then our world becomes more of a data management business reacting to incidents before they ultimately become an incident.
WHAT OTHER JOBS HAVE YOU DONE?
I was Sales/Marketing Director for Carrier Transicold (for ten years). After that I worked for a commercial vehicle contract hire company as their Commercial Director (five years) where I helped shape the business for a sale to an American company. I then joined a fantastic business called Burnt Tree Vehicle Rental as their Contract Hire Director and soon I found myself involved again in an acquisition, this time to US-based Enterprise who bought the business. I remained for four years as Sales Director before joining MFS. Funny thing, it seems that acquisitions by American Corporations follow me around!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE JOINING THE INDUSTRY?
These days (I sound like my dad!) it’s as though young people find it hard to accept that they need to start at the bottom. My advice would be embrace starting there, lap it up and enjoy learning – which doesn’t feel like learning at the time – as you become an older man like me soon enough and you’ll be pleased that you have that experience and appreciation for the job from the bottom up. That way you can make demands on yourself and others as your career grows simply because you’ve been there and got the T-shirt.
HOW DO YOU RELAX?
I enjoy watching all sports, especially my team Liverpool FC, as well Rugby Union. Being with friends/family, doing the simple things together with a lot of laughter – yeah that relaxes me!
FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION?
Cape Town – awesome climate, culture, food and of course wine! Favourite book/film? Films are my thing, and watching them with my nearest and dearest. If you forced me to give you one film then it would have to be Step Brothers – I think I know the entire script. Give me a good Tarrantino film also.
Love it all – I jump into my car and hit shuffle on ‘my music playlist’ and one minute we’ll be listening to Jay-Z, the next it’ll be Andrea Bocelli.
FIRST CAR AND COST?
Even though it broke down all the time, it was a 1972 Beetle. It was white, full of rust and cost me £200. I spent a whole year doing it up, eventually spraying it Porsche Magenta – pink to you and me!
My first car!