• Madeleine Bonser

Spotlight on Gavin Williams

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Here at Spotlight, we had the opportunity to talk to Gavin Williams, Managing Director of Maven Ltd. He spoke to us about overcoming challenges during 2020 and gave advice to those starting out in their career.

A background into you and your business?

My background started in the hospitality industry working for large organisations such as Hilton, Marriott and Center Parcs. After many successful years growing through the ranks, I made the jump into the Aviation sector with the hope of one day having the opportunity to emigrate to warmer climates. I spent 5 fantastic years working for Manchester Airport Group working at all three of their UK airports and had the amazing opportunity to visit some incredible airports around the world. But sadly, like most in the industry, my role was made redundant in 2020 so it left me wondering where I’d go next as both the sectors I have my experience in were almost none excitant now.

I was then approached by a close friend who was working in the food industry and had never been busier so wanted to expand and so Maven Ltd was born. At Maven Ltd we are passionate about the Bakery and Food industry and we pride ourselves on great customer service and delivering great products and solutions for our customers.

Maven specialises in the supply of industrial bakery and food equipment, to the UK Bakery and Food Industries. We’re suppliers of new, used and refurbished bakery equipment and we work with small bakers right through to large industrial plants. We are passionate about the bakery industry and have worked with some big companies over the past few years. Through consultation and project management we provide equipment, delivery, installation, after-sales service, spares and servicing to the highest standard. Maven are Worldwide sole agents for Damak Equipment and UK agents Gashor systems. We’re also licensed agents for Salva and Zelaieta products, but we work with our clients to help with standard and bespoke needs on all equipment, servicing and maintenance

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

The business was originally set up in 2015 as just a servicing and maintenance company ran by Steven Rainbow the Engineering Director and Paul Terrence the Operations Director supporting the UK food industry in ensuring food manufacturing lines kept on running. But at the start of the first UK COVID19 lockdown demand for extra equipment grew due to increased sales. So, we tendered for a number of food manufacture supplier’s business and settled on partnering up with DAMAK who are a Turkish company that focus mainly within the bakery industry. Through supporting the UK and Ireland sales for them we have now been awarded their worldwide sales office contract which has meant we can take on a wider team and grow our operation.

What has been your biggest challenge or setback during your career?

I was made redundant during the COVID19 pandemic and it was the first time in my career that I found myself without a job. Having worked for large organisations like Center Parcs and Manchester Airport Group I found my drive and ambition to grow my career quickly succeeded with some fantastic promotions won over my time with these great companies. But then making the decision to grow a brand new business from fresh with little to no support is a real daunting challenge.

If any, can you tell us more about how you overcame those setbacks?

When I was first laid off from work and really struggling to get noticed in an already overcrowded job market, I was approached by a good friend of mine Steven Rainbow (Engineering Director) about supporting him in a new business venture he wanted to give a go. Luckily for me, he already had a great team behind him who had been in the industry for many years so we sat down together and built our business plan for the future.

What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?

All of our team have always been passionate about raising money for charity and giving something back to the community. Last year one of our directors spent months training and raising a fantastic amount of money to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and 3 weeks before the climb he was out training and he fell and broke his ankle but this didn’t stop him and he still amazingly still climbed right to the top with a plastic boot on.

We’ve also got a large team that can help with almost any DIY job so we like to get out in the community helping charities and businesses that need support for such a worthy cause.

What is it that gives you the drive and determination to succeed?

I’m very much a family man and have 4 beautiful children that I’m incredibly proud of. After dropping out of University to get a job due to my partner at the time being pregnant I always knew I would work hard and aim to be the best person I could to deliver for my family. I hope to continue this for the rest of my career as once my kids start having kids that’s a lot of mouths to feed!

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?

My previous role was in the Aviation industry, a sector I was very knowledgeable in and this meant I knew a lot of people around the world who could support me. This meant when I needed support and an answer, I normally knew who to call to help but joining a completely new sector taking on a large team and not knowing the operation very well I’ve had to adapt my style of managing to get those around me to show me the way and guide me with their knowledge and experience.

What three tips would you give to those starting their careers?

  1. Build a good support network around you. Knowledge is key and if you don’t know the answer to something know someone who will.

  2. Always treat others how you would like to be treated.

  3. Everyone is human even the people at the very top are real human beings so don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them!

What is your advice to people who are wanting to start a business?

Make sure there is a demand for it in the market, do your research. In today’s world more and more people want to set up a company but be sure that your business plan stacks up and that you can make it work. It’s surprising how many people give it ago and then a year down the line after lots of work it shuts down due to it not working out.

What advice do you have for people aiming for leadership positions?

Work hard and get a great mentor to support you. All the way through my career I’ve had some amazing business mentors. Each one of those has helped me in some way and to this day I still call them now for advice.

What would your advice be to someone managing a team?

Be personable and honest. You want people to work for you. I’ve always found that if you build a team around you that knows you’ll support them and give them clear honest guidance they’ll work hard for you and you’ll then deliver most tasks that are put your way.

What has been your strategy for your business during corona?

Like everyone we’ve had to adapt to how we work in the new world and our biggest issue has been the travel band. The way it worked a year ago is we’d go and visit new potential customers and talk about their options and if they were interested in a particular product we’d fly them out to one of our production facilities in either Izmir or Konya in Turkey to view the equipment and test it with their ingredients. This really helped us secure some good future business. Sadly this strategy has changed and we complete a lot of Zoom meetings which although are great we struggle to have that personal touch. Then we’ve had to build our own test kitchen in Nottingham for customers to come and view the products although this is great it is limited as we can’t stock every item as we do in Turkey and it has come at a big cost to us.

How has your business adapted to deal with such uncertain times?

Lucky for us we’re in a market that’s currently in high demand and although some customers are willing to invest in new expensive pieces of kit almost all of our customers want to keep their machines running as much as possible so our highly skilled engineers are in high demand at the minute

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us, Gavin. If you’ve been inspired by how Gavin overcame being made redundant during the pandemic and using his experience to build Maven Ltd connect with him on Linkedin and Like Maven Ltd on Facebook.

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