Barry Partridge, farewell but not goodbye
We couldn’t say farewell to our senior sales manager for London and the South of England, the inimitable Barry Partridge, without marking his long and successful career with us. With the long overdue publication of our interview with the inimitable Barry (held up by the pandemic followed by a revision of our website…), we've rifled through our image archives and would like to share some snapshots of Barry with colleagues and customers, along with happy memories and anecdotes. We invite you to enjoy a brief trip down memory lane as we wish Barry a long, healthy and happy retirement.
Barry, it all began with a career at JD Beardmore from 1975-1981, before you joined Sussex Brassware in October of 1981 (the works for D.A.Thomas architectural ironmongery) before the company became Focus SB following various mergers. What was it that attracted you to a career in fixtures and fittings, embarking on what you describe as a ‘glorified milk round’ to single handedly promote electrical accessories from the boot of your car?
BP At the time fixtures and fittings had no interest to me whatsoever! It was pure greed and the need to increase my salary to provide for my then wife and babies!! Later on I developed an interest in architectural accessories gaining a diploma with credit from the Guild of Architectural Ironmongery.
For you it’s all been about developing relationships and gaining the trust of our wonderful customers and you’ve lived by the mantra ‘if you’re pleased to see them, hopefully they’re pleased to see you’. Tell us about your early career and how things have changed.
BP During the ‘80s and ‘90s I spent a lot of time dealing directly with electrical wholesalers, taking orders with a pad and pencil. When the market changed in the ‘90s, when more competitors came on to the scene combined with the need to be more involved in the specification process, this meant more time spent with designers, consultants and architects, with contractors placing orders through wholesalers.
Very much part of the furniture you’ve been working for Focus SB for 40 years, pretty much since the start, what are some of the stand out moments you’ll always remember?
BP Even though we were battling to gain a foothold within the electrical and building services industries, we never took it too seriously and we were encouraged to have fun with our customers, rather than being pressurised into achieving sales figures. Trade shows were a time to be enjoyed. There are so many memories and as far as I’m concerned they are all magnificent… so no standouts I’m afraid.
Reflecting on those 40 years, I’m pleased to say it’s been a blast! I will on occasion miss driving the scenic route home on summer evenings when the day is done, admiring the beautiful countryside.
For my swan song, I’m planning to take the Brighton Zip challenge and fly 300m across Brighton beach - listen out for my ‘wheeeeeee! on around 29th or 30th May.
What do you wish someone had told you years ago?
BP Stop stressing… I’m still trying!!
There are not many small to medium businesses around with such a dedicated and loyal workforce, what do you think makes Focus SB stand out from the rest?
BP Work should have a sense of fun… our company over the years has allowed us to work hard AND play hard.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
BP My then boss’s wife once told me… ‘when you look in the mirror, be sure you are content with the person looking back at you’. Also I’ve tried to lead my life as stated in the ‘Desiderata’ poem by Max Ehrmann. A section from it reads ‘Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time’.
As you plan to head off into the sunset, what words of wisdom would you give to someone aspiring to a career in your industry today?
BP Strive to do your best, making sure you listen and empathise with your customers.
What’s next for Barry Partridge?
BP Firstly, I’m desperate to visit my daughter and granddaughter in Spain. I hope to be able to relax, watch and play sport, enjoying my days out on my new bike and my old golf course!
When it’s safe, I would love to get back to live gigs and music festivals.
I love my wife, family, and dog and hope to spend quality time with them for many years to come… I’m also very friendly with quite a few landlords and aim to keep them in business!
“It’s all about the relationship with the customers. I’ve met some great characters along the way and will retain many friendships. I’m going to miss the staff and customers…”