the BIG interview

“If you are decent, consistent and fair you will win lots of friends in anything you do”

This month, in our keynote Big Interview feature, we speak to Steve Norris, Group Manager at Ipswich-based distribution company Pik-a-Pak. He talks about his career to date, the business he works for, his path to the top of this multi-award-winning company, and the importance he places on helping his retail customers in these uncertain times.


teve begins by telling us a little about Pik-a-Pak. “Pik-a-Pak is based in

Ipswich in Suffolk. We have been here since the company was founded more than thirty years ago in 1988. We are just ten miles from the port of Felixstowe the UK’s busiest container port. As one of the region’s largest importers, this is important for our continued development. We occupy a 4.5-acre site which is the size of ten football pitches for those like me who struggle with acres and hectares! The site has been developed over the last thirty years as we’ve grown which allows the team to be based in the same building and work together. We employ more than eighty people covering all roles from Product Design, Marketing, Sourcing, Purchasing, Sales, Customer Services, Warehousing and Logistics. I think the team has more than 550 years’ experience between them which is incredible. We like to keep everything in house so we can control the quality of service we offer. We promote wellness and training throughout the operation. I have a great team who are incredibly dedicated, and in return I want this to be a serious place to work where people feel valued – however, I also want this to be a fun place to work too. We regularly have coffee mornings, and wear pyjamas and fancy dress in the office to bring some fun into the workplace in support of local and national charities.” Steve’s life at Pik-a-Pak began on 22nd October 2013, as he explains. “I was working for a large privately-held Dutch company as General

Manager for the UK & Ireland, developing ranges of products for companies such as B&Q, Homebase, Argos and Screwfix. I had been with the company for eleven years, business was booming and I was very happy with my role. I was approached by a headhunting company who had targeted me as a great fit for Pik-a-Pak and I was told that they were very keen to talk to me. Initially I turned the approach down, but the headhunter was very persistent and after some weeks I agreed to meet with the principal of the Group. Instantly I was captivated by the ambition the company had for the future. A few weeks later I met the CEO of the business who was in the UK and he convinced me to accept the role. I joined on the 22nd October 2013 and after a day of introductions I was left in charge. I wasted no time sitting down with the whole team to learn about the company. This really helped me set out our vision for growth with Customer Service at the heart of that proposition.”

I have a great team who are incredibly dedicated

Steve is the Group Manager at Pik-a-Pak, a

senior role which he likens to that of Managing Director in other companies. “I guess in most organisations I would be called the Managing Director. The role I have is MD in everything except title, essentially I run an autonomous business which is part of a worldwide group of companies. I have the independence required to set and execute the direction for the business ensuring we grow profitably and ethically. I have two Senior Managers who look after Operations and Purchasing & Marketing, while I look after Sales as a secondary function with the help of two Sales Managers and a National Account Manager. These five people report to me directly. I believe in management through people and building great teams, so I have coached and empowered the team to be able to look after the day-to-day running of the company. I’m driven by challenge and change and firmly believe that “if you do what you did, you’ll get what you’ve got”. In this changing retail landscape, you have to be bold in your convictions whilst being agile enough to be supportive of the needs of a diverse customer base. I don’t think I could have forecast the speed of change we have seen in retail in the last six years, but I know I have a team of people who are willing and able to execute the changes required by our customers.” Steve’s previous experience in business makes it clear why Pik-a-Pak were so keen to persuade him to join the company. “I’ve worked my way up through the traditional sales route, from Area Sales Manager, through National Accounts to Sales Director and onto General Manager/MD. I have worked for blue chip manufacturers like Kimberly Clark and Newell Rubbermaid, and also

10 | December 2019/January 2020

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