Bri-Stor Group CEO
Growing up in Staffordshire, just a few miles from the family business, Martin Smith spent much of his childhood watching his parents build Bri-Stor Systems Limited (Bri-Stor is an abbreviation of British Storage). Today, as CEO of the Bri-Stor Group, he reflects on his own career and the tough lessons he learned along the way.
“Growing up in the 80s and 90s I didn’t see a lot of my parents; they were always at work and I suppose looking back I didn’t really have a full appreciation of their hard work and what it meant for my future. At that time, I spent a lot of time playing sport, in particular cricket and hockey and enjoyed playing at a reasonably high level. As for school, I was a challenging lad to say the least, I was a bright kid and I loved my school, but I was quite mischievous and was often looking for clever ways to distract my mates and the teaching staff. That said, I did pretty well in my GCSEs and A Levels, and the turning point really came for me when I was 18 and took up a place on a four-year degree at Bath University, studying International Business and Foreign Languages.”
In year three of his degree Martin started a role at Peugeot, based in Paris, a turning point in his future, as he explains: “my role at Peugeot really changed my view of the workplace. I’d always done well academically but this was my first opportunity to really get stuck into something outside of education. It was an incredible experience and built my confidence no-end. It was never a given that I would work for Bri-Stor Group, far from it, my dad’s view was “you make your own way son” so that’s exactly what I did. I worked flat out at Peugeot, rarely seeing anything other than the inside of the office or my tiny flat – but it was a solid grounding.”
Graduating from Bath University and gaining experience in the world of manufacturing and engineering, Martin felt he was set for a career in the family business, he tells us what happened next: “I can recall the conversation with my dad about joining the business and he was adamant that I had to go and find out what my value was in the world of work. What he meant was, go and get three job offers and we’ll talk about a job at Bri-Stor Group. So that’s what I did, I got offers from three global management consultancy businesses and my dad’s response? “Well done son. You can have half the salary and you can start in the paint shop, on the night shift” – so that’s exactly what I did.”
For several years Martin worked night shifts, day shifts and a combination of the two. He worked in all departments learning the shopfloor skills required to run the business and eventually became Production Manager in Alpha Manufacturing, he continues: “It was pure hard work, but to this day I remind people that you shouldn’t expect somebody to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. That mindset has stayed with me throughout my career in the Group and is a strong part of our culture today. I look at how hard the teams work throughout the business, but what really stands out is the strong team ethic that underpins it all. As we welcome new Apprentices into the business, I know we are giving them the very best opportunity to develop a successful career.
Bri-Stor Systems Managing Director
Simon Webb, Managing Director of Bri-Stor Systems knows all about hard work. Leaving school in the 80s, his first experience of engineering came about when he started a four-year Mechanical Technician Apprenticeship at Portsmouth based firm Dunham-Bush Ltd. .
Group HR Manager
At just 17, Karen joined the Bri-Stor Group as a receptionist. Unsure of her career path at that point, she loved the vibrant atmosphere of the Bri-Stor Group. Today, almost three decades on, Karen holds the most senior HR position across the Group
With almost 30 years working in the Bri-Stor Group, Neil Prescott has seen the business from every perspective. It’s with this unique insight that Neil leads the prototype team and works closely with engineering colleagues to deliver the industry’s most advanced van conversion systems.
Customer Handover Manager
Joining Bri-Stor Systems in January 2020 as Customer Handover Manager, Andy Skelton is entirely focused on the customer experience. With first-class credentials working as a service manager for one of the world’s leading automotive brands before becoming an account manager in the van conversion sector.
New Product Development Manager
Describing the new product development (NPD) team at Bri-Stor Systems, NPD Manager Stefan Callear explains that the team’s broad range of expertise and skills gives them a unique advantage when it comes to bringing value to the engineering process.