Sales Director Simon Mooney reflects on his 25 years at Park

25 years is a long time at any company, especially in this day and age! So, why am I still here and how did I become operations director, you might ask? Probably because I am the one who says ‘you can’t do this!’ I became known for checking into rules and regulations around health and safety and the title stuck!

My journey with Park began when I was appointed as a sales rep back in 1992. My background was in technical lighting having joined the industry as a youth trainee at a Hebburn-based lighting control gear company in a research and development role.

I was there for five years then moved on to a small lighting specialist distributor in Birtley until they sadly went into liquidation.  As part of my role I was introduced to Park and I got to know managing director, Barry Wilkinson, who offered me the position as a salesman.

As a new company Park needed sales so, with my background in lighting, I used it as an advantage over the competitors. I steadily built contacts and the lighting design department soon grew.

Many colleagues here at Team Valley today have been with me on my journey. Our now operations manager, Lesley Johnson played an important part in the department for many years buying, order processing and coordinating deliveries. Lesley has been at Park for 16 years.

Karl Snowdon joined Park at the tender age of 16 as a business admin trainee and has now been here 12 years. Karl has an important role to play as lighting design manager and will no doubt look to take over my position when I eventually retire, but not just yet…

For young people coming into the workplace my advice has always been to put the graft in. There is no race, learn as much as you can. People are often too quick to jump around in jobs when they don’t have all the skills or knowledge.

So, why have I stayed at Park for so long? Because I have been well looked after.

The culture is laid back but everyone is expected to do their job. The company has low absence and sickness records which, hopefully, reflects the enthusiasm and commitment to work from all staff. Why? We are dependent on each other, we work in small groups and we come together to be part of a bigger team.

The company is progressive, everyone has an ambition to make it grow. There are always opportunities and I remained as I had the chance to climb the ladder and ultimately become a director. No-one gets overlooked.

Time is spent on training and Park invests in its people. Interestingly, all our training and experience has been learnt at the company with knowledge being shared and passed onto teams.

Reflecting back over the last 25 years, there have been key stand out moments! For me, moving from Birtley to the Team Valley in 2003 marked a change in the business. We moved to a much bigger building and it changed people’s perception as to what we could achieve.

I am proud to have been a part of the last 25 years. I have facilitated the opening of branches in Sunderland, Newcastle and Teesside while also being involved in the lighting department.

Project wise, there have been hundreds but a standout job for me was lighting up Baltic square in 1999 for the millennium celebrations. We designed built, and supplied 88 bespoke ground-mounted colour changing LED uplights long before LEDs were a common sight in the North East.

You can see how much we have grown with the scale of the projects. 20 years ago, we were pricing £5,000-plus now it is up to £1million.

The challenge is to remain at the forefront of sector activity, to work harder and smarter and that is what we do at Park. Within the lighting design department, we always look at ways to tweak designs so time or money can be saved for the client.

During the recession, we thought outside of the box. Even in small ways, such as opening our offices earlier so that a potential customer would not go elsewhere. We always look to do something different, to push boundaries and we will change our processes if we believe we can make them better.

So, what do I want to do now? Simple, to grow the lighting department! Currently it makes up 20% of Park’s sales, I want to get it to 25% and beyond ensuring that it remains important within the business. Colleagues in other specialist divisions have the same goals to grow and that is what makes us a great team.