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The Journey from Apprentice Decorator to Director

3 years ago by Georgephillips

I left school in 1985 with what I considered to be ‘pretty average exam results’ so I decided to attend night school for two years to improve them and it became clear to me that I was meant to do manual works as I excelled in Woodwork, Metalwork and Art. Aged 16, I got my first placement in Liverpool to study Joinery and then got a work placement to do decorating and with a push from my parents who said “Go for it!”. 

Shortly after, I then got taken on as an apprentice P&D with Vale Decorators and completing a 4-year apprenticeship with Advance City & Guilds and stayed for 6 years making my way up to Senior Foreman by the age of 22.  

After getting married I was keen to progress my career and went in search of high-quality work in London. After developing my skill set further, I decided to move back home to both further my career and spend more time at home. I managed to secure a job in Liverpool as a foreman and within 12 months the owner asked me if I was interested in working in the office as a Training Manager, I was just 25 years old and I stayed with this company for 13 years. 

I was really happy at this stage of my career and with lots of hard work was finally in a management position with loads of experience and all by the age of 35. I was in some ways content, but I knew I wanted more both in terms of personal challenge as well as for the future of my family.

It was at a business event I met Craig Bell and it soon became clear from that Bell Group shared the great family ethos and values that I have as well as real ambition to grow. Soon after I meet Paul Steedman, George Bell, Ian Henderson and Craig Bell and I thought “WOW, these guys have taken the time to meet me and convince me to join the business. I want to be part of this”. 

My Bell Group journey began in November 2010 as Regional Commercial Manager and I was tasked with opening an office in Stoke and from day one, it was clear to me that I would be supported by the business to implement new ideas and bring in and develop people and new clients. After 5 years helping the region grow under the guidance of Paul, I was invited to attend a board meeting and was asked to bring some new ideas to the table. I was a little nervous but thought “It’s great to be sitting around a table with these inspirational leaders”. I enjoyed the day so much and after attending several further board meetings I was formally asked to become a Board Director in 2017.

The key message from this is that no matter where you start your career, with hard work, drive and ambition the sky is your limits. It might not happen overnight and in my case circa 30 years, but I am now a board Director of the country’s largest Painting Contractor currently overseeing 6 offices, 4 sub offices and I have responsibility for over 400 valued members of staff.

To all the operatives, apprentices, foreman, contracts managers and engineers across the country, if I can do it so can you.

John Jones