Friday, 24 September 2021
PHIL CHAPPELL and his wife Gillian run GPC Marketing from an office in Henley Enterprise Park. Originally from Poole, Phil moved to Henley in 1994. He is a keen sportsman who cycles, plays golf and was a committee member of Henley Cricket Club. He is a Reading FC season ticket holder. He and Gillian have three sons and also have a part-share in a racehorse, Hogan’s Height, which won three times last season.
Describe your business
We work with small- and medium-sized businesses that perhaps don’t have in-house expertise to help with their marketing strategies. We also provide training and mentoring services.
How many people does it employ?
There’s just the two of us but sometimes we bring in third parties who offer additional services such as
What did you do before you started this business?
While studying for a degree in economics and economic history at the University of Warwick, I helped run the Student Union newspaper and had hopes of a career in journalism. However, when I graduated in 1981 there were no jobs available so I got a summer job at Coral Racing and was put on their management course. I then came to Reading to work briefly as a commission-only salesman in financial services and I met Gillian. I replied to an advertisement in a local paper for a job at Perpetual to work with their investment team. I was hired and then spent 17 years working as an investment manager specialising in American funds. I left when Perpetual was taken over by Invesco and then worked in the City with Schroders and Scottish Widows.
When did you start your business?
What was your objective?
Having been able to walk to work at Perpetual, I became disenchanted with the daily commute to
London and Gillian and I wanted to do something together. We had different skill sets — I liked financial analysis and Gillian was good with social media. We combine well.
Do you have a mentor?
Martyn Arbib, who founded Perpetual, and Bob Yerbury, who became the chief investment officer, had a considerable influence on me.
What would you do differently if you were to start again?
Be independent from the beginning.
How is your business doing?
Better than last year — things have picked up recently.
How do you market your business?
Networking is an important part of our marketing strategy and I regularly attend the Henley Business Partnership’s monthly 3FM meetings, which are excellent. We issue a monthly newsletter and we are very active on social media. I am involved with Henley Cricket Club and run a golf networking group, Fore Business, and Gillian has been the leader of Henley Girl Guides for many years.
What’s the best thing about running your business?
Independence. I also enjoy meeting other business owners.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
It can be frustrating to do some training which isn’t followed through. We try hard to get businesses to commit to regular follow-up meetings in order to get the best out of the work we’ve done for them.
Where is your business headed?
We’re pretty happy with where we are but are always looking to take on some bigger businesses.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Perseverance is essential.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Keep learning, widen your skill base and continue to educate yourself, particularly in business skills. Outsource things you don’t enjoy or aren’t very good at. And get a good accountant!
What three qualities are most important to maintaining a profitable business?
Determination, a sense of humour and the ability to bounce back when things don’t go your way.
What’s the secret of your success?
Gillian and I genuinely like helping people and we get a good feeling when we see a business that we’ve worked with doing well.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
We invested in a business franchise which wasn’t as well supported as it was supposed to be. We could probably have done it ourselves.
How organised are you?
How do you dress for work?
What can’t you be without every day?
Space. Although I’m a morning person, I do like some space to prepare for the day ahead.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
We usually close the office and go home for lunch.
Do you continue to study?
I read lots of business books and keep up with the changing trends in social media.
What do you read?
I like reading detective books like Rebus. Also humorous books by people such as David Lodge and Nick Spalding. I’m interested in books on real ale and whiskies. I read the Henley Standard every week.
How are you planning for retirement?
I have a great lifestyle, combining business and pleasure, which I plan to continue doing for as long as I can.
13 August 2018
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