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Business ambassador for Torbay takes on export challenge

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 07, 2013

CHAIRMAN: Alan Archer is chairman of the South Devon Export Network

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QWhy was the South Devon Export Network set up?

ATo encourage local companies to expand their sales and capabilities to other world markets.

QHow will it benefit firms in South Devon?

AExporting offers a more diverse customer base, increases revenues, spread their risk and dependencies, it can also assist with evening out seasonal UK business.

QHow will it benefit firms in South Devon?

AExporting offers a more diverse customer base, increases revenues, spread their risk and dependencies, it can also assist with evening out seasonal UK business.

QWhat is your title in your own company?

AFounder and managing director, The Select Group of Companies Ltd based at Loribon House, Yalberton Industrial Estate, Paignton.

QHow has your company evolved?

AIt was established originally as Select International Ltd in 1988. It began life as a consultancy assisting US manufacturers in the HVAC industry to enter the new harmonised European Economic Community Single Market.

By the early 1990s Select Products International Ltd (SPI) had evolved into the company's physical production and distribution arm.

The next two decades have seen the business expand with the creation of five new businesses: Select Solutions, Select Facilities, Trade Counter Direct.com, Alert Technology and Advantage Products.

They are involved in product design and development, manufacture, production, distribution, e-commerce and satellite warehousing.

QHow did you come to start the firm?

AMy expertise in Plumbing/HVAC stems from early hands-on experience as owner/manager of my own plumbing and heating firm in the 1970s.

My career led me overseas in the late 1970s to a number of managerial sales and marketing roles within the Solar Energy and Refrigeration Industry in the USA and Japan.

Returning to the UK in the late 1980s, I established Select International as a consultancy assisting US companies to establish a presence in Europe.

QWhat others position have you held and continue to hold in the South West?

AI have held a number of voluntary positions including governor of South Devon College (past), chairman of Torbay Business Forum (past), non-executive director of Torbay Economic Development Company (current), business ambassador for Torbay, advisory board member Devon & Cornwall Business Council (current), executive member of the Heart of South West LEP Business Forum and executive positions in both South Devon International Trade Forum and South Devon Chamber of Commerce (past).

QWho has been your most significant mentor?

AMr Brian Taylor, senior vice-president at Sanden International, Dallas, Texas 1985-87, (now deceased).

Brian was a well-travelled, experienced business development executive who had lived and worked in the Europe, China, Japan and USA.

He was my boss and an inspirational teacher with an understanding of different cultures and business traditions and the importance of looking with a global perspective.

QWhat major challenges have you faced?

ATo continue developing innovative products with wide customer appeal, for instance our Alert range which are the world's first real-time detectors of airborne asbestos fibres.

Also, economic pressures and time pressures in developing and growing four unique businesses.

QHow would you describe your management style?

AIn colour personal profiling I am a "red" through and through. I am very much an idea's person and see possibilities in every situation.

I enjoy the 'big-picture', strategising to reach that picture and I never shy from a challenge.

I am enthusiastic, determined and I work hard and expect those who work for me to do likewise.

QHow do you keep enthused and keep things fresh?

A By bringing new ideas to the table, showing my own enthusiasm and leading by example.

Alan Archer is chairman of the new South Devon Export Network being launched on Wednesday November 20. See what he has to say about the group and also his own illustrious business career

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