Running my own business was important to me as I really could not work for anybody else; I was one of those young people who always seemed to know best and wanted to do things differently, but nobody would ever take notice of my ideas.
It became obvious to me that I would have to run my own business to get the satisfaction that I really needed. After working in factories which really did not suit me, I thought it was time to go on my own before I became completely institutionalised.
I started studying fashion at night school and decided to venture into the making of babywear, however, it became pretty clear, early on that this was not the industry I needed to fulfil myself. I drove a taxi for a few years, while starting a handyman service which turned into garden services. This was back in 1992. Not many people had the garden maintained in those days. I quickly took advantage of a relatively new market and a premium garden maintenance service. I built the reputation that was required to run the best service possible. The Duxburys brand was truly established. I'm very well known in our area.
So how did we get into the garden centre business? I was simply looking for a yard space for the garden maintenance business, but we ended up taking over an established garden centre business, which clearly needed an awful lot of work to get it where we wanted it to be.
My father has started a number of successful businesses from scratch and put his own unique stamp on them. He always invested back into the business. I guess I get most of my traits from my father.
It took a lot of hard work and we started off blindly as we had no experience in retail, but through trial and error, we got to the point where we started to have success.
So how did my family get involved? My wife Lesley was there from the start and she really does come up with some good ideas. Lesley now manages all the finances. My son Garry first came into the business doing deliveries and unloading trucks. He now manages all the deliveries and warehousing. My daughter Emma volunteered at the beginning of lockdown which was a great help. I quickly saw the potential in her and offered her the job. Emma now manages all products and customer orders instore and online.
We get a lot of customers through word-of-mouth from all over the country and lots of customers calling on the way back to London or Scotland. Being close to the M6, junction 29 makes it really easy for people to find us. We are always improving the centre because we really want customers to enjoy it and tell their friends and family about us.
We mainly specialise in garden furniture. The new trend seems to be aluminium framed furniture with deep cushions. One thing that I have noticed, is that people are prepared to invest in larger sets. The biggest surprise of all is that many customers have three of four different sets in their gardens such as a comfy corner set with a fire pit, a dining table with reclining chairs and maybe a Bistro set to catch the morning sun whilst having a coffee.