Drawn from a wealth of expertise in the health industry, Mammoth UK designs and manufactures a range of mattresses and sofas featuring the company’s award winning Medical Grade Foam. The company’s science of comfort drives new innovations and technologies across its ranges. In this interview, Furniture News meets Mammoth's national sales manager, Gary Rhodes …

How did you enter the trade?

My first break was as a trainee sales representative for a subsidiary of British Vita in 1989. My job was to sell non-woven and furniture component products into the furniture sector. There was lots of cold calling involved and it was a great way to learn sales the hard way!

Who is your inspiration??

My first sales director in the bed industry - Ken Hutchinson. He gave me my first break into the sector and he showed a great deal of dignity and patience in dealing with both the sales team and customers. These were invaluable lessons at an early stage in my career.?

What has been your career high point so far?

Honestly, I still think it’s to come. I don’t like to rest on my laurels! However, being Sales Person of the Year, two years on the trot, whilst at Perfecta Beds is something I am very proud of!

… and the low point?

Watching the demise of Perfecta and Layezee Beds was a sad time in my career. When you have invested so much time and energy into a business for which you have a lot of affection, the failure of that business is so much harder to take.

… and the turning point?

Without question, it was landing the job as area sales manager for Perfecta Beds. I’ve never looked back since that day!

Describe a typical working day

In this sector there is no such thing to be honest. That’s one of the reasons I love working in the bed sector so much. But as national sales manager for Mammoth there’s generally a mix of meetings with agents, managing the sales teams, meetings with the team at Mammoth’s headquarters in the North East and generally organising the sales processes for an innovative, forward-thinking business. It’s all go and I thrive on the buzz.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?

I would most definitely be a sports journalist. I love sports of all kinds and I’d love to make a career out of reporting on sports and following developments closely. But for now I’m happy to settle for working with all the sporting elites who sleep on and endorse Mammoth mattresses!

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?

The NBF Bed Show in September – it’s one of the best things to happen to our industry. I really enjoy being a part of the team involved in organising and attending the show, from having a hand in designing stands to helping to organise offers and appearances. It’s a frenetic time in any bed business and I’m really looking forward to being involved in my first NBF Bed Show with the Mammoth team.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?

I think that there’s a general lack of consumer confidence in the retail industry as a whole at the moment. The uncertainty caused by Brexit is also an issue. People seem to be putting off the bigger shopping decisions at the moment, which is causing a bit of a slowdown across the board.

What company do you most look up to?

Obviously Mammoth. It’s such a forward-thinking and innovative business, which I’ve been impressed by for a number of years now. When the opportunity arose to join the team I jumped at the chance to be involved. Everyone here is so positive about the company and the products they design that it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the excitement.?

Further afield, I’m also impressed by Sealy. Their business model has always been so consistent and the team there is always developing the business and has some great people involved.

What would you most like to change about yourself?

My age … time is going far too fast!

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?

That’s simple. It’s the people. The bed industry is, in my opinion, one of the last trades to be people-led. Long may it continue.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!

When I worked at Sealy, new starters were always told that we did a fancy dress day at the annual sales conference. Not wanting to let down their new team, they always turned up in fancy dress, only to find they were the only ones out of the entire sales team in costume. One year we was in Bruges. The sight of Batman being chased down the main street by The Incredible Hulk, to the total astonishment of the locals, still makes me cry with laughter!

This interview was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Furniture News magazine.