Peter Lathrope, Sales Consultant to Fourteen IP Group Companies, shares his career journey
Tell us about yourself and your career background?
At a very young age, I took a Saturday job where my Dad was working as a Precision Engineer… I became fascinated by all types of technology which led me into an apprenticeship in Electronics.
Once I’d completed my apprenticeship I progressed into R&D electronics and PCB design. Eventually, the company closed their UK operation and I moved into field service initially for fax machines and then after deregulation for PBX systems too.
From this I joined a value added distributor as a Technical Support Specialist for the Toshiba PBX and then over several years moved through the company to become Technical Support Manager, Marketing Manager (where I was asked to write the company’s website in raw HTML!!!) and finally dipping my toes into sales and adding sales manager to the mix.
During my time at this company, I developed a 3rd party software interface for the Toshiba PBX that allowed complete PC call control of the system to give additional functionality such as click to call, screen pops and even hot desking. This resulted in me being invited to demonstrate these developments to Toshiba in Japan as well as a value added Toshiba distributor in the US.
When the distribution company was sold I decided to work directly for a manufacturer and joined NEC UK as Technical Support & Product Manager for their “new” NEAX range of PBX systems. Having worked at NEC for a few years I was asked to head up the division and added Sales and Marketing to my list of roles and responsibilities.
During this time, we worked with a value added distributor and a range or resellers including a company called Ashland Communications which had in its employ a young (well these things are relative!) Neil Tolley. With the help of Neil and several other resellers, NEC UK became the company’s third largest subsidiary with Japan being number one and America number two.
NEC corporate decided to break into Europe and did this by partnering with Philips Business Communications, however, as part of the deal, Philips Business Communications insisted that the NEC UK PBX business was handed to their UK office. This resulted in me managing the transition and then effectively making myself redundant!
From this I took some time to start my own company, GKD (GKD is the initials of my three children Gary, Kerry & David), initially developing and selling Kit Cars. The GKD EVOLUTION was awarded the 2006 Car Of the Year in Which Kit magazine!!!
As time progressed GKD started diversifying and offering a range of business support services such as product marketing, general marketing, competitor analysis, application development, etc.
During this time, I kept in contact with a few of my old colleagues such as Neil. Neil contacted me one day and asked me to write a configuration and pricing tool for a small little PBX system they were selling… the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the variety. It allows me to be involved with so many different facets of the business. I am genuinely enthusiastic about Fourteen IP and the services offered and enjoy discussing them with potential customers. It’s also great to think “outside the box” and come up with ideas to help speed up installations, continually improving the estimator so that it configures, prices and also automatically produces the proposal documents and last but certainly not least to be involved with developing and packaging services to create new products.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
I probably work about 7~8 months of the year from the UK with the rest of the year being a combination of short one week trips throughout the US attending meetings and trade shows with 2 or 3 much longer trips of 4 to 6 weeks based out of Orlando.
Typically, the routine is the same. Before even getting out bed I grab the cell phone… sorry, mobile phone, and check emails to see what has come in overnight. Once anything urgent is dealt with I then go to the gym for an hour or a very long 10,000 steps around the block. When I get back it’s a case of prioritising anything that has come in and then working through any outstanding actions as well as reaching out… sorry, calling customers and sending out proposals for hosted telephony and SIP trunks.
There’s a lot that we are currently working on with regards to sales opportunities, but there are also ongoing ideas around new products and how everything is packaged and priced.
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Challenging, varied & fun.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Trying to keep a work/life balance. Due to the long hours and 24/7 nature of hospitality, it’s extremely hard to turn off.
What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?
Apart from somehow managing to persuade my wife to marry me and having three great kids, we were a foster family for 12 years looking after lots of children from birth to 17 years old. At times this was extremely challenging but also very rewarding.