What it takes to stay in the marine business

What it takes to stay in the marine business
Trimline’s chairmen Gary (left) and Michael Oliver (right) are the sons of founder Gary Oliver (Image: Trimline)

“I have often been asked; how have we done it?” says Gary Oliver, chairman of UK-based interior outfitter Trimline. “The answer is not a simple one.”

After 55 years in business, the company is the oldest interior refit specialist dedicated to the marine industry. Formed when founder Reg Oliver decided to make use of his background in the upholstery practice of ‘trimming’ for the local marine market, Trimline has since expanded to offering full interior refits for cruise ships and ferries. His sons Gary and Mike completed their apprenticeships on the shop floor, before going on to become co-chairman when their father retired.

Over the years, the company has developed long-term partnerships with many of the world’s leading brands. Gary Oliver believes that responding quickly to client’s needs is one of the most important reasons for the company’s success.

“Listen very carefully to what your customers tell you and really get to know them,” he says. From building a specification to finding out what they are planning next, find out what they are thinking, remember it is they that control your world.”

He also suggests that if other companies want to achieve the same success, they should ensure finances are managed responsibly – and keep one eye on the future.

“Do not remove all the profits from the business,” he advises. “Save enough for a rainy day or even a recession.”

Trimline has also been celebrating the 40th anniversary of employee Barry Hurst’s first day at the company, and the chairman highlighted the need for a knowledgeable and effective team to achieve success in the industry

“Employ, and try your best to retain, really good people who are smarter than you are,” said Oliver. “The ego has no place in business.”

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
20 February 2020

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