Sales Director Gareth appointed HPP Deputy MD

Date published: 02 May 2024

Leading KBB manufacturer and supplier, Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), has announced Gareth Evans as its new Deputy Managing Director.

Gareth, who first joined the family-owned company when it was in its infancy 32 years ago, is stepping up from Sales Director and will work closely with MD Keith Wardrope, who heads up the company with brothers Martin and Stephen Hill.

“I’m chuffed to bits, and also proud of the achievement,” said Gareth, who began his career as one of three people in one tiny office dealing with customer service and sales.

“When I look back 30-odd years after coming to an interview with Stephen Hill, I didn’t in my wildest dreams think that I would end up here.”

The Oldham-based firm, which has a trade counter in Sheffield, makes and supplies board, doors, components and accessories for the fitted furniture industry, particularly kitchens and bedrooms.

It now employs about 200 people, distributes nationwide and is a trading partner with some of the biggest brands in the sector – EGGER, Kronospan, Blum, Sensio, Vibo and Reginox.

MD Mr Wardrope said: “It’s the right time in our business development to appoint a deputy MD and I would like to congratulate Gareth and thank him for the loyal service and assistance he has shown over many years.

“Gareth and myself have worked towards this goal for several years.

"He has shown great commitment and loyalty to making HPP the best it can be, not only from a commercial point of view, but also from a staff wellbeing perspective.

"A massive well-done Gareth!”

Now in his third stint at HPP, Gareth says he has twice ‘gone on a break’ to learn about the industry at different levels.

He added: “I’ve spent time at manufacturing level with Kronospan and Wilsonart, but my passion is distribution.

“The hustle and bustle, no two days being the same, and understanding supply chains at different levels has been brilliant.

“In distribution, my first job on the road was at FG Chambers / BCL, I’ll be eternally grateful to what I class as great mentors in Steve Ryley at BCL and John Blake at FG Chambers, companies that are no longer trading but back in the day were both recognised for the service and products they offered.”

However, Gareth says he’s always been drawn back to HPP by the people, especially MD Keith: “Out of the places I’ve worked, HPP is the place I have always been happiest.

"I know that saying the people is bit of a ‘cliché’, but at HPP it’s true - it’s one of our biggest strengths, there’s a hand shake, fist pump, even a hug, everywhere you go.

“Keith is an important part of it too and I’m not just saying that because he’s MD.

"During my first time at HPP, Keith was a customer.

"He had high standards that in all honesty made HPP improve.

"If you could keep Keith content, you could keep most customers content.

“Having the opportunity to work with Keith has helped me understand not just the industry, but how to deal with certain situations.

"We have a close working relationship which has enabled me to grow as a person.

“I’ll be working closely with him on a number of projects that will help me cement myself into the new role, changing from a more sales focus, which I’ve loved, to a more operational role.”

Part of the new role is to help HPP maintain its steady, manageable growth.

Gareth, an old boy of Crompton House School in Oldham, added: “Someone once said that sales is vanity, but profit is sanity, and it’s true.

"We’ll continue to embrace new technology to improve our systems but also service levels to customers and strive to set standards recognised as the benchmark for excellence in our sector."

And he has this advice for anyone launching a career in KBB: “Be a sponge, listen to people.

"This industry is full of people that understand not just sales or business, but how to deal with people.

"Use these people as mentors and absorb as much knowledge as you can.

"There are opportunities for everyone if you apply yourself well to what’s in front of you.”

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