The Viking Blog

Business Success: Alex Ingham and MI Supplies

Business Success: Alex Ingham and MI Supplies

Last month’s
Business Success interview was with Ryan Green from
Romag
. He spoke to us about how they’re looking to take on more investment, reach untapped
international markets
, and grow by 300% in the future.

This month, we
spoke with Alex Ingham, CEO at MI Supplies.
He spoke to us about what makes them stand out from the competition, his
business ethos, and what his plans are for the future.

What’s the story of MI Supplies, in a nutshell?

After working for the bigger national companies in our sector, I was really keen to offer a more bespoke customer service, rather than a large, corporate, generic offering. I didn’t and still don’t think many companies have customer service as their number one driver, so because of this, MI Supplies was born.

How do you stand out from the competition?

We don’t look to deal with every company, we try to pick and choose. Because of this, we spend the time with the customer to ensure we can offer a tailored, bespoke service that completely suits the customer, rather than us. We are the only company in our industry who will guarantee to fix our customer’s pricing for two years on every product, regardless of any price increase we may incur. That has been a great statement to make since the EU vote, as pricing has increased by over 10% in our industry due to the instability of the sterling against the euro/dollar.

Describe your workspace. Are you tidy, or do you work in organised chaos?

I try to be tidy (doesn’t always happen). I try to work to a daily list of significant goals to achieve. As a business, in all our offices and warehouse we all aim to work in a very clean and tidy manner, and our staff do a great job in achieving this. My workspace needs to keep me sane so there is music, cycling, and family photos to keep me going.

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Tea or coffee?

Coffee, with the odd week of having a healthy break from it.

How do you keep a strong work/life balance?

By reminding myself that there is more to life than work, not matter how important it is. I try to have in mind at least one thing to do with family at home after work and try to ride my bike as much as possible to get fresh air.

Which workplace habit can you not stand?

Not pulling your weight.

Who is your business idol, and why?

Clive Woodward. I read his autobiography “Winning” and that formed my decision to go and set our business up. I was inspired by his team ethics and style. Getting the best out of people by giving them clear guidelines of how you want things to be done and then delegate it. He also showed them work must be enjoyable, or at least a good environment to be in. 

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What is your management style?

Democratic. I believe in ensuring people enjoy work, which means delegating and allowing them to make their own decisions. I like to try and step back and monitor rather than “do” – doesn’t always work that way though!

What advice would you give to people starting their own business?

Read books, listen to people that have been in your position and, if possible, get a mentor. 

What’s your secret to success in one sentence?

Always ensure you can look people in the eye, be fair, and treat people with respect and ensure customer service is your number one motivator.

What will the future bring for MI Supplies?

The future is extremely bright for us at MI. We are growing significantly in a number of sectors and we expect that to continue and get bigger. We want our online offering to be the best workwear and clothing site for customers in the UK. I think we are well on the way to achieving that.
If you would like to become part of our Business Success series let us know on Twitter at @viking_chat.

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