The Viking Blog

Business Success: Jess Penny and Penny Hydraulics

Business Success: Jess Penny and Penny Hydraulics

Last month’s Business Success interview was with David Ciccarelli, the founder and CEO of He spoke to us about how he’s bringing together voice talent with clients from around the world as well as his personal management style.

This month, we spoke with Jess Penny, sales manager at Penny Hydraulics, she spoke to us about what makes them stand out from the competition, her business ethos, and what her plans are for the future.


1. What’s the story of Penny Hydraulics, in a nutshell?

Penny Hydraulics was established by John Penny in 1978, starting off as a manufacturer of hydraulic garage and mining equipment. As the mining industry declined, we diversified into new markets, mainly producing lifting equipment for commercial vehicles. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength and now operate in 22 countries worldwide.

2. How do you stand out from the competition?

We offer a complete solution for companies seeking cutting-edge lifting equipment. This means that we can take care of the design, manufacture, installation, and training processes for our clients, so they don’t have to look anywhere else. We’ve also invested significantly in 3D CAD and stress analysis software, which allows us to create bespoke solutions to our clients’ problems.

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

In my office, I am probably one of the only desks with no paper. Working in marketing, you don’t require a whole lot of stuff. I can work with my laptop and phone, which is very flexible, so my workspace is very clean and tidy. I’m not confined to one desk or space, allowing me to move around freely or hot desk when required. This also comes in very handy when I’m travelling, as I can work on the go without much fuss.

4. Tea or coffee?

Both! In very vast quantities.


5. How do you keep a strong work/life balance?

My work/life balance is very tilted towards work – however, there are certain activities I always make sure that I keep up with in my personal time, such as netball and yoga. I feel that these help you to lead a positive lifestyle in which I’m always relaxed and able to run off excess energy. This feeds nicely back into the working side of my life too, as I never come into the office already stressed.

6. Which workplace habit can you not stand?

I wouldn’t say I have one particular habit that I can’t stand, but I’ve learned to appreciate that working in an open plan office has both pros and cons. This set-up gives us freedom to speak with one another easily and work in collaboration with one another – two or more heads are always better than just one, after all. However, it can be easy to get distracted by conversations and the collective volume of everyone talking on the phone.

7. Who is your business idol, and why?

I’m always inspired when I hear stories about engineering and manufacturing start-ups that have innovated to become successful. Hearing about how they have overcome a major problem to set themselves apart always gets me smiling. For example, there is a US company who work within the concrete industry who overcame expensive overheads by creating a rollable form of concrete that just requires water to be added. Stories like this are the type of thing that help me aspire for innovation in my own career.

8. What is your management style?

Relaxed. If you recruit carefully and ensure you pick candidates with the right skill set and personalities for the job, you’ll find you don’t have to micro-manage. Working in an open plan office ensures that I can hear everything that’s going on, and I meet with my team for a catch-up every day. This enables me to stay on the ball and be right at the centre of the projects we are working on.


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

I think that people just starting out are given lots of bad advice. They are told they need lots of complex business plans, and that they need to apply for this and that and create reports. This means they often miss the opportunity of getting out there, meeting new clients, and establishing a customer base – the cornerstone of any business. You should always look at who your contacts and networks are, and be thinking ‘can I utilise these?’. Getting bogged down in the finer details can often be the early death of a business venture.

10. What’s your secret to success in one sentence?

Have confidence in yourself and your own abilities – if you think you can do it, you can.

11. What will the future bring for Penny Hydraulics?

I am confident that we can continue to be a market leader in our position as one of the biggest hydraulics manufacturers in the UK, creating new and innovative lifting solutions for a range of industries. This can be achieved as we explore and expand our design and manufacturing processes through new expertise and technology.

I also believe we can continue to improve the environmental performance of our operation. On top of the green solutions and company policies we’ve adopted over the last three years, we will continue to look for ways to increase sustainability and lower our impact on the world around us.

If you would like to become part of our Business Success series let us know on Twitter at @viking_chat.

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