When did you join the business?
My dad is Managing Director Mike Long so I’ve grown up with VAS. Officially, I joined the business in 2012, although I spent many school holidays prior to that taking on various roles. I’ve worked on the shop floor, stores, customer service, marketing and sales and now where I am today as Head of Vacuum Products.
What do you enjoy about working for VAS?
I enjoy getting out and about meeting customers. All are different; in their needs and sector so each interaction is unique. We have customers in the medical sector, military aircraft manufacturers and even a customer that builds Formula One and performance car gear boxes. No customer or day is the same.
It’s great to build that relationship from scratch by listening to the customer’s story, what their challenges are and what they are trying to achieve as a business. I take the time to get to know them so that we can provide excellent service.
What is a typical day like in your role?
As Head of Vacuum Products I’m responsible for ensuring our customers have the products they need, so will work closely with all department heads and colleagues. A typical day could consist of a day in the office working on costings, quotes for projects or service contracts, organising meetings and analysing sales reports. On the flip side I could be on the road, anywhere in the country meeting customers.
Who do you work with directly in the VAS team?
We are a small, family run business and the whole workforce works closely together as a team to ensure the operation is as efficient as possible.
What qualifications or training do you draw upon in the role?
Most of my experience and knowledge has been self-taught. Although I’ve officially been a member of the VAS team since 2012, I spent many summer holidays involved in the business and experiencing different roles and departments.
I have undertaken professional management courses, an accounting and marketing course and furnace manufacturer’s course. A recognised qualification to do the job isn’t needed, it’s based on experience.
Which parts of the job have changed the most since you joined the company?
We have seen major changes in terms of our customer base. We used to do a lot of contract heat treatment work whereas now it’s mainly in-house work with customers. We have also grown quite a bit, to a team of 36 people where we started with four people.
What is the best bit of advice you would give somebody starting at VAS?
The best advice I could give is to work hard you will reap the rewards. We are like one big family, and everyone pulls together to achieve the end goal. It can be stressful at times but it’s a great environment to be in.
What can be the most challenging parts of the job? How do you address these challenges?
Coming up against obscure projects! As we are predominantly a service business, customers call when something breaks down. The challenge is to respond as fast as possible so that customers can continue to operate their business. Time is money! As a team we put our heads together to come to a solution, it brings together knowledge and experience which is invaluable.
What are your interests outside of work?
I play a lot of golf and football! I play for Sutton United. When I’m not on the golf course or football pitch, my fiancé and I enjoy going on long walks with our Cockapoo called Ivy.
Tell us something nobody would know about you?
I completed the Three Peaks challenge for charity in 2013 with former Aston Villa goalkeeper Nigel Spink.