Case study

Benn Brown: My experience of Help to Grow

Benn Brown is the Finance Director of Global Timber Products, a timber supplier based in Staffordshire. He’s recently completed the Help to Grow programme and with the help of his mentor, has developed a clear strategy, a more collaborative culture, and an ambitious growth plan for the company.

Key motivations and benefits

Benn started Help to Grow in March 2022. He saw it as an opportunity to broaden his skillset and to make improvements in the business: “My background is in finance, but my role at Global Timber Products has now evolved into more general management,” explains Benn. “Prior to me starting Help to Grow, we’d had a successful ten-year period, but I felt there was a lot of untapped potential. I thought that with a clearer strategy and direction, we could move the business to the next level.”

And that’s exactly what Benn has done, with support from his Help to Grow mentor. Benn has developed a clear mission, vision, and values for the business, as well as a growth plan with defined objectives for the next 12 months. This includes a target to grow turnover by 50% before the end of the 2022/23 financial year, and to aim for a 100% uplift in turnover over the next three years.

“It’s given the business a laser-focused vision on what we need to do to achieve growth in the next 12 months,” says Benn. “We now know where to focus our resources to have the biggest impact. Personally, it’s also given me the confidence to have a bigger voice in the business and to take responsibility for other areas that were not typical of my role.”

A wooden glamping pod being constructed

The value of mentoring

The Help to Grow programme includes ten hours of one-to-one mentoring. Benn was paired up with Martin Latham, an experienced leader and coach specialising in continuous improvement.

“The programme’s technical content and seminars were well structured and pitched at the right level,” says Benn. “Then the mentoring sessions were where you could really hone-in on the elements that mattered most to your business."

"Martin has been a really important sounding board for me. It’s been great to be able to speak to someone independent of the company, who has a lot of experience across many different businesses.”

The respect is mutual. “Benn’s influence on the business has grown significantly and I don’t think the firm would be where it is now without his input,” says Martin. “He’s done a great job of aligning everyone to a common strategy, even though this sometimes involved difficult conversations.”

Empowering employees

Benn has also used what he learned through the Help to Grow programme to build a more collaborative culture, where employees are empowered.

For example, Benn called a meeting between all the sales and marketing staff to come up with ideas for how they could improve sales and marketing. This had never happened before. “The feedback was positive,” says Benn. “The team suddenly felt like this was a collective target rather than one dictated to them.”

He gave them a task to source new product lines and they have already contacted suppliers in North America and Canada with positive feedback. One such opportunity is progressing to a potential supply agreement. “This one opportunity goes a long way to enabling us to hit our 2022/23 growth target,” says Benn.

Martin adds: “This wouldn’t have happened without that meeting and that conversation. To move the business forward, we needed to empower all the employees and be less reliant on shareholders, and this is a great example of the benefits of doing this."

"I’m now advising Global Timber Products in a non-executive capacity, and I am excited by the growth opportunities they have in front of them.”

— Martin Latham, Benn's mentor