29th June 2021

I-COM Podcast: Expertise in innovation and leadership when scaling a ninth-generation family business

David Gascoyne

Today's podcast episode is from my Directions for Directors series where Ryan and I had the pleasure of chatting with our guest Barry Leahey MBE, CEO at playdale.co.uk. 

Barry is an award winner for leadership, turnaround, export & manufacturing, as well as featuring in The Telegraph’s Top 50 Most Ambitious UK Business Leaders. 

This episode, which goes under the title of ‘expertise in innovation and leadership’ describes how Barry Leahey became the first external MD of a ninth-generation family business. 

The family run business which originally dates to 1735, having had many changes over the years as it has progressed from a coopers, hoopers, and timber merchants, before evolving into the international playground equipment manufacturing company Playdale Playgrounds in 1978. 

Barry’s vision has again transformed the company – its gone from a domestic business selling playground equipment to an international supplier now exporting to 51 countries and increased the turnover by 300%. 

Ryan and I talk to Barry and discover;

  • How he moved away from a 'spray and pray’ approach to marketing and began measuring the ROI on all marketing to find out what's actually working 
  • Why sales and marketing is a science rather than ‘just blustering your way through’
  • Why their marketing spend is virtually the same as it was in 2004 and they get 400% more leads - all because they adopted digital very early doors 
  • Why their growth strategy was to commercialise the business and to be a little bit less nice 
  • The necessity for creating a culture of being accountable
  • His thoughts on adopting a culture of ‘fail fast’ 
  • Why being curious helps to be on the front foot all the time with digital marketing trends 
  • The importance of getting systems and processes in place before scaling to Europe and ROW 
  • His thoughts on self-belief and personal development

In this inspiring interview, Barry also talks about joining Jon Dutton and Jonathan Neill on the business advisory supporting the RLWC2021 (Rugby League World Cup which launches later this year in October 2021) to build engagement and best practice as part of the tournament’s commercial strategy. 

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Email podcast@i-com.net to work with David and Ryan to grow your ecommerce store.