RICHARD COOKSEY believes that a great business leader should be able to set out a vision
and communicate it effectively to the workforce. He has been busy doing just that since he
joined JPA Workspaces as chief operating officer in December 2020.
Richard says: “Last year the owners of the company set about working out where to take the business. They took the decision to bring me in at the end of last year. My key focus is to drive growth throughout the business, improve efficiency and further improve on our excellence customer service.
“Since then, we’ve looked at how we can communicate more effectively, both internally and externally, and how we can remain sustainable as a business. I’ve also been keen to highlight the value of continuous improvement and embed it within our business. How do we seek new ways of doing things? How can we help our clients adopt new ways of doing things?”
Not only has JPA sharpened up its business processes, it has also invested in high-tech equipment to ensure staff have the best tools at their disposal to do their jobs effectively.
“Our new customer relationship management (CRM) system means we have a better overview of client issues so we can resolve issues quicker and improve our service,” says Richard. “We also have a new telephony system which gives staff the ability to be contacted remotely. This is particularly useful if they’re away from the office on site visits.
“Our new e-commerce platform makes it easier for clients to order new furniture and manage their stock. We’ve also brought in a new marketing agency to help us streamline our promotional activities so there’s plenty going on! By doing all of this, it puts the company in a far better position to be competitive and grow in the future.”
Richard is an experienced chief operating officer with a strong track record of improving efficiency, growing revenue and profit, and achieving business goals. His vast experience means that he knows the value of encouraging staff to buy into a company vision.
“You’ve got to outline how it benefits them,” he says. “It can’t just be a case of company management dictating what’s going to happen. Employees have to be brought along for the ride, otherwise there’s a danger that they’ll switch off. We have a quarterly business update so staff continually understand how we’re moving the business forward and why.”
Established in 1974, JPA Workspaces is an independent family business specialising in the contract sector and providing complete furniture solutions for its clients. The company provides a range of services that solve real-life furniture issues faced by clients, from planning and selection of new furniture through to repairs, maintenance, removals, storage, reconfiguration and end-of-life re-use and recycling.
JPA is also renowned for its sustainable practices and won both the Green Award and Inspiring Business of the Year Award at this year’s Inspiring Herts Awards.
“We were recognised in particular for our commitment to sustainability and our work during the COVID pandemic,” says Richard. “We supplied furniture to NHS hospitals and trusts and repurposed rooms to prep them for COVID. We also set up vaccination hubs.”
It’s clear that JPA is making a positive difference to local communities across Hertfordshire. This is largely due to the leadership of the management team but Richard is keen to highlight the importance of JPA’s skilled workforce.
“You’re only as good as the team around you,” he says. “The team has welcomed me and their buy-in and acceptance of our ideas has been fantastic.”