IT could have been so different.
As a youngster, Steven Manning had trials with Huddersfield Town at the old Leeds Road.
However, life as a professional footballer back then wasn’t as glamorous as it is made out to be today – when his first task was to clean the stands following the match that week!
At this time he was also working as a lifeguard at Huddersfield Sports Centre.
The sports centre was also involved in wrestling, roller skating and other special events such as gymnastics.
The management saw fit to put Steven in charge of the roller skating, wrestling and gymnastics.
Nadia Comaneci, who won three gold medals at Montreal in 1976 and was the first female gymnast ever to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event at the games, visited the sports centre and Steven was given the task of looking after her.
This turned out to be more difficult than he anticipated as she wouldn’t come away from the vending machines in the cafeteria until he had bought her a number of chocolate bars – which didn’t please her coaches!
At this time, Steven was seriously considering sports centre management.
Instead, he joined his father at insurance brokers Wilkinson Rodgers, at Greenhead Road in Huddersfield – and embarked on a career which now sees him as managing director of his own business, Waterfront Insurance Brokers as well as business consultant to Sellers Travel.
‘’I have been an insurance broker for 30 years’’ says Steven. ‘’After taking my A-levels at King James School, I worked for my father, Gerald, who was co-owner of Wilkinson Rodgers with Gordon Firth.
“I worked three days a week in the office and spent two days at college gaining my BTec national certificate in business studies.
‘’I started as a post boy and progressed to household insurance, motor insurance and commercial insurance.
“I became an account executive at 22 and eventually managing director.”
In 2006, Steven sold the business on behalf of its shareholders to The Oval Group.
He continued to work for the organisation for a further three years before deciding to step out on his own – agreeing with Oval to buy back a number of his clients, who formed the base from which Waterfront Insurance Brokers was to grow.
Waterfront’s offices are situated at the bottom of Chapel Hill at International House, which is also the offices of Sellers Travel, one of the oldest established travel businesses in Huddersfield.
Steven’s family purchased Sellers Travel in December, 2009, so both companies now operate from the same premises.
Sellers Travel was established in 1987 and handles the business travel arrangements for many of Huddersfield’s leading companies as well as many other companies throughout the UK.
Sellers Travel also specialises in tailor made holidays and cruises.
A recent development was to bring well-known travel industry name, Tony Iredale on board to assist with the travel side of the business.
At the end of 2010, Tony was appointed consultant and the company achieved ISO 9001 as well as obtaining exclusive deals with Singapore Airlines and many other airlines and hotel groups.
The offices were refurbished and a new computer system installed and in early 2011 two further business travel specialists were appointed who had previously worked with Tony.
Sellers Travel is one of the few local travel agents to have the necessary bonding to encompass all types of travel arrangements.
They are also members of Advantage one of the largest group of business travel management companies in the UK, with a collective turnover of £500m – making it the 5th largest in the UK.
Waterfront Insurance Brokers is also a growing business and Steven believes this is due to the fact that the majority of the firm’s six-strong staff have worked with him previously – some of them for over 20 years.
‘’They all have various qualifications and strengths,’’ says Steven.
‘’We have a wealth of experience – and I will be making another appointment next year.”
While Sellers Travel benefits from its links to the Advantage Group, Waterfront Insurance Brokers is part of the Willis network of independent brokers around the country. “
“’Being linked with one of the world’s largest brokers provides us with additional resources.’’ says Steven
“It also provides added reassurance to clients that we can handle anything.”
Steven has lost none of his enthusiasm for the job.
“I like dealing with people and helping them sort out their insurance programmes,’’ he says.
“A lot of the time, things are straightforward, but you always come across things that are interesting and things you have never had to consider before.’’
Devoting so much time to setting up the brokerage business and helping the travel firm hasn’t left much time for relaxation – although Steven is a keen Town fan and has a season ticket at the Galpharm Stadium.
Any spare time he has is spent with his wife and four children.