SCOTSMAN Mark McGinley has travelled the world with his work in textiles.
But now he’s happy to call Huddersfield home as he embarks on the latest phase of a varied career.
Mark, 40, a keen Celtic supporter who grew up near Glasgow, has spent half his life in the textiles industry – much of that time as a consultant helping to set up and commission factories in the Far East.
He embarked on his career armed with City & Guilds in textile techniques, materials and processes, woollen blending and spinning and loom mechanics.
Mark has amassed a wealth of experience, having worked in China for several years, setting up and managing factories.
He has also completed contracts for clients on Las Vegas Strip and elite hotel and casino chains worldwide.
His business, MGL Textile Consultants Ltd, covers installing, servicing and maintaining machines, through to training textile engineers and improvement of quality control and management systems – all with the aim of improving efficiency, product quality and ultimately profit and turnover for his clients.
Now he is using his knowledge and experience – along with his many contacts in the industry – to produce top quality rugs and carpet for the UK market with MGL Rugs & Flooring.
Mark and his partner Deborah Tipple opened a showroom at Salendine Shopping Centre, Salendine Nook, a year ago to provide a shop window for the retail business, which supplies floor coverings for the retail trade and individuals.
They include hand-crafted bespoke products ranging from colourful and quirky rugs for children’s bedrooms to carpeting featuring corporate logos.
The showroom has benefited from being part of a vibrant shopping centre, says Mark. And it is more than holding its own in the teeth of the double-dip recession.
“The way the economy is at present, it has been hard work,” Mark admits.
“March and April is traditionally quiet in the textile trade, but June has been much better.
“We are trying to do things a bit differently to the ‘mass’ retail sector by stressing the bespoke service we offer.
“We don’t stock mass-produced rugs and carpets. We try to source things that are just that little bit different and we hold a small amount of any one product so that people can get something more exclusive. They won’t buy a carpet from us and find their neighbour already has the same!”
Mark says: “I have very good friendships with six or seven factories which are now key suppliers to the retail business.”
Offering something different is the key for retailers in the current climate, says Mark. “The high street is saturated with same-again stores,” he says.
“If you just come along and open a retail business that’s the same as everyone else’s it’s not going to happen.”
While he continues to clock up the air miles, Mark sees the retail venture as the business he wants to develop – while gradually reducing his commitment to consultancy work overseas.
“I have been in consultancy for more years than I care to remember,” he says. “I have been setting up factories all over the world.”
Mark entered the textile industry straight from school – acquiring his qualifications and working for a carpet company in Scotland before moving to other manufacturers in Kidderminster and St Helen’s.
He already knew the importance of hard work.
“As a youngster I delivered fruit and veg to raise some money to watch Celtic,” he recalls. “They used to charge me adult prices because I looked grown-up!”
Having gained a solid grounding in the industry, he decided to set up the consultancy to work for himself. Contracts included ones to set up operations in Belgium and supply Axminster looms to the Far East.
“It was the engineering side of the business that appealed to me as a young man,” says Mark.
“But it was all about finding the right avenue. I didn’t want to be stuck in one place, which is why I moved to different companies.
“In time, the option to work abroad came up. It was a matter of keeping myself in work or sitting at home!”
Mark moved to West Yorkshire about five years ago – originally to fulfil some contracts for local companies – and decided to stay. “Huddersfield is like Scotland in that it has a great textile tradition,” he says. “It is also convenient to get to Manchester and Leeds-Bradford airports!”
And he believes the UK textile industry is poised for resurgence.
Companies used to move manufacturing offshore to take advantage of lower labour costs to make products more cheaply, says Mark.
But as consumers in those markets become more affluent, firms are under more pressure to increase wages – meaning manufacturing in countries such as China will no longer provide the same competitive advantage.
“The cost of manufacturing has doubled in some of these markets,” says Mark. “It is becoming viable to look at bringing manufacturing back here.”
And he’s already doing his bit to back the UK industry.
“We aim use more UK-manufactured products on the retail side of the business,” he says.
“We have furnished one customer with a bespoke carpet that has been made by companies in Huddersfield, Bradford and Sunderland. I’m trying my best to make sure we use UK suppliers wherever possible.
“My advice would be to keep things local as much as you can.”
Family: Partner Deborah and children Danny, 20, Jamie, 18, Josh, 14, and Connor, 12
Holidays: Visiting family ion Scotland. I see enough airports with my work
Car: Renault Laguna
First job: Delivering fruit and veg to make enough money to watch Celtic
Best thing about job: Building a business and providing customers with the personal touch
Worst thing about job: Lack of spare time
Business tip: Look to provide something different.