On the line with Gary Spence

This month, we speak to Gary Spence, our Senior Production Manager at our Hull site, about his years of industry experience, how he makes sure production runs smoothly, and what he likes to do when he’s not in the factory. Here’s what he had to say…

How did you end up in the leisure home industry?

When I left school, I was given the choice play professional rugby for Hull Kingston Rovers or Hull FC. I chose Hull KR because it gave me the opportunity to train as an electrician as an apprentice at A-Line Caravans, which was owned by the chairman of Hull KR. So, at 17 I began my career in the holiday home industry and here I am 45 years later. Since then, I’ve worked for a several manufacturers in various roles so it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about building holiday homes and lodges.

What brought you to Victory?

The opportunity to start from a blank canvas isn’t something you get offered every day. I was given the opportunity to set up their new production facility in Hull from the ground up and now, seeing it operational fills me with a huge sense of achievement. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved since opening, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful team here at Victory – which is another thing that made me want to join.

What do you love most about working for Victory?

You’re free to express yourself and be heard by everyone, including the senior team. To be let loose on a project and getting true recognition at the end of it isn’t something I’ve experienced before. With Victory I’m always encouraged to think outside the box and try new things, which is what I love the most.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I’m usually on site before everyone else so I can check everything’s in order before the busy day begins. When the team starts to arrive, I make sure everyone is here – if not, it’s easy to shuffle people around because we’ve trained them to be multi-skilled in a variety of areas. Once the production line whirrs into life, I spend my time measuring performance to identify areas we can be more efficient or processes that need further development. Each day I also take the time to walk around the site to make sure everyone’s happy – my door is always open, and I encourage everyone to speak to me if they’ve got an idea to improve the production line, or just want to chat about life at Victory or at home.

What innovative technologies do you have on the production line at V2?

When I first came to Victory, I noticed a few things that we could do better and set out to improve our processes. One of the biggest upgrades we’ve made is the introduction of the roof turnover rig to improve build speed, but more importantly the health and safety of our team on site. I also made sure that the Hull site had capacity to build units of any size so we can build bespoke homes, like the Embla, which further enhances our offering to our customers.

How do you motivate the production team at V2?

I make sure everyone feels part of it – we’re a big family and just because I have “manager” in my title doesn’t mean I’m more important than them. When times are tough, we talk about it and find a solution. When I see hard work, I give praise. It’s like rugby – when one member of the team is down, the whole game suffers. But when the team is motivated and driven to succeed, you win the game. I’m the coach trying to keep everyone’s morale at its peak. It’s important for everyone to see how their hard work contributes to the Victory success story

What has been your most memorable achievement in life?

It’s cliché but my family are my biggest achievement. I have three sons and all of them have worked in the holiday home industry at some point. It’s only my eldest who’s stayed in the industry, but I’ll support them in whatever they choose to do. I’ve also completed seven London marathons over the years for charity which, looking back, it a decent feat. I’m pretty sure my running days are behind me now…

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to keep fit – whether that’s open water swimming, going to the gym, or cycling around the countryside, it’s good to keep your mind in check. I’m also training for a triathlon at Castle Howard in July – I’m just hoping my new knee holds up!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Keep your shape, keep your cool and keep the teamwork going.

If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

I’d probably say Nelson Mandela – I imagine he’d be quite interesting to talk to and could tell a good story or two. I’d also love to meet a sportsperson, but I don’t think there’s a table big enough for the amount of people I’d want to invite.