Stedek’s Alex Page describes his rise from seventeen-year-old apprentice to Managing Director of a fast-growing fabricator
Alex, your dad Steve was one of Stedek’s founders. I guess that means you must have started working for the business very young?
Our Sales Director Richard always says I was born on the bench – but that’s a bit of an exaggeration!
I started working for Stedek when I left school at 17. Back then it was just a job, and my head was elsewhere – I was obsessed with becoming a Formula One mechanic at the time. But before long, I began to take it much more seriously.
In my first five years at Stedek, I did every job in the factory you could possibly think of. I didn’t get any special treatment just because I was the MD’s son. I had to start at the bottom and work my way up, and I’m really grateful for that.
By the end, it meant that I’d become an experienced fabricator, and got to know the business inside out in the process. Most importantly of all, it meant I internalised the Stedek ethos – an uncompromising commitment to quality and customer service, something my dad started, and that we still honour today.
In 2018, it’s exactly the same as the year Stedek was founded – if a product isn’t good enough to go in my house, it doesn’t leave the factory.
It sounds like you got an excellent grounding in the business during those first few years at Stedek. So when did you stop seeing it as a 9-to-5 job, and start seeing it as something you might take over one day?
When I was 22, dad took the decision to bring me out of the factory and into the office. For the first few years, it followed much the same pattern as my early days in the factory – I started at the bottom, worked my way up, learned about how the business worked and so on.
But the difference between the factory and the office is that in the office you look at the business much more strategically. That’s what I found the most satisfying – and it was during that period that I started to think that, one day, I’d like to run Stedek myself.
It was always dad’s plan to retire eventually – and once Richard had joined as Sales Director, we had that conversation. We started making preparations for dad to step back, and for myself and Richard to take on more responsibility, to make the transition as smooth as possible.
What do you think are Stedek’s key strengths as a business?
First and foremost, I think it’s obsessive attention to detail. We never take shortcuts when our customers’ reputations are on the line. Whatever we do, positive or negative, will reflect on them.
Rigorous QC checks take place at every stage of production to ensure the highest standards, and everyone who works here has the same message drilled into them from the start – like I said earlier, if it’s not good enough to go in your own home, it’s not leaving the factory.
To maintain that excellence, we’re constantly investing in new equipment, too. in the last couple of years, we’ve spent over £300k acquiring a Graf cutting centre, Urban CNC machine, 12 Jade end-millers, and a Graf welder. It’s very much a case of investing for perfection.
I also think we benefit hugely from being a family business. It means we’ve got access to decades of knowledge and expertise, but also the fresh ideas and technological know-how that, hopefully, the younger generation are now bringing to the table!