A Coffee with James Sutherland, managing director at Dortech

A Coffee with James Sutherland, managing director at Dortech

Our MD, James Sutherland, was recently interviewed by The Huddersfield Examiner all about Dortech, running a business and how he relaxes away from the office. If you missed the original article, catch up below…

What’s your business motto?

Put our customers first and don’t get distracted by the competition. We keep focused on doing what we do best, every day!


How do you make contacts which are useful for business? 

We’re fortunate in that, having been established for over 25 years, we have strong relationships with our customers and a solid supply base.

Our clients are at the heart of everything we do, so we treat each project we undertake as an opportunity to further strengthen our connections.


What makes your business different? 

We have diversified by looking at new channels to provide our goods and services. This includes the design, manufacture, installation, ongoing maintenance and direct supply of glazing products.


What do you always have with you? 

My notebook – without it, I’d be lost. I rewrite my list of priorities on an almost daily basis and back these up on my iPad and iPhone, just to make sure I don’t forget anything. I also carry a pair of trainers around and try to get out for a run every so often, time permitting.


Do you dress-up or dress-down for business? 

When I started work in our industry, the unspoken rule was to dress smart – always wear a tie, ensure shoes were polished and be clean-shaven. However, with many companies in the construction sector, there has been a move towards more relaxed work attire.

This is something we embrace at Dortech. We spend half our lives at work, and I personally think it’s important to feel comfortable when we’re there.


Which person has inspired you most in your business life and in what way? 

It’s got to be our chairman – who also happens to be my father. Whilst I don’t like what he tells me a lot of the time, I often find his comments are generally right.


What’s your proudest achievement in business? 

Surviving and fighting through some incredibly difficult trading conditions during the last recession.

This taught me a lot about resilience and the fact that ‘it’s not just business’ – it’s the livelihood of over 50 people who have committed themselves to this company, plus a number of suppliers and customers who have stuck with us through thick and thin.

To pinpoint the exact moment, it was in 2014 when we turned the business back into profit, retained over 90% of our staff and launched two new successful divisions – maintenance and online retail.


What’s your company’s greatest asset? 

Our chairman, who occasionally gets wheeled out to poke holes in our business strategy, remind some individuals we trade with of their moral duties, and to ensure he gets his fair share of biscuits!


Do you use social media and if so with how much success? 

Social media is an integral part of our marketing strategy. It’s growing in importance every day and you have to embrace it.

We operate across a number of the more recognised channels very successfully, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. We believe it’s vital to communicate across all platforms.

While we recognise that life moves pretty fast these days, social profiles tend to work as newsfeeds, so it’s really important to segment your target audience – meaning they receive relevant messages at a day and time they’re likely to read them.


If you hadn’t gone down your chosen career path, what would you be doing? 

Something creative. Anything associated with video production, drawing or 3D design.


Give us one tip for a successful business 

Don’t base all your communications around email, as excessive use isn’t conducive to building strong and lasting relationships.

Pick the phone up, speak to people and meet them face-to-face. Don’t expect to get a positive response if you decide to send someone a five-page, emotive email at 10pm, the night before they go on holiday. Remember that people have lives outside work and be respectful.

At what time of the day are you most creative or inspired? 

After I have dropped the kids off at school and I’m driving to work, in silence.


How do you relax away from work? 

Relax? Not entirely sure how I can define this, but I like to be close to my immediate family, either cooking, assembling furniture, configuring iPhones, playing dad taxi or housework (the never-ending project).


When do you take your coffee break? 

I don’t. There’s always something going on in – or outside – work. Coffee ‘on-the-move’ is how I get my coffee fix.


Who would you most like to have a coffee with? 

Phil Knight – Nike’s founder. I found his book – ‘Shoe Dog’ – inspirational and would highly recommend it to anyone starting or growing a business.


What’s your coffee break favourite?

A strong, black espresso.