Just before he retires from his role with James Cropper, Arqadia caught up with sales director, Geoff Leech, for a look back over his impressive 40 years of service.
Keen to get out of education and start earning some money, Geoff Leech left school at the age of 16 in 1972 and started working for a local paper mill. Little did he realise at the time that he would spend his entire career in the paper manufacturing industry and will have amassed an impressive 40 years of service when he retires this summer from his current role.
He was five years into his first job, when he was head hunted by custom speciality papermaker and converter (and one of the world’s foremost makers of coloured paper), James Cropper Paper, who of course is well known to us all at Arqadia – having been a much valued partner supplying our mountboards since 1977.
At the time, Croppers were making their foray into the world of exporting and, seeking someone with relevant experience, approached Geoff. He joined the company in 1977 as export administrator, moving on to become customer services manager, sales manager and finally to his position of art and framing sales director, a role he has carried out for the last 10 years and one which has taken him all over the world.
During his time with Croppers, Geoff has certainly made his mark and is a well-known name and face within the industry. He was involved in the initial meetings that started the Fine Art Trade Guild Mountboard Standards and was instrumental in developing these standards. He has won awards and met the Queen when she launched Croppers’ new coffee cup recycling plant.
He has seen many changes over the years. When he started out there were 50 paper mills in the UK; today there are just five. When Arqadia first approached Croppers for a range of mountboards back in 1977, there were just 12 colours available, now there are 270. He recalls that the boom in home ownership in the 80s impacted on the best-selling mountboard at the time, with 43 Ivory becoming the most popular colour as it perfectly matched the magnolia paint that was used on the walls in all new homes! The resurgence in the popularity of the paperback versus the kindle has been a bonus. Croppers has supplied the cover paper for six of the Booker Prize winning novels, as well as all the JK Rowling titles.
Arqadia was one of the first customers Geoff worked with when he started at Croppers. At the time, it was seen as an innovative partnership; the first time that Croppers had experienced working with the framing industry.
“We have been the exclusive supplier to Arqadia since 1977 and have built up a fantastic partnership with them at all levels of our business operations. They are leading the field by way of customer service and many of our competitors are envious of the relationship we have with them. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It is borne of a long relationship and mutual respect and understanding the needs of our two organisations at the various stages in our development and growth.”
We at Arqadia would like to thank Geoff for the tremendous work and dedication he has shown to us over the years and wish him all the very best in his retirement. We understand he has made no particular plans, other than to continue his great passion for fell walking with his pet spaniel.
Having spent so much time travelling around the world with work, he is keen to explore more of this country and spend time with his family.