“At school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I left when I was 16 and then I went to a training college”. One thing led to another, and they set Mark up with a job at an accountancy firm. Alongside this, Mark attended Business accounting at night school. “I really enjoyed it at Texas Instruments, I was the assistant accountant and eventually I progressed through the job to be on management training”. Unfortunately, not long after they decided to close the Plymouth firm, so Mark lost his job.
Mark then applied for an accountancy position in Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London. “I was only 21 so thought sod it I could do that!”. Mark attended his interview at the United Medical and Dental School, and 10 minutes after leaving the interview he was offered the position.
Whilst in London, Mark part completed his CIMA Qualification in Accounting, but after just over 3 years decided it was time to move back to Plymouth. “I had several accounting jobs with Hayes Accountancy temping and in my off days, I would help my father who had an alarm business, so one job was to help him pull cables around the barracks in Plymouth”. All this was to gain as much business experience as possible in as many different fields. He then set up a recruitment agency; called Mploy, with his brother Ben. “The agency did really well, it lasted until 2003 when employment law changes made it a difficult environment”. Mark tells us that business doesn’t come without its struggles, explaining that Mploy went into liquidation. “Income started to drop as we had a big contract with Chelston Meadow with a high amount of staff there, law changes meant those employee could obtain contracts direct with the council, so it became really difficult”.
“We’ve had successes and non successes, and you learn from every one”.
So, how did he go from accountancy to Inch Recycling Solutions Ltd? When Mark met his wife, Alison in 2000- he alternated between living in the States and the UK for 6 weeks at a time again temping in Accountancy on each return visit. Then in 2002 I got offered a permanent role within the NHS. “After our first child was born I was fortunate enough to be able to work for the NHS from our home in North Carolina, so I worked for about 18 months like that”. Unfortunately, the NHS business section I worked for closed , Mark was offered a relocation to Newcastle but took voluntary redundancy. “They made some grave errors in the redundancy and my boss at the time and I set up a private company to recontract to the NHS for the production of the year end accounts”. The money which we made from this we invested in new ventures.
Mark first decided he would start an electronics business after a 15 hour flight to Hong Kong from New York to visit a large electronics exhibition. “We had this money, and we had the company. So I decided I would be the buyer and my business partner at the time would run the warehouse and packaging back in the UK”. He tells us how they imported a camera- “we bought £50k worth of them; we spent £25,000 on a TV advert and we sold 4! But it was an experience to say the least and lead to a much bigger contract for us with Transcend”. Mark stayed in the States until 2009, the news of the recession and his dad’s deteriorating health meant he had to return to the UK once again.
In 2009, his brother Ben joined the Business. They ended up taking some excess stock from a large Plymouth based company and selling it on for a percentage. As a result of this, other Plymouth companies were approaching Mark looking to sell their stock.
It seems Mark Hinchliffe is very much a Yes Man with logical thought and his accounting background helps a great deal. “A lot of it is very much calculated judgement and a touch of luck!” He tells us of a series of fortunate coincidences- something that seems to happen a lot to this business owner! “One day someone approached me, asking if I buy office furniture. I said well I don’t know! But I went and had a look, and though- I could sell this. I went back to the office and this is how life works, within an hour someone called me saying they know a business setting up in Truro and they need 40 desks and a full office set up” Mark had a seller and a buyer in the same day.
Inch Recycling Solutions supporst businesses that require equipment and often covers catering replacement (some emergency), new business start ups, expanding businesses and businesses that go into liquidation and need to sell stock.
“Our main category is anything commercial. We buy anything that has commercial value, or that I’m confident I can sell”. Mark tells us that his phone is like a 24/7 hotline “If something breaks down, people give us a ring and we’ve usually got something to replace it that we can get to them fast, at a fair price”. This tends to be pubs, cafes and restaurants and odd occasions late on a Saturday night! Marks second most in demand product is office supplies. “We are one of the preferred suppliers for one of Plymouth’s largest business parks”.
Inch Recycling Solutions don’t just offer their services to Plymouth and the surrounding areas. “We go everywhere. We recently purchased all the assets of a café in Carlisle, and a Bang Olfsen and Samsung repair centre in Swindon. We’ve done jobs in Mayfair in London, and in March we were in Penzance and Southampton”.
Whilst we were having a wander around the warehouse space, Mark stops to show us something he is particularly proud to be owning. A huge, 4 piece wall mural portraying the Pilgrim Fathers boarding the Mayflower. “I bought it about 3 years ago. We were doing a job at the Quality Inn and I spotted it”. The Mayflower House- later named the Quality Inn, was built to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the Mayflower in the 1970’s, and the mural was commissioned to be behind the bar at the time.
“The Herald ran a piece to say it had gone missing, so I got in touch with them to let them know it was safe with me”. In January 2016, The Herald visited Mark to document the murals new home. As a result of this published article, Mark received a call from a dealer in Massachusetts, who predicted Mark could sell the piece for over $80,000.
“If I sold it, it would have to go overseas to the States and would never return back to Plymouth. I wasn’t going to let it go, it deserved to stay in Plymouth”. Mark is looking to do something with it for the upcoming Mayflower 400 celebrations.
We ask Mark what his biggest struggle is, now that the business has grown. “Staff is always an issue. It’s such a varied job, people either love it or hate it. Luckily now I have a really good staff. A couple who stand out are Aaron who has been with me for about 2 years now, and Dan who is relatively recent but has fitted in perfectly. Also in the office Andrea is on maternity but hoping to return soon and my Mother is helping too. We’re getting bigger every day, so the challenges are, every day is going to be different”.
Mark explains that his staff understands the importance of being sensitive in certain situations. “When someone’s just lost their business and I’ve done a deal to buy their assets, you don’t just want to go in there like a bull at a gate. I need staff who are sensitive to people’s needs, who understand what people are going through and who are respectful”.
So how has Inch Recycling solutions grown to fill a 9,000 sq ft warehouse to the brim with good quality stock? “We generally get customer through word of mouth. We’ve got a good rapport with customers and they trust me. Anyone who has not visited is always amazed after their first time”.
“Somebody will come here for one item and leave with a van load; it’s that kind of place!”
Mark makes a call to the Hidden Olive, a start up business that he helped out in the past. “They hit a point of change, so I bought and swapped some of their items, the money that they received from this managed to assist them in changing their goals and now they’ve really boomed! I wonder how many of those restaurants and businesses out there wouldn’t have been able to start up unless they had access to good quality second hand stock?”
So what does the future hold for Inch Recycling Solutions? Mark tells us that he is not building a company with the intention of selling it. “I enjoy it too much. I get a real thrill from the deal, whether it’s £10, or £1000. You get three happy sides to the equation – Client, Customer and IRS. It’s not always about the money; it’s about putting someone together with an item that they didn’t think they could have or afford”.