So why did we think David deserved to win?! Let us tell you…
David began his career as a wrapping mechanic at United Biscuits in Halifax in the 60’s, which sparked a fascination and enthusiasm for the packaging industry that has lasted a lifetime.
As much as he enjoyed his time as a mechanic he was keen to progress in life and saw machine sales as the perfect opportunity. This encouraged him to leave a comfortable position with no sales experience and he applied for a sales job selling shrink wrapping equipment. He got the job and found he not only enjoyed it but was very good at it becoming number one sales man in his first year.
After five years of this David wanted another challenge and so joined one of the industry’s leading shrink film manufacturers at the time. Again he was very successful not least because he knew where all the machines were!
One of his new customers just happened to be then a very newly established business called Yorkshire Packaging Supplies, a very small sub distributor but with growth aspirations. This was where he was offered his biggest opportunity and also the biggest risk of his life; to give up a successful career and secure position with a major international manufacturer of shrink film to join a tiny outfit in Dewsbury.
Always one to take the path less trodden that is exactly what he did, and you might think that was that and everyone lived happily ever after… if only!
After three years of rapid growth the owners looked to sell the business and so he bought it by remortgaging the house and taking on substantial debt even though he had a family with, at the time three young children under 10. The sort of thing that takes either bravery or stupidity!
Within a year of taking on all this debt, disaster struck with their single largest customer going bust. The loss of cash flow was immense and also plunged the company into a substantial loss making position without the strongest balance sheet at the time to weather the storm.
David described this as one of the worst moments of his life and went into a severe depression……for 30 minutes and then decided to fight back. He formed a plan within the hour and with the help of his old employer and an incredibly supportive back manager (they did exist then!) YPS survived against the odds.
It really cannot be stressed enough that without the sheer will and defiance at that time of David Johnson then YPS would not exist today. This event occurred in the same week as Black Wednesday and the start of the recession of the late 80′s and so it is no exaggeration to say for lots of reasons it took nearly a decade to recover from this.
It is also testament to the man that the relationship he developed with the then bank manager would last for the next 20 years. He became YPS non executive chairman on his retirement in the early 90′s until his death in 2011. Without him also YPS would not be here today.
A changing market in the 90′s provided its own pressures as is always the case in business and so with machinery sales becoming a major part of YPS, the name was changed from Yorkshire Packaging Supplies to Yorkshire Packaging Systems with an improved machinery and film offering which really has been the bed rock of the growth in the last twenty years. Indeed YPS has grown 60% in the last five years alone.
From less than five people in the early 80′s with sales of less than £1million to over 25 people today and sales fast approaching £10million as it reaches its 40th anniversary, it is incredible to realise it was nearly snuffed out before it was 10 and had to say the least, turbulent teenage years but came though it and is stronger today because of it.
Throughout all this, his principles and values have never once been compromised. David’s integrity is legendary as is his continued enthusiasm as he rapidly approaches 70 and still takes an active role in YPS.