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Kevin O’Grady: ‘Building customer relationships that last a lifetime’

No matter what work you end up doing, make sure you enjoy what you do. Irish sales representative Kevin O’Grady (58) received this wise advice from his father upon starting his first job. Last year, he celebrated his 25th anniversary with Heras UK. ‘Heras is not just a company that I work for, it is a company where I feel I belong.’

As sales representative, building and maintaining customer relationships is part of O’Grady’s daily work. ‘I visit all sorts of clients, from contractors and architects to managing directors. In most cases to discuss follow-up projects. I provide advice and actively contribute ideas for solutions. I’m usually involved at an early stage of the project. Giving a presentation for architects is one of the things I do.’

From father to son
O’Grady is proud of the network of valuable contacts that he has made through the years. ‘Some family business that have been clients of mine for years have passed from father to son. It’s not self-evident that the new managers will turn to me for support, but so far I’ve been able to retain all of my clients. It’s wonderful to see that the relationship between Heras and these family companies remains strong, even after a succession.’
Listening to others
There are two aspects of his work as a sales representative which are particularly important: talking and listening. And he’s good at both things, as he says so himself. ‘They may seem like minor or simple skills, but over the years I’ve discovered that most people don’t listen to others at all. Or they’re unable to communicate at different levels. I can relate to and have meaningful conversations with everyone in the company, whether it’s the cleaner or the managing director.’

The reliable option
What sets Heras apart from other suppliers is its wide range of products. ‘Nine out of ten times, I can offer customers a solution that exactly fits their needs,’ says O’Grady. ‘Our fences, gates and security solutions may not always be the cheapest, but many people end up choosing us because we are a reliable and respected company. We always deliver on our promises, and our customers know that. If they place an order and need the materials in three weeks’ time, they can be sure we’ll deliver on time.’

New management
O’Grady still finds his role challenging even though he’s been with the company for many years. ‘Heras UK has a new management. This means you have to invest time in building a relationship with the new managers. Obviously, this goes both ways, because they have to get to know us too. Another goal I’ll be focussing on is further building the Heras brand, and doing so with as much enjoyment as possible.’

Wise lesson
O’Grady remains as committed to Heras today as when he joined the company 26 years ago. What’s his secret? ‘When I started my career, my father told me: “No matter what work you end up doing, make sure you enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy what you do, then stop doing it.” I always kept this in the back of my mind, and I pass this lesson on to others.’ Besides being passionate about his job, our Irish friend also enjoys sports. ‘I love equestrian sports, in particular show jumping. I also enjoy watching – and playing – cricket. I don’t let the fact that I’ve had a hip replacement stop me!’

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