Lawrence Washington, Managing Director, Purple Moose Brewery Ltd - ex LEAD Wales delegate
Delegate Name: Lawrence Washington
Position: Managing Director
Company Name: Purple Moose Brewery Ltd
Purple Moose Brewery opened in June 2005 in Porthmadog, initially supplying cask and bottled beer to North-West Wales. The business grew rapidly as word of our quality and consistency spread and customers became much more interested in the independent locally brewed beers becoming available. At the beginning of 2013 a brand new brew plant was installed, allowing up to four times the previous production capacity. Five different beers make up our core range. These are supplemented by seasonal special brews. Our beers are now available right across North Wales and over the border into England.
The brewery has won numerous awards for its beers including CAMRA Champion Beer of Wales, CAMRA Champion Bitter of Britain, Great Taste ‘Best Welsh Speciality’, as well as various international awards.
The main challenge I faced as the business grew, and it grew much quicker than I had envisaged, was staffing. Ensuring that the business had enough of the right calibre of staff was one thing, but looking after them efficiently was another aspect completely new to me. I soon found that managing my growing number of employees became more and more of a full-time job and that I had less time to accomplish my own work.
I joined the Lead Wales programme at a point where I was beginning to struggle to find the right balance between my own workload and managing my employees’ workload. What the programme taught me is that as a manager and a leader you have to trust your employees to take on some of your own workload in order to free up your time allowing you to concentrate on the more important issues and decisions within the business. Delegation is key. Look for the different skills available in your existing staff and make the most of them. This is also more rewarding for the staff as they feel they are being utilised in an individual way, based on their talents.
One of the most important lessons I learned through Lead Wales is that, as a manager of a business, you should effectively aim to make yourself redundant through delegating all day-to-day responsibilities to the capabilities of your staff. This then gives you the time and the mental space to properly direct your business.
The Lead Wales programme has definitely had a positive impact on me. I would like to think I have become a stronger leader as a result. I have been able to implement a new management and supervisory structure in the production department of the brewery, utilising existing staff. I no longer have the weekly task of production planning, rostering and ordering of raw materials.
Having my own time freed up meant I was able to project manage the whole of our expansion programme from planning in early 2012, through financing, to implementation and commissioning in early 2013. The project hasn’t been without its inevitable hiccups, but it has been very successful. The end result is infinitely better than our previous, much smaller expansion project, which I had another company project-manage for us because I didn’t feel I could manage it myself at the time. Our new brewing plant was delivered and installed on time and on budget without any down-time in production. I feel justly proud of having overseen this myself.