Originally hailing from Bolton, life wasn't always a straightforward success story. Her first job? Pulling pints at the age of seven in her parent's pub in Accrington. Speaking on her experience of tavern training, Hilary proclaims "I was so young that I could barely reach the beer taps, and certainly not the optics!" Whilst her brothers went to school, a young Hilary cleared tables and stocked shelves. Did she regret working a bar in exchange for academia? "Not at all. The pub was a crash course in working in a demanding environment, teaching me the basics for the successful monitoring of both product and cash flow, and perhaps most importantly, learning how the general public behave and think. The time in a pub, and on a market stall selling china, taught me how to sell, and set me on the path to Pall-Ex." In retrospect, it seems Hilary's early acquaintance with the working world set her up for profound success, with her Father seemingly providing a huge influence on her strong work ethic. Hilary tells me "my Father had a heating company and he went bankrupt in the early sixties when a supplier further up the chain went under. It was no fault of his own and he persevered and succeeded. He once told me 'you chase money and it runs away' and that holds true."
The concept for Pall-EX came to Devey when working at package delivery company as a sales clerk. Hilary heard a client explain how long it would take delivery pallets to be transported from one city to another and saw an opportunity to drive efficiency. She hit the road to speak to haulier members (something she was used to - she moved school 13 times in her parent's pub pursuit.) Hilary proposed the idea that hauliers could now share the delivery of goods to destinations on the same route rather than allowing empty trucks to travel miles to one stop. Hilary had revolutionised British distribution and created a new framework. Today, the company celebrates fourteen years of supply chain excellence and is ranked amongst the UK's leading logistics providers. Furthermore, sales are now over £100m, receiving 17,000 pallets of goods per day and filling 350 lorries, with regional depots across the country.
Ahead of Hilary's phenomenal success within her own business, I ask Devey if she is willing to divulge any information on external projects. She mentions Gary Martin, Founder of Table Art - a unique business which provides high quality illuminated art pieces as table decoration at major events, weddings and award ceremonies. Hilary is now Chairman for the company, as well as investing just under half a million pounds. Perhaps Gary's similar humble beginnings as a DJ for his Father's company enticed Devey, or was it Martin's ambition to take the company to a worldwide market? "I met Gary in 2010 during the filming of The Business Inspector. His enthusiasm and commitment to the business was infectious, and beyond this attractive quality, a closer study of the Table Art model revealed it to be sound and I could see the potential for it's expansion within the UK and overseas. The fact that the firm was based in the Midlands was another appealing factor, as Pall-Ex's HQ is within this part of the country." Convenience aside, Hilary considered the talents that she could bring to the company that would be genuinely useful. "I don’t make whimsical, vanity investments and realised that the transport and organisational experience that I had accrued at Pall-Ex could be of real use to Table Art." What were Hilary's plans for Gary's concept in terms of getting the product exposure across a feasible market? "We have re-launched the website, and Gary has just opened a London showroom that allows the company’s products to be brought directly to London-based events industry professionals and decision-makers." I also ask Hilary whether she has any of her own personal projects in the pipeline outside of Table Art and Pall-EX. "In terms of my professional career, I am soon to film a new series of Dragons Den, and my biography is due for publication in May."
Moving on to the magazine's theme of technology, I ask Hilary where she see's the future of business with the constant advancement of companies into the inevitable arena of online......See our March issue for the rest of Hilary's interview and more! Follow the link to our digital magazine here: