15 minutes with… Mark Tate

Better Wholesaling enjoyed 15 minutes with Mark Tate, co-owner of the Midlands’ largest independent fresh produce wholesaler, George Perry, who told us more about his professional and personal life.

Better Wholesaling: What is your role at George Perry?

Mark Tate: I am the co-owner, together with my brother Paul, and also one of the six sales staff we employ.

BW: What was your first-ever job?

MT: I was going to be a pro footballer when I left school, but I sustained a bad injury in the first two months of my YTS apprenticeship, and that finished my pro-career. I played semi-pro up to the age of 45, though. I “popped down” to help my dad out in the wholesale business, and I’ve been here ever since.

BW: What does your average day involve?

MT: Arriving at work at about 2.15am, we get on the phones to try and wake the grounds staff up. The first hour is taken up by fulfilling the orders that come in via e-mails from our regular customers, and then preparing the orders taken via our new e-commerce site, where we operate a click and collect fresh option, as well as deliveries. This is getting bigger every day as the public, and restaurants, are getting wind of it. We are due to start advertising the site, as this is the way our industry is going. After five to six hours of selling, we buy stock for the following days. Then, it’s upstairs to the office to overview the rest of the group, including George Perry Salads and our six Joe Richards stores. I’m also the chairman of Birmingham Wholesale Market’s fresh produce association, and have been the main voice behind the move to a new market site. I head home at 1.30pm.

BW: What do you take to work every day in your briefcase?

MT: My phone and a NutriBullet fruit juice, which complements the bacon and egg sandwich I’ll have from the cafe later. Everything we need is at work, but I log on to our network and surveillance cameras via my phone.

BW: What’s the best thing about working at George Perry?

MT: The atmosphere of the market and the quality of the team that we have around us. We are the biggest independent fresh produce wholesaler in the Midlands, so we have to be on the ball with all aspects. But, we make sure we have a good laugh and plenty of banter while we do it. It’s important to en- joy what we do, as we work in excess of 50 to 60 hours per week.

BW: How would your colleagues describe you?

MT: I asked them. You wouldn’t want to print the answer! But then they said, “a good leader who leads by example, with a larger than life attitude.”

BW: What do you do in your spare time?

MT: I enjoy time with my wife and dogs, I play golf, and I watch as much sport as I can.

BW: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

MT: ‘Manners cost nothing, so spend them like crazy’, and ‘never pat a burning dog’.

BW: Who would play you in the film of your life?

MT: The TV chef James Martin, because people tell me we look like twins! Although in reality, James Corden, I think.

BW: Do you know any jokes?

MT: ‘Why do all elephants have grey trunks? Because they all belong to the same swimming club!’

BW: What’s your approach/philosophy regarding your work?

MT: ‘You only get out of things what you put into them’, and ‘always look after the smaller points as sometimes these make a lot of difference’. With tasks you hate doing or people you don’t like speaking to, do them first. It makes your day much easier and happier.


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