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Meet the Expert - Mark Brown

Browny’s Last Hurrah

The day is fast approaching, the day Mark Brown cycles off into the sunset to enjoy his well-deserved retirement. Mark, or Browny as he’s known to everyone in the business and the Barnard Castle community, has been at WS for 35 years, and what a great 35 years having him as part of the family.

Before he puts his feet up to enjoy the sunshine and a refreshing cold pint, we thought we’d sit him down one last time to get his thoughts on his working career and his plans ahead in retirement. If you know him well, you’ll probably be able to guess what’s coming.

Enjoy the read!


How did you become a part of this business? I was doing an IT course at college and joined on a work placement. I quickly realised I didn’t like IT that much.

What roles have you had at the Company? My first role was on the shop floor where I basically learned the ropes for about a year, I then moved into the office as an Estimator selling traffic Signs.

After a couple of years, I moved over to material distribution looking after the North East and Scotland as an External Account Manager, this was followed by a promotion to National Sales Manager.

In more recent years I have looked after key accounts for the company and specialised in window films.

Has there been a favourite role? The position of Sales Manager was the biggest challenge, but I can say they all have been extremely enjoyable.

Your biggest challenge whilst at the company? Recruiting has to be the biggest challenge. Recruitment is so important, and I was never one to hurriedly fill a position. I believe our sales teams (internally & externally) are the best in the industry and as such we have very high standards.

What has been your “crowning achievement” whilst working for WS Group 1832? Some of the recruits are still with the company and still doing a fabulous job.

How has the industry changed from when you first started to its current state today? William Smith was a conversion company offering Eurotext pre-spaced letters and logos for the trade. We had 2 ranges of vinyl available from 3M at the time.

Since then, we introduced the first large format digital printer in the UK, started a material supply division which we have since added so many ranges, I lose count.

On top of that we have put focus on the trade manufacturing side “Smith” with state-of-the-art equipment and utilising skills we already had in abundance.

In a nutshell we’ve gone from a few colours of vinyl to films that wrap cars for the stars, and window films which keep heat out, keep heat in, refract the sun's rays etc.

How do you see the future of the industry? I see the industry evolving the same as it has over the last 35 years. Maybe Vinyl wraps which hide solar panels to charge the electric cars.

The largest development will be that of the Architectural Films. It makes total sense, and they look so good, and with training can be applied with relative ease. I should know I did my kitchen in lockdown #1.

Funniest moment at the company? During a sales meeting someone walked into a patio door right in the middle of a very confident Account Manager’s presentation. He carried on presenting but everyone else in the room was crying with laughter. There have been many memorable Xmas party moments, but I can't remember them well enough to do a story justice.

True or false, if you cut Mark Brown open, he would bleed blue? My most embarrassing moment so no comment.

Your favourite food and drink? All food but Thai is up there and maybe Paella now. An ice-cold lager goes down a treat as does a G&T.

Likes? Cycling, golf, and beer!

Dislikes? Winter, it’s dark, cold, miserable, and I can’t get out on my bike. Waffling, I much prefer it when people just get straight to the point. Time wasting is a dislike too.

Random facts about yourself? Passed my General Flying Test on September 11th Yes, the very day.

I’ve cycled up Alpe D’huez and landed a micro-lite at the top of it, but I’ve never been up it in a ‘normal’ mode of transport.

I’ve won the Barnard Castle Golf Club Championship 11 times.

The most random fact I have, and nobody will be aware of this but back a century ago the Smith family manufactured manhole covers and within the town there was a competitive company run by the Downs family… I am actually a member of that family.

What are your retirement plans, and where are you going to live? The plan is to move to Tenerife, enjoy a bit of sunshine, do plenty of cycling, play a bit of golf, enjoy a pint or two, and just take life easy.

But before I do all that I need my second COVID jab.

Sum up your time at WS Group 1832 in one word? Fortunate


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