05 – LIFE STORY – OVENDENS
2018 marks a big year for the Ovenden family as they celebrate 75 years in business. We spoke to James Ovenden, Managing Director of Ovenden Papers (link) to find out how it all started, his plans for the future and what motivates him as a business leader.
“Ovenden Papers started in 1943 when my great grandfather Frank Ovenden and his business partner Stanley Everard opened the doors of their stationery company Everard Ovenden & Co Limited, in High Holborn, London, where they supplied local businesses with a fine selection of writing papers, envelopes and kraft wrapping paper. Over time they established themselves as a leading paper supplier to the city of London. Outgrowing several premises, they relocated in 1968 to larger premises in Epping where they continued to service London and the surrounding areas for the next 40 years.”
In 2012 with James now in charge, the company marked a significant milestone in their history by relocating to a 94,000sq foot warehouse here in Harlow in preparation for more ambitious growth.
James says that being a paper merchant is well and truly in his blood and that he is very honoured to continue the family tradition and work closely with the Hayward family in taking Ovenden Papers forward.
“This is a fantastic industry to be part of and continuing the legacy of Ovendens is a great privilege and one that motivates me every day. As the fourth generation of Ovenden to lead the company, I want to ensure its ongoing success and continue to build on the strong foundations that my father Michael laid down during his time at the helm. As a company, we collectively take a lot of pride in what we do and continually strive to give our customers the highest level of service.
Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for what they do and to do it to the best of their ability. Our culture focuses on collaboration. From the Chairman, my uncle Nigel, through to our delivery drivers, we have an openness about the way we work and we all share in each other’s success. This has created a really positive working environment and having strong lines of communication plays an integral part. Over half of our 84 members of staff have been with the company for over 15 years and together we make Ovendens. It’s a simple philosophy that has served us well for 75 years.”
Today, Ovenden Papers is the leading independent paper merchant in the South East of England supplying a wide range of papers, boards, envelopes and other products to the commercial print sector. With offices in Harlow, Ipswich and Croydon, the company has seen continued growth by consistently providing printers with an exceptional choice of materials at competitive prices, all held locally for same day, or next day delivery.
“Being an independent family run business we are very flexible and agile in the way we go to market. This gives us a great advantage with our customers. Like us, our customers are continually looking at ways to diversify and to generate new revenue streams and we are here to help them do that.
Over the next few years we will continue to develop these new markets while continuing to serve our existing customers with our traditional product and service offer.
With one eye on the future, James and his young management team are keen to develop the digital side of the business. “We want to ensure that our customers are able to trade and communicate with us in multiple ways that suit their style of doing business. We aim to becoming a seamless extension of their business and by working closer with them in a variety of ways we can provide them with an even greater level of customer service.”