Outstanding Contribution to Business in KentBack to Winners
Sponsored by KM Media Group & Kent County Council
Paul Barrett MBE
It’s been quite a year for Paul Barrett – the man behind the Canterbury-based motor group Barretts.
In the New Year’s Honours List he was awarded an MBE for his services to fundraising and the community.
In April he took over the robes for his term in office as the High Sheriff of Kent – a role he describes as “like having an access all areas pass to the county”. Now he is being recognised with the KEiBA for his outstanding contribution to the Kent business community – and not without good reason.
The fourth generation of his family to run the east Kent motor dealership – it is fast approaching its 120th anniversary – he has been MD and chairman for more than two decades.
But his role in guiding the business, which employs some 420 staff across 12 showrooms plus servicing and parts operations, is just part of what makes him tick.
The rest is split between roles on various business organisations – the likes of the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership and C4B (Canterbury for Business) – and charities such as the air ambulance and Canterbury Cathedral Trust.
In 2007 he cycled from Canterbury to Rome to raise funds for the cathedral and five years later, pedalled from Olympia in Greece to London in aid of the air ambulance. He also “accidentally” volunteered to be part of a relay team to swim the English Channel.
But it’s his business acumen which has seen the company, first founded by his great grandfather, continue to prosper.
“My advice to anyone is your business needs to be customer centric. You have to look after them. But you need to support, nuture and mentor your staff too. You can have the shiniest buildings but if the people operating and working within it are not at the top of their game, the business won’t succeed.”