The UK’s leading sample manufacturer




We are back with another blog from our sequence introducing the individuals who create our team and make our company what it is today. We would like to introduce you to Mick Kennedy from the order office, who this year is celebrating 35 years working at Sampling International. WOW! MICK, 35 YEARS, THAT’S A LONG TIME. YOU MUST LIKE IT HERE AT SAMPLING INTERNATIONAL. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB WHEN YOU JOINED? Yes, 35 years, which is half my life. It is a long time but time passes so quickly here. I joined the company as Factory Manager back in 1988 when the company was very much smaller with premises in Drighlington. WHAT OTHER DEPARTMENTS HAVE YOU WORKED IN OVER THE YEARS? There is not much I haven’t done with the exception of a spell in our accounts department. In the early days, through choice, I used to come in early in a morning and help out in production wherever I could which really gave me a thorough insight into all the manufacturing processes. I could operate all the machinery we had (and even repair a lot of them) and could make pretty much any product we produced from start to finish. I think that’s why I ended up doing the specifications for the orders and purchasing of the components required until recently. I currently still control purchasing along with stock control and component picking for all orders. WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST OF ALL ABOUT YOUR JOB AND WORKING FOR SAMPLING INTERNATIONAL? Without sounding too cheesy I love my job. I take great satisfaction in striving for perfection at all times and in all I do. It needs to be correct; there is no such thing as ‘near enough’. If it’s ‘near enough’ then it’s wrong. I love the people I work with. Some of the staff I actually employed into the business many years ago and we have grown up together. We have a great team here who all have the future of the business at heart. While most people do take their roles seriously there is still time for a laugh and a joke along the way. We all manage to keep our sense of humour. YOU MUST HAVE SEEN MANY CHANGES OVER THE YEARS – HOW DIFFERENT IS IT TODAY COMPARED WITH 35 YEARS AGO? Technology has made the main difference. When I first joined the company we had very little machinery and pretty much all operations were performed by hand. We had one computer, 2 guillotines, a creasing machine and a couple of hand gluing machines. If there is now a machine which will take away the labour intensive tasks then we probably have it. However there are still many operations which need to be done by hand. WHATS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN? When I look in the mirror!!  No seriously, I think that has to be the improvement and advancement in the properties we have occupied over the years from humble beginnings to where we are now. HAS THE INDUSTRY CHANGED SINCE YOU JOINED, FOR INSTANCE ARE THE NEEDS OF THE CUSTOMERS THE SAME? Yes, it has changed as the business has expanded. When I joined we had 4 very big customers and quite of lot of smaller ones but the products were predominantly pattern cards for flooring, fabric or wallcoverings with some swatches and wallpaper pattern books. As we progressed, the emphasis seemed to turn towards larger volume orders of pattern books and carpet shade cards. The factory is very versatile and we still manufacture short runs and bespoke items. Are the customer needs the same? In a word yes. Customer expectations are high and always have been. They too have deadlines to meet and delivery times are still critical. We pride ourselves in meeting customer critical paths and communicating any changes. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT SAMPLING INTERNATIONAL THAT HAS KEPT YOU THERE FOR OVER THREE DECADES? I don’t really know to be honest. I have never been one for changing jobs, I have only worked for four other companies besides Sampling and one of those was for 19 years. As I said earlier, my work is very important to me and I take great pride in what I do. I also seem to have a natural ability or flair to do what I do so it becomes second nature. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY STORIES? Yes, I used to have a German Shepherd dog called Bonnie who came in to work with me on a Saturday morning. One particular Saturday the maintenance guy was levelling the floor and filling in some holes for ease of use for the pallet trucks. Bonnie decided to go walkabouts and seemed to have a knack of following the maintenance guy about and leaving her pawmarks in the concrete. After I apologised profusely he went around again re-levelling but to this day there are still one or two of her paw prints in the factory. CHOOSE FIVE WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF Diligent, Efficient, Approachable, Helpful, Respectful. Thank you Mick for your time today, it sounds as if you have had an enjoyable time working at Sampling International and long may it continue… May 2023 – By Sarah Roberts