We recently had the pleasure of talking to Tom Bunner, Managing Director of Eveque, the educational sports equipment manufacturer and program developer.
They’ve been a bright light in educational sports equipment and services since 1980. Synonymous with high-quality mat manufacture, school sports development and, more recently, climbing wall matting.
Tom was kind enough to answer some questions and give us a small insight into the world of Eveque.
We started off by asking Tom what he thinks, other than the usual hard work and long hours, has got the company to its current position.
“I’d say that Eveque’s success has been built primarily upon developing innovative sports programme and products.”
It’s not difficult to to detect another reason. The passion that Tom has for the business is easy to see. He has every reason to feel pride in Eveque’s achievements. Over the last 40 years they have been a major influencer in the development of PE in schools. These days, nearly all schools in the UK have some of their equipment.
The subject moved on to the current UK trading environment and, while Tom has concerns about certain aspects of the situation, he’s also refreshingly upbeat. From his perspective, things aren’t too bad. Some sectors in which Eveque are involved, such as the automotive industry, have stopped spending and that obviously presents problems.
Others however, like climbing walls, are doing very well and continue to flourish in spite of the challenging economic circumstances. Tom has a really positive feeling about the whole area.
“It is a nice industry to be involved in as nearly all wall operators are very passionate about climbing and their climbing centres.”
His biggest concern is education. In his experience, the constant squeeze on secondary school funding is showing no signs of letting up and that is having a negative effect on everyone involved in the educational world. Of course, it’s only one of the numerous challenges that face British business at the moment. Tom has a view as to which of them is the biggest, an opinion shared by many people.
“The uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Most businesses look for stability as it is hard to plan when the goal posts keep moving.”
For all that, he’s very optimistic about the future. Tom has a clear vision for Eveque and that is to provide flexible manufacturing solutions across a range of industries. When asked the hypothical question of who he would add to his team if there were no limits on choice, he has a typically ambitious yet pragmatic answer. Not a specific individual, simply a top entrepreneur who had has already made it and could help Eveque access new markets and scale up.
We inevitably touched on the subject of Tom’s association with the SPE. For him, its role shouldn’t be underestimated. The organisation gives a voice to the sporting goods industry, allowing members to share best practice and develop the necessary safety standards to ensure consumers are kept safe. He feels that it is more important now than ever that the SPE should be telling government about the issues affecting the industry. The serious funding problem in secondary schools needs to be resolved and the SPE can play a part in doing that.
The last question I asked Tom was what I’d learn if I worked alongside him for 12 months. His answer was characteristically modest - a greater understanding of sports development and manufacturing. I have no doubt I’d gain that and more besides.
If you have kids, there’s a good chance your little ones have used something supplied by Eveque. Mention Sportshall Athletics and school competition and you immediately think of them. But Eveque supply equipment for a huge variety of activities and they’re a hive of innovation.
Tom mentioned that climbing wall safety matting was an area in which Eveque are enjoying considerable success and have also found to be rewarding in terms of engagement with clients. The supply and installation of climbing wall matting requires bespoke solutions which means the company get to work closely with customers.
“Here at Eveque, we have a passion for what we do and it’s good to be involved with people who have a similar passion for their own speciality.”
Sport climbing is an increasingly popular activity - a trend set to continue with its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The combination of physical benefits and problem solving give it a broad appeal that’s different to some traditional sports. In many ways, climbing wall centres have become social hubs where enthusiasts meet and share a coffee, as well as taking part in an enjoyable pastime.
It’s just one of the areas in which Eveque provide custom-made solutions. You can see the full range of their products online at http://www.eveque.co.uk.