Getting to Know You: Chris Vincent

What do you currently do?
I’m the MD of V4 Woodflooring, a leading supplier of luxury, responsibly-sourced wood flooring, and Creator and MD of Concreate, which is a world-first on the British Flooring market. Inspired by the Beijing Olympic Village, Concreate uses magnesium oxide cement in a decorative panel to create a sustainable, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing alternative to a conventional poured and polished concrete surface.

I left secondary school with no qualifications and an ambition to become a F1 racing driver. Although I successfully competed in F Vauxhall and F Renault competitions, including racing for the Martin Donnelly team, I took the difficult decision to walk away from the profession after deciding that I couldn’t make a career out of the sport.

In 2001, aged 23, I turned my attention to enterprise, following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather who ran their own flooring business, and set up V4 Woodflooring with my older brother, Nathan. We launched our sister company, Concreate, in early 2014 and the business is going from strength to strength.

What is your inspiration in the business?
My grandfather and father are great inspirations, having set up a successful family flooring business in the 1950s selling and laying wooden floors. Following in their footsteps is a real encouragement and I’m motivated everyday with offering the best flooring products and delivering the best quality service to our customers – the rules in business that my family taught me from a young age.

Who do you admire?
Having a sporting background, there are many sportsmen that I admire for their determination and achievements. Particularly, Ayrton Senna da Silva, for the Formula One titles that he achieved and for dedicating his life to the sport that he loved.

In business, like so many people, I admire Steve Jobs for his entrepreneurial spirit and for building an extremely successful brand that is recognisable worldwide.

However, I think there are many people who do fantastic work and don’t receive praise and admiration and I would say generally, anyone that does a great job and wants to be the best in their arena, deserves the upmost respect.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
There’s nothing major that I would have done differently; I made the minor mistakes that a 23 year old starting out in business would make, but I’ve learnt from them and they’ve made me the businessman I am today.

What defines your way of doing business?
We’re a family business with family values; I was brought up to always be honest and fair and that translates to the way I do business. V4 Woodflooring is still run like a small company, despite being a major brand with a £13m turnover and 30 members of staff, as we care for all of our customers and always do what we say we’ll do for them.

Being forward thinking with an eye to the future and pushing product design is an important part of the way we do business. This way of thinking is what inspired the creation of Concreate, the world’s first flooring product of its kind.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
If you have a business that you want to start, go for it. I started V4 Woodflooring with just 10 pallets in a small rented warehouse distributing flooring for one single Austrian brand, but have successfully grown the business to design and manufacture two premium flooring brands, so don’t be afraid of taking the chance to run with something you’re passionate about.

You will come across hurdles, but you have to battle through. Throughout my career, I have struggled with dyslexia and lost half of our stock in one of our warehouses to a fire in 2011, but you have to pick yourself up and bounce back from adversity. This attitude, in addition to a lot of self-belief, will lead to a good business and make for a stronger individual in business.