Getting to know you: Guy Crabb


What do you currently do?

I am managing director and co-owner of workspace design and build contractor ODB Group. We offer space planning, interior design, mechanical & electrical design, independent furniture consultancy, fit out, refurbishment and interior construction services for business interiors.

My role involves keeping in touch with clients, visiting them and making sure they are getting what they need; reviewing proposals to check they meet client objectives; looking for ways to adapt the way we work to suit our clients; thinking about the business beyond the next six months; and sifting through all the emails I get to find the interesting stuff! 

What was the inspiration behind your business? 

It’s a bit of a ‘life’ story. When I left school I studied Art and Design, focusing on 3D design. I thought that was route I would go down, but I wasn’t sure of the job prospects so I turned down a degree course in Furniture Design to do a degree in Building Surveying. That was probably a mistake because it wasn’t something I felt passionate about and I dropped out – too much maths and law! After a couple of jobs doing artist impressions and technical drawings for high end residential extensions, enjoying getting my clients’ buy-in, I ended up in sales working for Rockwool, Pilkington and Marley before taking on a marketing role at Hunter Douglas. I then had a stint at an architectural salvage company – this was more heart than head and didn’t work out. Everywhere I worked was associated with the built environment and I would be forever championing my customers, but none of it was what I really wanted to do so I found myself moving around a lot.

I had been doing a part-time post-graduate diploma in Marketing alongside my day job and met a chap who worked at ODB Group. Workplace design was something I really liked the sound of. I suppose he and the people he introduced me to were the inspiration for me joining them. That was back in 1998 and I now own the business. 

Who do you admire?

James Dyson for his innovation and determination, Antoni Gaudi and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for beautiful architecture and design, Prince Harry for being his own man, unconcerned about what others think about him, and our staff for rising to the challenge time and time again.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?

I’ve often looked back and wondered how things might have turned out if I’d gone into furniture design. I could have ended up in the same field as I’m in now because they are so closely aligned. It might have taken me longer to get here but I love what I do and that’s what’s most important.

What defines your way of doing business? 

As a company, we want to develop and enhance our reputation for delivering high quality projects by putting customer service and attention to detail at the core of everything we do. As for me personally, I often describe myself as a frustrated designer. I still have design in my heart and want to create beautiful design solutions for people – not just things that are practical and work brilliantly but things that look great as well. I’m very much involved in the designs we put forward – often sowing the seed of the idea, even if it is designed by other people. I think that people buy from me because I’m thorough and that gives them confidence in me.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Follow your heart and do what makes you happy, everything else is secondary. Keep an open mind and keep looking – if I hadn’t found something I enjoyed, I’d still be floating from place to place without ever really progressing.