Getting to know you: Ian Baxter

What do you currently do?
I am the main investor in and Chairman of Baxter Freight, a new fast growing logistics business. I started Baxter Freight earlier this year with Peter Isler and Steve Rafferty, former Sales Director and Finance Director respectively of RH Freight, a £135m European freight specialist where I was Managing Director for 16 years until my brother and I sold the company in 2011.

After leaving the company I took some time out, but ultimately decided I missed the cut and thrust as well as the relationships that being in business offers. Since moving into new premises in January we’ve established a team of over 40 people. This will rise rapidly to 100 staff next year and our business plan is all about building a £100m turnover enterprise by 2017, so quite some growth story if we can do it!

Our USP is that we provide a single point of contact for all our customers’ freight requirements, whether they are domestic, European or overseas, from small parcels to pallets and full loads. The freight market is so complex, even for large companies, that we felt we could make a difference by creating a one stop shop for customers and making things simple, cost effective and reliable for people.

What’s your inspiration in business?
Having done well financially out of the sale of RH Freight, my motivation now is to enjoy working with a great team, building a fresh business with something original to offer in its sector. Our focus is on discovering the real needs of our customers and constructing freight solutions around them. So many freight companies want to do things the other way round – by shoe-horning customers into the products they have. My view is that if we focus on making Baxter Freight a great place to work, a fair partner for our suppliers and above all a high quality, cost effective and reliable service provider for our customers we won’t go far wrong.

Who do you admire?
I’d have to go for Warren Buffett, the world’s most successful investor, and Richard Branson, perhaps Britain’s most successful entrepreneur. I have huge regard for Warren because he takes a long-term view and, in his words, has tended to “over-trust” people by comparison to most businessmen. He has made about $50 billion from scratch through trusting people and being trustworthy himself, which has obviously worked for him! To me, business and indeed all of life is about building trust with the people you deal with and then reaping the reward of that. If Warren is true to the “anti-hype”, he still lives in the house he did 50 years ago and remains a very modest man. The great thing about Richard is he has always positioned himself as the customers’ champion, providing great service for a reasonable price. My view is if you can’t add value for your customers in a long term sustainable way then you shouldn’t be in business. If you can, you will most likely be a success.

What defines your way of doing business?
People focused. Business is all about building long term relationships with staff, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. People have heard enough about unethical business practices and at Baxter Freight we want to do our bit to prove that businesses can be a force for good in society and of genuine benefit to all our stakeholders.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t do it unless you have a passion for what you do, are prepared to keep going when the going gets tough and are confident you can add value for your customers. If you meet these tests then give it all you’ve got. Try not to worry about mistakes or failures – the only people who never make any are those that don’t try anything. My confidence has come mostly from recovering from difficult problems rather than from the things I got right. Once you overcome a challenge you know you can handle the next one. If you have the right plan, being in business is the most exciting, challenging and rewarding thing you can do. While being an owner may make you wealthy, the principal reward is to see for yourself the results from something tangible you have built. I feel so motivated just walking into our building and seeing the great team we have. It’s brilliant!