Getting to know you: John Broderick

John Broderick

What do you currently do?

I’m managing director of Broderick’s:  a luxury coffee and refreshments company.  We see ourselves as the pioneers that have changed the face of vending: with 4,000 vending machines across the UK, we’re proud that buying a drink or snack from a Broderick’s machine is anything but a distress purchase, it’s a treat.  Our clients range from household names like Sky Broadcasting and Amazon – whose offices we keep well refreshed – to airports, libraries and universities.

We’re about more than just vending machines though: we have a number of boutique coffee bars too:  one at Manchester Airport and in business districts to name a couple.

What was the inspiration behind your business? 

We’re a family business, which was set up in 1969 by my father, John Broderick Snr, who is still very much a part of the business as chairman.  My brother Peter and I have now taken on the mantle too, and our inspiration is taken every day from our father’s approach:  from the very beginning he has stood by the ethos of never compromising on customer service.

Our outlook in terms of innovation is the same too:  from leading technological advances in v-commerce – with our touchscreen vending machines, first installed at Manchester Airport – to being amongst the vanguard of businesses offering fair-trade coffee in the 1980s.

Who do you admire? 

For brand creation and diversity, David Beckham:  he has created a multi million pound brand from nothing – quite an achievement!  For resilience, determination, and dealing with adversity: Nelson Mandela.  His contribution to human rights was staggering. I recently visited the place where he was held captive and it was an extremely humbling experience.

For imagination, Solly Solomou, founder of Lads Bible. What a success story!

Anything you would have done differently?  

On a personal front I wish I’d taken up playing the piano far sooner. I was 40 before I started and I love it! I find playing the piano a wonderful way to relax:  it’s a brilliant creative outlet, pure escapism!

As far as business goes I would have followed our instincts and implemented change even faster than we did. I would have diversified a little earlier, opening our Broderick’s coffee bars around the time of the millennium instead of just six years ago. This move was a significant milestone in our company’s success story: it created fabulous brand awareness as customers are able to share our passion for Broderick’s great coffee and good food too.

I also wish that maybe we’d re-branded from our original name of Manchester Vending to the Broderick’s name that people know today a little sooner too. All in all though I think I’m comfortable with the way everything has turned out so far.

What defines your way of doing business?

The business is built on four principles:  Be fair, be open, be on the ball, and be flexible. Being fair and open are simple credos to live by: my mantra is to treat people the way you’d like to be treated yourself – being decent takes you a long way in life and all our business relationships (many of them spanning over 30 years) are built on trust.  

Being open can also mean being open to new opportunities and innovation too, which can massively differentiate a business and this ties in with being flexible:  if a client’s needs change mid contract, we move with them and we proactively embrace new technology, not just at contract renewal time!  The vending sector isn’t known for being dynamic, so we’re really dedicated to standing apart from the rest in this way.  

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?  

Don’t treat it as a day job.  Successful businesses grow from a foundation of passion and commitment, with a dollop of determination thrown in.  Don’t be put off by setbacks – use them as learning experiences.  The contract you missed out on?  Find out why you lost out and set about plugging any gaps to make your business stronger.