Getting To Know You: Martin Hurworth, MD, Harvey Water Softeners

Martin Hurworth

Martin Hurworth tells us that you need to take more risks when you are younger and that failure really is the best opportunity to learn

What do you currently do?

Harvey Water Softeners manufactures domestic water softeners for homes in hard water areas that protect household appliances and prevent damaging and unsightly limescale build up. As managing director, it’s my job to give the people who make our business work the skills, the support and the space to be the best version of themselves in every area of life, not just at work.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Behind every great man is a great woman, so the saying goes. That was certainly the case for us – when Ann Bowden purchased a water softener back in 1978, little did she know this one decision would inspire her husband Harvey, a plumber at the time, to go on and build a multi-million pound business.

Not only did he quickly see the benefits that softened water can bring to homes with very hard water, as many in the Midlands and South East have, but he saw the big, heavy, slow and inefficient softeners on the market at the time and thought he could do a better job himself. So he set out to build a better one.

Many late nights later, the result was the Harvey Water Softener; the world’s first compact, non-electric, twin-cylinder softener that fitted neatly beneath your kitchen sink and could softened water continuously, unlike single cylinder competitors.

That’s how it started. In the years since we’ve grown to employ more than 300 people, selling thousands of water softeners every year across the UK and Europe and being recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Innovation last year.

What defines your way of doing business?

Helping people to become the best version of themselves. Everything we do comes from this approach which, in turn, helps the company succeed.

For our staff, it’s about making our business a fun, modern, diverse and flexible place to work that matches with how our people want to work nowadays.

For our customers, it’s about making their experience of buying from us as good as it can be every time, from that first sales call or email through to purchase, installation and after sales care. And it’s about making sure we continue to innovate our products as manufacturing and technologies advance.

For our history, it’s about remembering where we’ve come from and never forgetting about our ‘Harvey Values’, no matter how big we get.

And for our future, it’s about drawing on all the best bits from our team, the passion and emotion, but using them in the right way so they don’t interfere with the business side where numbers and figures need to be king. It’s about combining head with heart and making sure we’re a modern manufacturer that’s ready to sell to the world.

Who do you admire?

Richard Branson – for his energy, entrepreneurship and risk.

What would I tell my younger self?

Take more risks, and failure really is an opportunity to learn.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Bad decisions won’t necessarily kill a business, but indecision certainly can. Beyond that, don’t be afraid of seeking advice from everyone you can, before doing it your own way.