Meet the team Katie Fishwick Managing Director

So as promised here is a little more insight into our team at Specialised and as you can imagine they are making me go first !!

Im sure many, if not most of you are unaware I'm Katie, official MD at Specialised but also the one who creates, deploys and misspells all of our social and website content but let me start from the beginning.

I am Carole and Douglas Longs daughter the founders of Specialised Covers and have been working in the business for many years and MD for the last few. In many family businesses you naturally take on multiple roles, mine currently includes, Marketing, Web Design and Maintenance, all our Social media, Advertising, HR, Health & Safety and occasional Counsellor…oh and MD, not sure where that part fits in!!

The above being said my passion lies within the creative side of our business. During the late 90’s I completed a BA HONS degree in Design Studies at Salford University and started working at Selfridges in The Trafford Centre on the shop floor, eventually becoming one of the stores Visual Merchandisers. I loved it there, being surrounded by the latest trends and fashion.

This later combined with my love of interior design led me to complete a number of building projects in Yorkshire which finally convinced me to return home permantely. I have often joked my true calling was to be a builder, I love the project planning and seeing the schemes come to life, but just a very well dressed one. Fortunately, at the time Specialised had acquired a number of properties and were looking to expand and move to larger facilities so at his point I started working on converting the properties back to houses and helping in the sales office.

As time pasted, I got married, had my two daughters and continued to be part of different elements of the business. I played a key part in renovating the current factory we are now in back in 2007 and later the second build phase in 2017 to double its floor size. I have designed and managed our website launches and creations, I have to add though, the last Magento 2 version nearly sending me over the edge!

I have been involved heavily in the process of the business, more recently implementing my own Management Team, as any family business will know this is some times one of the hardest things to do. I am very aware of my own limitations, Dyslexia being a big part of that which in turn makes me not very details driven, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be writing content for our social channels or website but no one else wanted to do it and at I least I have spell check !! This clarity has allowed me to fill my own skills gap with people who are like minded, hard working, detail focused and commercially driven, and who can cope with my nonstop swearing!. This was hard task but I have to say the team we have now, I am so proud of them all. Having gone through the pandemic and such uncertain times it has brought us closer and has also allowed me to lean on their knowledge and skills which has been a revelation. I could not have found a group of women more dedicated to moving Specialised forward than I have now and for this I am grateful.

As an MD I am very much a jump first and figure it out on the way down kind of person, very much to the heart stopping reality of my Management Team, who I have particularly put in place to counter balance my seemingly reckless behaviour! I do feel within every organisation there needs to be a fearless one, one who pushes the boundaries, dreams and doesn’t care if that’s how its always been done. I am terrible with numbers which I feel is a bonus (another one of my Dyslexic super powers) as they don’t cripple my enthusiasm or plague me with what if’s, I would always rather give it a go and get it wrong than be sat stagnant. I have however a very strong Commercial and Finance Manager who I trust and who will throw me a glare when I’ve gone to far, which in reality only spurs me on but don’t tell them. This counterbalance stops me from doing anything foolish but not always stopping me sneaking things round them like a naughty school child which I enjoy very much.

Working at Specialised had never really been in my plan, Im not a fan of cars or caravans !! I would have loved to work in interiors and the equestrian sector but I am very grateful for the opportunities and skills working at Specialised has taught me.

Family business can be tricky to navigate, the transition from being family run to having independent people making key decisions can be hard. We have spent the last decade navigating these difficult waters whist still investing and pushing for growth. These last few years for me have been like the light at the end of the tunnel where the foundations are now solid and growth can be achieved with more focus on what we want to do tomorrow rather than we we did last week.

The future of Specialised is one of excitement with new technologies and team members bringing another layer of skills and creativity that we are delighted to have. Anyway watch this space I’m sure I’m due to do something crazy soon!