The Hockley Mint MD on supporting British jewellery manufacture.
Don’t get on Gary Wroe’s bad side. He’s a kick boxing black belt and regular open water swimmer, so it’s a fair bet he could be a bit handy. Fortunately he’s not the violent type. Far from it. He confesses to being generally a pretty happy person.
Well, he has every reason to be cheerful following his accession to the Hot 100. It comes in recognition of all he’s done at Hockley Mint in Birmingham, turning it into a driven and passionate base of British manufacturing.
“Since I started with the company we have striven to continually improve our processes and procedures. Working with every one of the management team, we have gelled a formidable unit. I have a vision for where the company is going and certainly have the support and co-operation of the team.”
His decision to focus on pendants and earrings for the product launch at last year’s The Jewellery Show led to sales hikes on those areas of 172% and 174% respectively. His plans? “Increase awareness of Hockley Mint, continue to promote and support British manufacturing. We have worked tirelessly to improve our facilities during the last three years. My aim is to ensure we exceed our promises.”
It sounds rosy, but there are concerns. His biggest are focused on the skills base in the UK industry in general and in the Jewellery Quarter in particular. He’s tackling that too and has taken on three apprentices – Lauren Walton, Anthony Harris and Ethan Hawthorne – with Birmingham City Council subsidising their wages to the tune of 50% in year one and 25% in year two.
He has also moved a sub office of the Birmingham Assay Office onto his premises in order to offer in-house hallmarking and speed up orders. Hockley Mint can now offer a one-day turnaround.
It’s no wonder then that he lists problem solving as one of his favourite aspects of his job as he’s doing plenty of it and not just for his company but the wider world in general. Having committed to ethical improvements in the industry he has gained Fairtrade accreditation for Hockley Mint’s sister company Merrell Casting and joined the Responsible Jewellery Council.
Let’s not put a big S on his chest just yet but with his physical prowess, can-do attitude and problem solving abilities, he might just be as close to a superhero as the industry has right now.
Gary Wroe was selected as a CMJ Business Big Shot in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013, in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.