Phil Allen, Regional Sales Manager at IDL, steps into the spotlight
Having worked at IDL since 2008, Phil Allen – Regional Sales Manager (UK & Eire) – describes himself as the ‘baby’ of the team, with lots of colleagues having been part of the company for many more of its 35 years.
When asked to do this interview, Phil replied: I am basically Ken Barlow from Coronation Street, the archetypal ‘boring man’, I am far too boring to warrant any kind of attention.
We disagree 😊
Even those who have worked closely with Phil over the years will find a few hidden gems in this interview.
Talk us through your career history
Having left school at 16, and home shortly afterwards, I wanted to travel and experience more than what my hometown had to offer which, at the time, was a couple of pubs and a rubbish nightclub called Masquerades. I was a little more adventurous back then!
This resulted in me doing quite a varied range of jobs, some of which are too embarrassing to mention…(NB you’ll have to ask Phil for more details when you next speak to him!)
I have done everything from selling pub crawl tickets on the beach in Ios, Greece – where I spent a couple of summer seasons – through to cold calling the general public trying to sell SMS text alerts for the Sydney Olympics, whilst the Olympics was actually on. This was easily the most challenging job I have ever had, but living in Melbourne was great.
Eventually, I settled in to working for Castle-Caretech in Windsor as a Regional Sales Manager, a UK manufacturer of intruder alarms. This is where my interest in the security industry began, along with my appreciation for British manufactured products. I was there for eight years before moving on to IDL.
What does your job involve?
I am the Regional Sales Manager for the UK & Eire (Outside the M25) which is a pretty varied role in that it isn’t just an out and out sales role. IDL’s route to market depends heavily on building strong relationships with key integrators and maintaining those relationships long term. I am proud that many of our key integrators have been loyal to us for 10 years or more.
Of course, sales are sales though and, as such, we do need to promote our products as well as influence architects and specifiers as best we can to keep IDL in the forefront of people’s minds.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Eerrmm, probably not much other than watching ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ and looking for another job!
If money was no object, I would love to own/operate an animal rescue though, as beyond work, this is one of my passions in life. As a family, we have fostered and had the privilege of caring for lots of cats and dogs over the years and generally we take on the more extreme cases which struggle to be rehomed due to expensive medical conditions.
We currently have four dogs.
- Poppy – Chihuaha: she has Addison’s disease and costs us a small fortune as she needs monthly blood tests, cortisol injections and medication for the rest of her life
- Myrtle – Yorkshire Terrier: deaf as a post and possibly slightly brain damaged!
- Bella – German Spitz: dodgy hips from birth
- Fifi – Poodle: apart from being very undersized (she is smaller than most miniature poodles) she’s reasonably okay health-wise, although her monthly grooming fees are astronomical. She also has me wrapped around her little finger!
We also have three cats, although they are slightly more elusive to get pictures of, called Rufus, Calia and Mog. And, finally, a squirrel called Alice who we rescued and hand reared indoors for several months. She has remained in our garden for the last two years and we can still hand feed her.
That’s all we have at the moment – although that’s probably enough! We have cared for lots of animals over the years, and we’ve tended to take on those who are in their twilight (a bit like me) and given them a comfortable home to see out their days.
How have things changed over the years you’ve been at IDL?
As a highly innovative company, things are constantly changing at IDL but the thing that has struck me most is how much we have grown as a company. I remember when we moved into our current address thinking to myself “Isn’t this a bit big for us?” However, we quickly grew into the space and will, before much longer, need to expand again I am sure.
Talk us through a typical project from start to finish and your role in delivering that
I manage a project from ’soup to nuts’, and beyond.
For example, I may meet a potential customer at an exhibition (not at the moment though, sadly, due to Coronavirus) or via an online enquiry which I then follow up. I then advise on product selection in response to a client’s wish list in terms of aesthetics and functionality, and work closely with the design and technical teams to present the best solution and quotation for the project. When everything goes to plan – which, of course, it (nearly) always does 😊 – I process the order and assist with delivery, installation and ongoing maintenance.
Basically, I am the main point of contact throughout the entire process.
What’s been your favourite project to work on and why?
There are honestly too many to mention. Each and every project is unique and a learning experience and I still enjoy every interaction (well mostly!) with each of my customers and colleagues.
One of the more innovative customisations that I have been involved with, however, was creating an intuitive lighting system for a well-known bank headquarters, which not only looked great but was also functional and offered a benefit to the client, other than simply illuminating the lane.
What’s your favourite product? And why?
I personally like the Glassgate 150, which I believe was a game changer for the turnstile industry. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s fair to say that its elegant design has now been replicated by most, if not all, of our competitors.
The original is still the best though and, due to its versatility and price point, our integrator partners also love the Glassgate 150 as they tend to favour the standard, customising with just a few options.
What’s been your biggest career challenge to date?
COVID-19 has easily eclipsed all other challenges for obvious reasons. We treat our key integrators as partners and friends, so seeing the challenges they have faced professionally and personally has been difficult.
Right now, one of my favourite sayings seems especially apt: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
What advice do you have for someone approaching an Ikea flat pack?
I don’t really have any advice. I would simply wish them well.
Always the salesperson, had I got to them before making the purchase, I would have pointed out that whilst they may be able to get themselves a seemingly great deal price-wise, had they considered:
- How easy it would be to build?
- What support they would get from the manufacturer?
- How long the furniture would last?
My advice would have been to look at buying a quality, preferably British manufactured product which had a track record of superb customer service and which – provided it was maintained – would look and perform just as well in 10 years’ time as it did the day it was purchased. Oh wait, I’ve put my IDL hat back on! 😊
Any final thoughts?
Going back to Ken Barlow, I seem to have been around forever and I plan to keep it that way. But, I’m sure I will be missed when I am gone.
If you would like to speak to Phil about his previous embarrassing jobs, which we omitted from this blog, or perhaps your next entrance control project, he can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 7976 016 807, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.