Q&A: Dean Williams Managing director, Simpson Group

By Jo Francis, Tuesday 07 May 2019

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Dean is celebrating 30 years in print this year. He and his wife Sharon have two sons, Ben (20) and Luke (18) “who we are immensely proud of however want nothing to do with print, yet”.

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Outside of work the couple can be found walking their three dogs in woods or beaches “the dogs have become our new children”.

What is your nickname? 

When I was a DJ back in the 80s it was DJD, now it’s Deano – although aren’t nicknames supposed to be shorter?

Why did you get into printing? 

I stumbled on it. Having left school with no qualifications I was working in a factory building sofa frames on a YTS scheme thinking, is this it? In 1989, A local printer wanted a trainee estimator and I was interviewed by Mark Simpson who rescued me from the YTS

What would be your dream job? 

An Inter-City 125 Train Driver. My dad worked as an engineer for British Rail in the yards at Doncaster. I sometimes used to visit him at work and I loved it whenever the ‘125s’ went past.

Who would play you in a movie about your life? 

Although he’s not an actor, I would choose Alan Carr as ‘apparently’ he looks like me, and I would like the fun side of me portrayed by someone who also seems like a lot of fun

What is your dream bit of kit?

Another Inca Onset X3 would still be on the top of my list – we’ve been able to increase efficiency and the quality of the work produced is second to none

What is your favourite film? 

I was lucky enough to see the original Star Wars when it was released in 1977 and it just blew my mind, I was hooked and have been ever since

Sweet or savoury?

I have a sweet tooth however I would always pick a savoury over a sweet any day

Who or what do you hate the most?

Negativity, it breeds. I like positive, happy people who believe the glass is half full and needs filling. I find the best way to deal with negative people is to surround them with positive people and let them take in their energy and change, rather than suck the life from others

Who do you admire most in the industry? 

Brian Colvin who was the managing director at Impression UK (formerly Kingsway). Brian is no longer in print however he was an inspirational leader, who always had time for you and gave great advice

What is your favourite phrase or saying? 

I pick things up easily and have found myself double answering lately with “yeah, yeah”

What is your favourite album? 

All Eyez on Me by Tupac Shakur aka 2Pac

What is your favourite book/what are you reading at the moment?

My favourite book is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and I am currently reading Enid Blyton for Grown Up’s Five Go on a Strategy Away Day, which you could argue are kind of linked

Cat or dog, or…? 

My dogs are my world (after the wife and kids of course)

What is your greatest luxury in life?

I have to say our hot tub. It’s by far the best way of de-stressing I know and allows you plenty of time to reflect and think, helped by the odd glass of beer 

What is the strangest job you’ve ever done?

Since I was a young teenager I have always wanted to earn my own money. On a Friday night I used to do a ‘cream round’. A large cool box full of single, double cream and fresh orange juice would be delivered to my house, I would strap it over my shoulder and go off round the streets selling it to households for their weekend baking or treats. As it was heavy, the incentive was to sell it as quickly as possible to lighten the load. I got a 10% cut for my efforts which was around £8-£10, that went a long way in 1984

What is your greatest achievement? 

Going from a shop floor union rep for the union when I was just 18 on a YTS to becoming the first ever National Youth Officer for the Labour Party within a year, unfortunately it was only a one-year post

Who or what makes you laugh? 

Both my sons, their stories always make me giggle

Where would you like to be right now? 

Anywhere travelling around in a campervan with the wife and dogs, living the dream

Which superpower would you like to have? 

Telekinesis. Living in Washington you get used to roundabouts, so when I drive through city centres with traffic lights in abundance, like Newcastle, I get so frustrated. Selfishly, I would use my ability to change them all to green whenever I drove through

Who would be your favourite party guests?

Difficult – I think I’d definitely say Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls and Suge Knight as there are a few questions I would like to ask, like what happened that night?!

Where would you go if you could time-travel? 

Into a plastic free future

What was your childhood obsession?

Batman then Star Wars in the 70s however when the 80s happened it was all about the BMX and Breakdancing

What was the best business deal that you’ve pulled off? 

As this is an MBO, this has to be it. It’s been a big transition from being a co-worker to MD and leader, not just for me, but for my colleagues too. After all, respect is still earned and is your most valuable asset.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

I didn’t listen to anyone when I was younger and was hell bent on doing everything my way. When I returned to the company, Mark Simpson sat me down and said: “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason”, and I got much further much quicker when that advice sunk in

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