Miranda Jessop talks to Michael Cross about the last forty years running his successful medal and trophy company, Classic Miniatures.
The idea for the business first came to me when playing in an Under 18s tennis championship. It was a really long match and, against the odds, I was lucky to win. At the end I crawled up the steps, completely exhausted and, on being presented with a rather disappointing plastic trophy, said to my rival, 'That was an awful lot of effort just for this, I could make better myself.' And that thought stayed in my mind all those years.
Prior to setting up Classic Miniatures, I was director of a big public limited company with a luxurious office and all the perks of the job. When I left to start up my own business in 1976, I had to go back to doing all the jobs that needed to be done, including cleaning the toilets. I went out selling in a suit during the day and then put on my overalls and worked on the manufacturing in the evenings. Our first premises were just off the King's Road in Fulham and then Barnes.
Quite early on, we formed an association with a similar company in France and soon jointly became one of the largest suppliers of medals and metal figurines in Europe.
The company moved to Twickenham in 1986 because we needed larger premises. We had just been commissioned to supply medals for the London Marathon, the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and numerous other major events.
Today we offer a wide range of medals, trophies and awards in a variety of materials and styles, together with a selection of personalised gifts. A substantial proportion of our manufacturing is now carried out overseas but we still do some medal work, glass etching, laser designs, badge making and engraving in-house. Our increasingly popular bespoke wooden products are also made right here in Twickenham.
You won't be surprised to hear that the Rugby Football Union is one of our most important clients. We make most of the medals they use as well as various awards. We also work closely with the Rugby Football League and other big rugby clubs.
It is fair to say that we are involved in almost every sport. Shooting, hockey, cricket, motor racing, golf, you name it. If you go to any big sporting event, there is a good chance that one of our awards will be there.
We are also very proud of our association with local schools. I'd be quite disappointed if you found a school in the area that wasn't one of our clients.
Another important aspect to the business is our involvement with the armed forces. We supply the Army and RAF with nearly all of their sports medals as well as a number of commemorative medals.
I moved to Twickenham soon after the company relocated here. It's a great place to live. I particularly love walking in Marble Hill Park and being so close to the river.
The company only makes progress through the efforts of Sandra Pini, our General Manager and all the other staff. As I am approaching retirement, it has been decided to merge all manufacturing and distribution activities with those of our colleagues in France and Sandra has the skills and expertise to take the company to the next level. As long as that happens, I will be more than happy.
Classic Miniatures Ltd, Unit 8, Heathlands Close, Twickenham www. awardit.co.uk
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