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Q and A with the MD of JJ Smith Woodworking, Rachael Baker

Updated: Jul 4

What does your business do?

We sell woodworking machinery to a wide range of industries across the UK and the World, helping our customers to become more productive and profitable.

We are known for our expertise in all aspects of machinery for solid wood, and provide a full package to customers from initial assessments through to installation and aftersales service.

How are you celebrating your 100 years?

We held a celebration for 200 guests in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, celebrating the long-term relationships we have with employees, suppliers and customers.

It was an incredible evening, with guests from 10 countries, businesses we've worked with for decades and employees totalling over 500 years of service to the company. It was fantastic to be able to join together and recognise the incredible things we have achieved over the past 100 years and look forward to the next.

We are also marking the milestone with 100 days of volunteering in the community, with employees volunteering for a wide range of organisations.

How has your business adapted and evolved to stay relevant in a changing market over the past century?

We constantly evolve and innovate to ensure that we are always at the forefront of technology in our industry.

We invest heavily in training our team to ensure that we can provide the best possible service to our customers.

What motivates you?

I love it when people achieve their dreams, whether that is a customer being able to double their production speed, or an apprentice learning a new skill and being able to put it into practice.

Can you describe/outline your typical day?

My days are all different, which I love!

What was the best training you have ever done?

We are members of The Manufacturer’s Alliance, and as part of that I attend a peer group once a month with other leaders in Manufacturing from across the North-West.

It’s a fantastic way of learning how other businesses operate and is an invaluable way of continually learning.

What do you do in your own time when you’re not working?

Spending time with my husband and two sons; we have quite a large garden with alpacas, goats, chickens, dogs and a big vegetable patch so we all spend a lot of time in that.

When we’re not in the garden, we go sailing and enjoy exploring the islands of the West Coast of Scotland. I’m also a co-chair of governors for a local school.

What are your goals for the next two years?

To build on all we have achieved in our first century in business to start our second century with continued growth.

I feel we’re at a real turning point at the moment with the focus on Net Zero, and I’m excited for some of the projects that we are part of, particularly in the Modern Methods of Construction sector, seeing those come to fruition and the positive impacts they will have on people’s lives and for the future.

Can you share any stories or anecdotes that highlight the resilience and determination of your business during challenging times?

I am very proud of how we navigated the recent Covid pandemic, it was an incredibly tough time for everyone and I feel we maintained the focus on looking after our staff at all times, which we did in ways far beyond the regulations, supporting people emotionally as well as physically.

Our determination to get through it meant that we emerged stronger as a team, and having adapted to a number of new ways of working.

As a close-knit team, we have faced many challenges over the years – including having our factory being bombed during the second world war! We face all the challenges together.

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