Keeping kids active, the Plum Play UK way

Generational Play

Plum Play was founded by Jonathan and Diane Schaffer in 1988, they balanced their time running a successful family business and enjoying their three young children. They knew by keeping their children active it would help their imaginations run wild. Their son Paul Schaffer did his ABC’s sat on Jonathan’s handlebars as he cycled him to school or his next football match. Today Paul is the Managing Director of Plum Play and successfully leads the brand’s drive to create new fans across the world. From trampolines to sandpits, treehouses to scooters, Plum offers it all, in a fun, vibrant and active way.

Not all Managing Directors can say they’ve worked their way up through the business. Paul Schaffer grew up watching his parents build a little empire. From as a young age Paul was picking screws, lifting, folding leaflets and packing boxes for his family’s successful company.

Paul wondered how they struggled to switch off after a hard day’s work. Something Paul fully understands now. “Plum Play is my family, it’s very personal, every little screw, every little thing we do matters.” He quickly realised there is no off button. “When it is your business, work never really stops, it comes with you everywhere. I am always thinking on how to improve and innovate.” Whilst this can be stressful, Paul, like his parents uses this energy to drive the business forward.

Paul’s attitude is all about hard work and encouraging his staff to improve “You can lead, manage but ultimately it is what you and your staff have in them to succeed that matters. If you have pride it shows, you work hard and ultimately succeed, it can’t and won’t come by itself.” It is this analytical approcah and attention to detail which has made Plum the success they are today.

After studying in Sydney, Australia Paul landed a job at Ernst Young where he put his analytical, accountancy and numeracy skills to the test. Paul was excelling but had always had ambitions to return to Plum as long as the right opportunity was there. In 2015 his returned as General Manager, then moved to Commercial Director and finally taking the helm as Managing Director in 2019. Paul is fascinated with how business works, fixated with analysing the fundamentals “If you look after the little bits in a business, they soon add up to be big bits.”

Plum recently entered the US market. Something which could have been a risky move but for Paul it wasn’t. “It is like chess, I knew we couldn’t afford to enter the market and break even, we had to commit and make a success of it.” Paul’s confidence and strategic planning helped Plum achieve record growth.The company is estimated to turnover in excess of £50m in the next few years. “The most important thing is ensuring all of our products are of the highest safety and quality. If we keep our customers happy, they come back.” Plum now trades in over 40 countries.

The first lockdown was a shock to the industry but under Paul’s leadership Plum sold out of many lines in record time. “People were stuck at home, they knew they had to keep their children active and our trampolines, climbing frames and tree houses were the perfect fit”.

Paul has worked in every area of the business and is always the first to roll up his sleeves to get things done. “I enjoy getting on the phones, packing boxes or building, it helps me see things that I can improve. It is this unique leadership style which helps Plum continue to thrive. “I like to get involved, I know how everything is built, everything is done and wouldn’t have it any other way, I like to be involved from the ground floor to the boardroom.”

Despite having successful sales in the first lockdown Paul was ever the perfectionist used it as an opportunity to improve. “We sold out so quickly and had a limited warehouse with the Covid guidelines, it slowed everything down and some customers were upset that some orders were slow getting out.”

Paul realised his customer service team were under strain and jumped in to help to help them. “It was an emotionally draining time. One of the reasons I love Plum is that everyone jumps in to help, not just me. We have a great team mentality and will always look out for one another.”

Paul recently joined the SME council. He is keen to support businesses when he can. Paul’s commitment to creating high quality and innovative products will continue to help his family business stay at the top of their game for years to come.

Plum Play

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