Jolyon Bennett _ Unique Distribution

Careers are generally kick-started at the job centre, or in the appointments pages of newspapers, or on the university employers’ milk round. Jolyon Bennett, UK Sales Director of Unique Distribution, began his in the more congenial surroundings of an Oxfordshire pub. From barman to sales manager; with one unlikely leap he was free …
He had left Brighton University with a Psychology degree and a massive overdraft, and sought financial relief at his parents’ home in Standlake in Oxfordshire. There he worked for six months as a barman at his local pub in an attempt to get solvent.
His extrovert personality attracted the attention of a pub regular. “Richard Andrews was one of the early players in cellular. He worked with Angus Dawe at Unique Air and it chanced that the sales manager had left in a huff. Richard encouraged me to apply for the job, and I was successful.
“It was daunting to lead ten experienced people – I was nervous when I turned up on day one in a suit that my mother had
bought me.
“Fortunately I seemed to get things right and in a year sales had doubled. During this time Angus Dawe had moved to Caudwell as a Divisional MD and moved again to start Unique Distribution in Eastbourne under the guise of Fone Bitz. Richard went to Caudwell to replace him and Angus invited me to join Unique at Eastbourne.
“We worked hard and played hard. We sold during the day, packed shipments in the evening and went out for dinner afterwards. It was a totally committed team effort and the fun we had compensated for sheer hard graft and straitened circumstances. You may think Eastbourne is for wrinklies – but there’s plenty of nightclub action.”
Since then Bennett has immersed himself in every aspect of the business. He now leads a team that is building a growing, sustainable business on solid foundations.
If, however, he ever had to have another career switch, and didn’t have to worry about the next meal, he could probably return to poetry. “I always liked it – more so when I discovered that girls went gooey over it. I learned reams by heart and even used to write angst-ridden teenage verse.”
There was nothing angst-ridden about his schooldays, however. “I found I could pass exams with a few weeks’ cramming, so that was comforting.
“But I was also very keen on sport – I played for the soccer, cricket and rugby teams and captained the South of England junior basketball side.
“My one black mark was a day’s suspension when a prank with the water supply led to a science lab being flooded to a depth of four inches. As the slowest out of the blocks, I was caught but didn’t betray my fellow miscreants and carried the can. My mother only found out about it last year – my elder sister had intercepted the rather stiff note from the Head and I spent the day at my girlfriend’s.”
"You may think Eastbourne is for wrinklies – but there’s plenty of nightclub action …"
He now lives with his partner Joanna in Warborough near Henley. “We have a 300 year old cottage, which stretched us to buy and is currently costing a fortune to renovate. Reroofing, rewiring, replumbing – we’ve done it all. It’s in an idyllic location and the village is a regular setting for the Midsomer Murders TV series.”
His home prompted his sole joust with the bookies. “We had ripped out an ugly red brick fireplace and uncovered a splendid inglenook. The only problem was that it wouldn’t draw. The hood we needed cost a fortune so I put £100 on Hedgehunter in the 2005 Grand National. Joanna was less than gruntled: she is, after all, an accountant by training, although she has more recently moved into property management. When it won, we got our hood – and it’s decorated with a horse and the word Hedgehunter.”
That’s one bad habit overcome. But he hangs on to good ones. “I swim several miles a week and put in a few miles running when I can.” The hours he puts in restrict world travel but he enjoys the local pub (lager in summer, red wine and bitter in winter) weekend trips to a friend’s home in Barcelona and annual skiing holidays.
There only remains a question about his name. “You’re right, Jolyon is unusual – but my mother was reading the Forsythe Saga before I was born and fell for the hero.”
1998  _  BA Psychology, Brighton
1998  _  Barman in a country pub
1999  _  Sales Manager, Unique Air
2000  _  Unique Distribution, initially as Sales Manager responsible for SIM-free sales, forming and managing the accessories division
2005  _  Appointed UK Sales Director
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