Our Team is a new feature on the Gardinia blog, I plan to gradually introduce and interview key members of staff. To kick start this new feature I went straight to the top and sat down with Michael Foster, the Company Chairman and founder of Gardinia Windows to ask him a few questions.

Michael Foster
Michael Foster, Gardinia Windows Company Chairman

How long have you worked at Gardinia?
Since we opened the doors in 1983, over 35 years ago now!

What made you start Gardinia?
I noticed a market opportunity and just went for it, never looking back.

What was the hardest thing about starting Gardinia?
The very steep learning curve, with many hours of effort put in to both sales, manufacturing and installation.

How did you staff the business?
We already had a successful insulation business with some good flexible staff who were willing to re train and then subsequently took on more staff over the years as we grew.

The Gardinia Team In The 90's
The Gardinia team in the early 90’s

What is your day to day like at Gardinia?
I feel like I’m the grout that is between all the tiles in the bathroom, I have no one specific role, doing a little of everything as and when required.

Name the favourite part of your job?
That would be seeing new customers and explaining what we have to offer in terms of product range.

Your favourite Gardinia product range?
Conservatories because it brings together a number of trades who we partner with, to enable Gardinia to offer a bespoke product to our clients.

Most difficult project you have undertaken over the years?
This was Buxton house flats Gardinia undertook for Kirklees council. The difficulty with this project was due to having to coordinate all the tenants in the flats, then ensuring that the product was fit for purpose before manufacturing it. This was the first time Kirklees had used UPVC for this type of project.

Buxton House Flats In Huddersfield

Your best business decision?
To give the company employees their head, this has allowed us to make significant inroads in to internet sales with our eCommerce business Upvc Spares 4 Repairs.

The case study Virgin Media Business filmed on Gardinia Windows and Upvc Spares 4 Repairs sums up what were doing pretty well:

What areas do you see the business branching out to in the future?
I’m giving the opportunity to the staff and employees to seek out and develop new offerings through their own endeavours.

What did you do before starting Gardinia?
I was apprentice trained plumber and electrician working for chap called peter booth who used to undertake all works on properties so I was also trained in dealing with anything from replacing chimney pots down to digging and relaying drains.

Funniest memory of event which happened here at Gardinia?
A man rang one day to say we had made his windows wrong, but after we investigated his order and rang him back, it was proved that he had fitted the window with the handles outside. He did say that he thought it unusual that he had to go outside the house to open the windows!!

Who was your most difficult client and how did you win them over?
I wouldn’t like to mention the most difficult client, but I always win them over by being honest with them in proving the matter and it always works.

Do you have any plans to retire?
I would like to attempt over the next couple of years to wind down and enjoy a little more time away from the business.

Do you have a favourite hobby?
That has to be DIY, you can read the various blogs I have published on converting my old Conservatory in to a Garden Room to findout about the DIY project I’ve been personally undertaking:

When I retire I think I might pick up oil painting once more.

Favourite movie?
The Italian Job (1969)

Name your favourite cuisine?
Thai and Indian without a doubt.

Favourite place to go on holiday?
This would be a relaxing Cruise in the Mediterranean, my favourite been the one which went up in Scandinavia.

Beer or Wine?

How do you unwind?
Going out for meals with the family and enjoying spending time with the grand kids.

Do you have a personal philosophy?
I’ve always been brought up to respect my elders, however as the years go on my elders seem to be running out!

Three things people would be surprised to know about you?
I can speak German fairly well, I only look out of one eye and i’m happy to try anything once.

Greatest personal achievement?
My two children and keeping Gardinia running continuously for over 35 years without ever having an over draught.

Who has influenced you the most?
Nobody in particular, I’ve had ideas and just gone for them.

And finally the most important question… Tea or Coffee?

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