Olly Magnus, CEO of Magnus Group, won the Director of the Year award, sponsored by The Churchmanor Estates Company plc, at the Suffolk Business Awards 2022. Find out how self-belief and capitalising on opportunities have underpinned his success.

In 1973, Paul Magnus established a shipping agency in Felixstowe. After Paul’s death in 2018, son Olly sold his own freight forwarding company to buy shares and bring the business back under family ownership.

Today it is known as Magnus Group, which offers transport warehousing, freight logistics and forwarding services. The business in Great Blakenham, Ipswich is ideally placed to serve the Port of Felixstowe and enjoys direct road links to the Midlands, the North and London.

Olly won the Director of the Year award, sponsored by The Churchmanor Estates Company plc, at the Suffolk Business Awards 2022.

“I’m very humbled and honoured to have won this award,” he says. “If you told me three years ago that I’d win I would have been very, very surprised.

“This award is a testament to all of the people at Magnus Group. Without them, I wouldn't even be close. It’s very much a team effort and I’m just the lucky one picking it up.”

Every year, Olly organises a golf day in his father’s memory. This year’s event just so happened to be the day after the awards ceremony.

“It was a three-day celebration with the awards night, watching Ipswich Town FC beating Portsmouth FC and the golf day,” he says. “It was great and we raised a bit of money for charity as well.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Magnus Group offers transport warehousing, freight logistics and forwarding servicesMagnus Group offers transport warehousing, freight logistics and forwarding services (Image: Stephen Waller / Magnus Group)

When Olly took the reins in 2019, Magnus Group had £9 million in turnover. Today, that figure sits at £26 million – and the future looks bright despite significant challenges.

“We have seen substantial growth but not without trials and tribulations along the way,” he says. “We’ve had Covid-19, driver shortages, the fuel crisis. It’s been tough in logistics. Our growth has been very pleasing considering these obstacles. But you never know what’s around the corner in this industry.”

Originally, the group had only one warehouse in Felixstowe. But when the warehouse next door became available, Olly recognised it as an opportunity too good to miss.

“It was obviously a huge gamble. But I took the punt and we doubled our warehousing straightaway.”

Then at the beginning of 2020, Covid hit.

“Suddenly everybody needed warehousing,” Olly says. “We were in the right place at the right time. There is an element of luck, but I believe you make your own luck.”

Crises that have affected other businesses have also been leveraged positively by Magnus Group, like Brexit.

“Everything that comes into the country needs a customs clearance, so like every freight forwarder we’ve benefited from a larger number of customs clearances.”

Olly has rebranded the business and raised its profile through social media and sponsorship deals with Ipswich Town FC, for example.

“I’ve always been a big believer in getting yourself out there. You have got to be seen and you’ve got to do a decent job.”

Olly also recruited heads of department for transport, warehousing and freight forwarding. He then empowered them to recruit their own teams.

“I’m good at some things, but I’m bad at others,” he says. “So, I surround myself with experts who are better than me at certain things. I am loyal to my staff, I respect them, I put my trust in them and let them get on with it. But it has to work both ways.”

Olly says that self-belief and the ability to recognise and capitalise on opportunities are the secret to success.

“I work really hard to create opportunities. But if you get opportunities, make sure that you back yourself to take them. Ultimately, it’s all down to performance. I give the team the platform and they have to produce the goods.

“If you don’t take any risks, you won’t win anything. There’s a difference between reckless and calculated risks. But ultimately, it’s about backing yourself and believing that you can create a difference. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.”

With this attitude, Olly believes the sky is the limit.

“Magnus Group hasn’t hit the ceiling of where myself and the directors believe we can go. We’re Suffolk-based at the moment, but we would like to expand and potentially look at national and international acquisitions.

“I’ve always had this dream of having an office in Sydney, which is where my dad was from – but why stop there?”

For more information, please visit magnusgroup.co.uk