Suffolk Business Awards: Director of the Year shares his approach

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Roger Catchpole, MD of Stow Healthcare, won the Director of the Year award, sponsored by the Churchmanor Estates Company - Credit: Holly Riggs

Successfully steering a care-home business through the pandemic and managing to expand saw Roger Catchpole, managing director of Stow Healthcare, named as Director of the Year, sponsored by the Churchmanor Estates Company. 

 “While it is an individual award, I don’t think it’s recognition of just my work: it’s a recognition of my whole team’s work and I said that to all the people at the company,” Mr Catchpole says.  

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The Churchmanor Estates Company sponsors Director of the Year - Credit: Archant

“The award is for all of us because it does recognise what we’ve achieved as a group and I think that’s been critical. Within Stow Healthcare I’ve always tried to have a very collaborative working environment,” he says. “We’re very open in terms of learning from each other and from people outside our organisation.  

“It’s never a case that I try to lead the company by saying ‘I know best and this is the direction we’re going’. I always like to think that I’m willing to change and learn if someone else has a better idea.  

“That’s been more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he adds. "There have been an awful lot of decisions to make and we had to act in real time at a very fast pace, so we really had to act together and pull together as a team - every one of our 350 or 400 or so employees. It really has been a huge team effort over the past year.” 

Mr Catchpole says he has seen a good reaction to the award. “I got a lot of phone calls, emails and other messages saying congratulations,” he admits. “We’re a family owned and operated business – and there are many other family-owned businesses we work alongside that we consider partners. When something like this happens, they know they’ve played a part in our success – and that’s very rewarding.” 

The pressure created by Covid-19 meant 2020 was, for Stow Healthcare, like operating in “an almost constant emergency situation”. So Mr Catchpole says the process of entering the awards provided a welcome moment for reflection.  

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“We do need to take a step back and look at what we’ve achieved because it has been unbelievable in the past 12 months," he says. “With the Covid pandemic, there has been an awful lot of focus on trying to ensure that we are safe and prepared for each day, but my role is still to plan for tomorrow. It’s not just a case of making sure we have a successful and viable business right now: I have to say what are the things that will guarantee success and viability next year and beyond.  

As well as working flat-out on the Covid front line, Stow continued to expand. A deal that had been planned to complete in April was delayed by the first lockdown, but when the opportunity arose to complete it, Mr Catchpole took it. "I had to say, ‘this is our plan and we still want to grow’, so I picked the deal back up,” he explains.  

“We also have some larger goals that we still need to work towards. We’ve been keen not to think of ourselves as victims during the pandemic,” he says. "We’re going to do all that we can to keep moving forwards." 

For more information, see www.stowhealthcare.co.uk 

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