Colin Boyce (CB) and James Leach (JL), the duo behind new company Passage House Agency, both take our Big Interview spot this month where they share an insight into their lives, future plans and why a bar stool is both their furniture item of choice.
Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?
CB: I live in Oxfordshire and have worked in the industry since 1999. I became an agent 10 years later when I met the guys at Furmanac. This was the best thing that happened to me during my career. I’m still an agent for Furmanac, but also work for other manufacturers too.
JL: A furniture agent operating within the UK, started out retailing furniture sales, warehousing & transport, store management. Then on to a sales role for a bed manufacturer and then fulfilling the dream to become a furniture sales agent.
What is your current job role and key responsibilities?
CB: I work for my company, which is called The Bed Agent which I set up in 2009. I represent manufacturers and work with retailers to develop business. More recently, myself and James have set up a new company called Passage House Agency, which we are working together on a very luxurious Swedish bed manufacturer, Mattsons.
JL: Travelling the country and dealing with furniture retailers and interior designers. Selling, training and brand building.
What do you love about your job?
CB: Freedom, chasing and creating.
JL: Knowing that each day is different to the next.
What time is your alarm clock set for?
CB: Unless I have to get up very early, I don’t use an alarm clock. I have a 7-year-old, who has never slept as much as he probably should.
JL: Unfortunately, my alarm clock is my two daughters and there is no set time! The routine always involves an espresso to get going!
Why did you choose to work in the furnishing industry?
CB: I didn’t make a choice, it just happened. I got a call from a recruitment agency who read out the job description for a rep for Slumberland and it just sounded like a great job and so I applied.
JL: I was asked to help out at a furniture store and really enjoyed the industry and the products, help create a home for clients is very rewarding.
Who do you most admire in the industry?
CB: Anyone that has created a business by their own wits. I know a few fantastic agents that spotted opportunities and took a risk to launch unknown manufacturers.
JL: People who bring innovation to the industry such as cutting-edge manufacturing, like Simon Spinks from Harrison Spinks. Designers like Staffan Tollgard that have vision and are creative, and mentors like Alberto Schiatti from Schiatti Agency.
Any special moments during your career?
CB: Many, but the most important was meeting John and Gee Hillard, the owners of Furmanac. Together we created the Hestia brand and the first range of products that were best sellers for many bed stores.
JL: There are many fond moments like working with clients to help grow their business, working as part of a sales team and also being able to travel to some incredible locations across the UK and Europe.
What is your favourite item of furniture you own?
CB: Cleo sofa from Sits, it’s massive! We can all lay about on it.
JL: My bed! I spend many nights staying away and relish the moment to get back to it.
What do you think is trending within the industry at present?
CB: We are all working hard on our green credentials, but really, I think most people want to buy really nice products from really nice stores, with the other end of the market left to price point.
JL: The environmental story is clearly a large part of where brands and manufactures should be focusing their attention and also the reduction in use of man-made materials, which is why the Mattsons collection is such an amazing story.
CB: Building existing business and spending Time with clients in Topsham, where our wonderful trade showroom is.
JL: Our future plans are to continue to provide a high level of service to our clients and keep them updated. We’ll be looking to showcase the Mattsons range at the Milan furniture fair in 2023.
What do you enjoy most outside of work / free time?
CB: Taking the kids fishing and camping.
JL: Being able to switch off from work and spending time with my family and friends. The past few years have been challenging and it feels like the world has gathered more pace. It’s good to be able to enjoy our time outside of work otherwise what’s the point?
What might someone not know about you?
CB: I’m a pretty decent guitarist.
JL: That I’m a Leo – ready to blaze a trial and make a name, something we’re planning on achieving with Mattsons.
If you had a different career, what would it be?
CB: Can’t imagine that!
JL: I’d probably have gone into football coaching. I’m still playing (at my age!), well both Colin and I are. I love the game and think I understand it and I’d relish the opportunity to pass on my understanding to others.
Finally, if you were an item of furniture, what would it be?
CB: An old bar top in a classic old pub, helping people to make decisions and to have fun times too, just by being something to lean on.
JL: A bar stool. It’s where all the fun is had isn’t it?