Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Shot to the Top

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Shot to the Top

Article excerpt

Byline: Alan Plews

Fact file

Name of company:

H E Woolley


pounds 900,000

No of employees:



Harry Wilmot

Start-up date:

1924, with management buy-out in 2000


Negotiating with North Yorkshire businessmen can be a test of a man's bargaining skills, but at least they won't shoot at you with rifles.

When Harry Wilmot, now managing director of Middlesbrough all-purpose fire protection company HE Woolley, arrived back in the UK four years ago he was relieved to find that deals were a lot more civilised than some he had done in Peru and Argentina.

Harry, 37, cut his teeth selling turbines for Middlesbrough-based steel stockholder and exporting group Parson & Crosland, until recently Woolley's parent company, to Peruvian miners and robots to Argentine car manufacturers.

Mr Wilmot began his career with P&C in Lima, Peru, in 1992, where some contracts were not as straightforward as one would expect.

"There was one particularly difficult occasion when I was building a hydro-electric turbine in Peru," he says. "A local farmer took issue with the way we were altering the flow of the river and turned up carrying a gun.

"I could see he meant business. My engineers and I heard the gun cock and we made a run for my Jeep. The first shot went over our heads and we had the engine started by the time the second shot hit the ground beside us.

"As we drove away I could see him in the rear view mirror emptying his rifle at us."

Once, in Buenos Aires, a corrupt policeman offered to kill a debtor.

"He said he could have this guy shot if we paid him $5,000. I politely declined. I have no idea what good he thought it would do the company if our debtor was dead."

In January 1997 Mr Wilmot moved to Middlesbrough, where he started selling steel, and bought Woolley's in 2000. …

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