Why would anybody call a business Industrial Action?

To answer that I need to go way back to 1996....

I was working for an ad agency in London called Lowe Howard-Spink with my main account being Vauxhall Motors. That year saw extensive strikes on the London Underground, so to get to work I had to walk from Liverpool Street station to Knightbridge. The Evening Standard bill boards proclaimed 'Industrial Action causes more chaos'. This got me thinking about my own work.

Having studied Product Design at Sheffield Hallam University (which involved 2D design and hands on 3D modelling in the workshops), I graduated and became a trainee at a big old American agency called DMB&B. This was a fabulous place and I worked on TV and Press ads for Tetley Tea and The Royal Mail plus new business tenders including Red Bull and Sega.

What niggled me about big ad agencies was that they actually didn't produce anything. All the work was sub-contracted out to production companies and a lot of time was therefore spent in meetings keeping lots of departments up to date.

I decided I needed to be more industrious and I needed more action... and there it was on a billboard 'Industrial Action'.

In October of that year I left London, returned to Leeds and started my design company.

Industrial Action Limited started in October 1996, and being based in Leeds I found early design work for several of the big law firms. My first break came in 1998 when I was invited to start work for Bolling Coffee in Huddersfield.

Bolling was a well established food service company looking to get into retail and make a name for itself as a distinctive coffee roaster. After re-designing their food service brand we brainstormed a niche retail brand that would just sell excellent and unusual coffees. 'Grumpy Mule' was born in 2006 and was instantly popular. With Grumpy Mule in the portfolio, Bolling Coffee became a major supplier to the Universities and made it into Waitrose and Selfridges. During an exhibition at the BBC Good Food Show, the brand caught the attention of the buyers from Fortnum & Mason.  After a tendering process, Grumpy Mule began roasting coffees for Fortnum & Mason, which is how we were fortunate enough to produce some design work for them.

By 2013 Grumpy Mule had grown to such a size that it was bought by Bewley's Coffee. We enjoyed three years working for Bewley's until they bought a business with a design department and our services were no longer required. Still, 18 years service is not bad going.


To be continued...