Date Published 03 June 2013
A teenage tycoon has announced plans to expand his business supplying boards to agents nationwide.
Chris Rundle, who turned 18 in March and who still lives at home with his parents, already provides many estate agents across the West Country with boards and other products from his sign-writing business.
Rundle started in business at the age of 13, using eBay to sell advertising stickers and banners that he made in his bedroom, and at 14 was turning over £350 per week. He left school at 16 as he saw no point in staying on, and a year later won the title of Exeter Entrepreneur of the Year.
Rundle has built up his business, GK Signs, which he bought one day after leaving school for £10,000 using savings and a small inheritance from his grandmother. He was not old enough for the normal bank facilities that most businesses use, and not eligible for any start-up finance.
He transferred his business from his bedroom to an industrial estate, and then had the hard task of retaining and winning customers who did not want to deal with anyone so young.
Today, he employs some 30 people and has ambitions to supply agents – who are his largest group of customers – all over the country. He will not do this by franchising, he says, but by buying premises in major cities and employing local people.
He puts his success down to sheer tenacity and hard work – with 16-hour days not uncommon – plus a bit of verve. He recalls taking a sample For Sale board on his moped to show some prospective agent customers: to fit it on to the moped, he had to cut a bit of the board off.
Apparently, the agents are still his customers, and Rundle can at least drive a car these days, passing his test four days after his 17th birthday: `I went straight out and bought a brand new car, a Swift Sport Suzuki. I did cut a deal, of course.`