Indie of the Month – South West Computer Recycling Ltd
By Stella Nicholls
Seldom have I met a person with as much drive and determination as 22-year-old Sam Kingdon. The fact that he started his computer recycling business at the age of 16 and is now running a successful company, (which employs seven staff members) is true testament to his dedication. I was intrigued to hear Sam’s story, and couldn’t help but feel that perhaps I was in the presence of someone who will go on to make a real difference in the world; ‘one to watch’ as they say. It was clear very early on in our conversation that he will stop at very little to get the job done, travelling countrywide to retrieve or deliver an item and ultimately fulfil his dream.
When I recently met Sam at our Grow offices, he spoke matter-of-factly about his success and what it has taken to get to the point where he is now.
Sam has always been interested in computers and electronic equipment and says that he is a “bit of a hoarder” – taking after his Grandad. In fact, his dad and Grandad have been his greatest influences. He smiled fondly as he recounted a memory of his Grandad fixing six broken brooms that had been discarded, he brought them into the office, “as good as new!”. Sam chuckled and said they’re handy for sweeping the premises and keeping things neat and tidy. His Grandad still goes into the business to take care of any odd jobs – like chopping all the ends off of any cables they’ve received– and also joins Sam on vehicle buying ‘missions’ offering his pearls of wisdom along the way.
Sam’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident even at college, where he would buy and sell on eBay, storing items in the shed at home. One summer holiday, he bought 18 pallets of used office phones on eBay; the delivery turned up at his house while he was out. He laughed and said, “My mum was livid.” He was sixteen at the time and says, “That’s where it started really”, as he had to get rid of them all as quickly as possible, so he “flogged them on eBay.” He started advertising, working from home, doing collections, and says that at that point he had no licences, but fortunately people still made use of his services. He would go out and about in his dad’s car, picking stuff up. He looked at me at this point of recollection and said, “It’s mad isn’t it?”
But to me, it is this grit, determination and as Sam puts it – impulsiveness – that has served as a recipe to success. On being impulsive, he says, if he wants something done, he wants it done today. He’s been known to wake up on a Sunday morning thinking that he needs another van. In no time, he’s popped online to find one, started bidding for it and six hours later, has picked it up from over 200 miles away. Job done!
The now fully licensed business (which was registered as a Limited Company in 2014) specialises in electronics, recycling and the disposing of computer equipment for Devon schools and businesses and also offers a full WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recycling service too. Sam also provides a fully certified Data Erasure service as well as Data Destruction services for hard drives and other data-bearing media. He mentioned that he has a van that crushes hard-drives on site, so people can watch their hard-drives being destroyed giving them peace of mind that their data is not being taken off-site. I asked Sam if he has a huge machine to do the crushing, imagining a giant chipper grinding and crunching away and spewing out bits as though it were chomping through a cracker. Sam laughed and said, “It’s quite disappointing, it’s not that big!” But it does the job and that’s what counts (and he added that he does actually have a chipper on site too!).
Sam has funded the business himself and says that he hasn’t had to borrow except for a bit from his Grandad when he first started. He says that the growth has all been organic, and he works by the principle, “If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.” Very wise words.
I asked Sam what he does to relax, and he admitted that it’s been pretty full on since he started the business, but he did manage to get away recently for the first time with his best friend (who has worked with him in the business since it started) for a week away. He says that during that week one of the trucks was pulled over which was challenging to deal with from 200 miles away but says, “It’s all good fun” and he wouldn’t change a thing. He says, “It’s the wondering what’s gonna happen next?” that inspires and drives him.
Sam went on to say that some of the things he’s gone through and managed to overcome, he wonders if some people think, “He’s having me on, here!” but he says it’s all true. It’s the “Never giving up” attitude that spurs him on. That’s what keeps him going – knowing that he’s been through a lot of the toughest stuff already.
He recalled that in 2015 he was experiencing a particularly rough patch and was ready to “jack it all in”. But he said that he was at the point where he couldn’t give up because to close would have meant having too many unpaid bills. He knuckled down instead, pushed through and thought, “Right we’ve got to put some effort in” and within six months they had turned it around. Sam says, “It was amazing, a great lesson, you know, never give up!”
If you would like to get in touch with Sam, pop onto the South West Computer Recycling website.