April 21st, 2021

Meet Richard Chaplin – he’ll be finding us partners all around the world…

In this issue of Meet the Team, we’d like to introduce you to Richard Chaplin – our Head of Partnerships. Richard oversees the strategic development of our Partnership Programme – a programme he’s designing to drive further growth through our network of global partners.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born and raised in the beautifully verdant and diverse city of Bristol. At university, in Portsmouth, I studied German & International Business which included spending time studying in Germany. After graduating I worked in Germany for a while to fund a mini-gap year during which I travelled around Africa and Australia.

When I returned to the UK I started my first ‘real’ job working for an outdoor furniture manufacture, initially as their Internal Export Sales Executive for their German-speaking markets. I then moved into a client-facing role in the UK. From there I went ‘on the road’, in their German markets. I was then also given responsibility for Southern Europe, Asia, and Hong Kong. As you can imagine, with all the international travel, this was a pretty exciting role for someone not long out of University.

 

Richard Chaplin Head Of Partnerships

My career in professional lighting began when I was recruited by Thorn Lighting. At Thorn, my time was divided between two areas. I worked with project specifiers in the UK – architects, consultants, lighting designers – on their international projects. The other half for the role was working with our network of subsidiaries and channel partners across a number of markets – from the Baltics and Balkans to the US and Canada.

I then joined Thorn’s Middle East division and moved there to work with the commercial, technical, and back-office teams to reshape their sales organisation.

My next move was to Thorlux Lighting, part of the FW Thorpe Group, where I set up and ran their Middle East division.

Why did you decide to join Midstream?

I’d heard of Midstream of course, and when the opportunity came up to join the company as Head of Partnerships I decided to grab it with both hands.

One of the things that impressed me about Midstream was the people. It only employs specialists who are influencers at a high level in their markets. That gives Midstream real credibility in their key sectors.

How do you think Midstream differentiates itself from the competition?

As I’ve just said, the people. That’s not all though. The company stands out from the rest through its focus on its industry sectors – aviation, sports, maritime, and horticulture. Many companies start making luminaires, let’s say for airports. They start a project and get asked if they could supply some wall-mounted lights while they were at it and perhaps some downlights as well. Seeing this as an opportunity to increase turnover they end up losing focus on what they were good at to begin with, and start being ‘a Jack of all trades’.

That’s a very common model. It’s not Midstream’s approach though.

Midstream has stuck to its core sectors of expertise and hasn’t diversified from them. That means a Midstream customer is getting a high-quality solution that’s been fine-tuned to the needs of their market. It also means the customer is getting advice and benefitting from the knowledge of experts who are immersed in that sector and that industry. So, the Midstream value proposition for the customer is massive.

What is your role at Midstream and what excites you about it?

My role is Head of Partnerships – a new role for the company focusing on creating a new Partnership Programme to support all our existing and new partners to succeed all over the world.

The difficult part of the role won’t be finding the businesses that want to become our partners, the company and its products speak for themselves. The exciting part, and the challenge, is going to be finding the right companies, in the right markets that have the right attitude. It’ll then be all about nurturing them and giving them the right tools to be successful and to be able to represent Midstream like an extension of our organisation. Our ultimate goal? Midstream product user satisfaction to the same high level, regardless of country, vertical, or language. Because a satisfied customer is one who’ll happily place their next order with Midstream and tell their peers about us.

What I’m also excited about and really looking forwards to is working with people who are immersed in their industries and know what they’re talking about. I’m not an ‘industry’ person. I’m a ‘lighting’ person with exposure to various industries. So hopefully, I can help share knowledge within the group and further enhance our position as a complete solutions provider to the customer.

You’re used to working closely with partners, dealers, distributors – how do you plan to use this experience to help Midstream grow?
I’ve had 20+ years of working with partners – including channel partners – all around the globe. Some of these have been dedicated to industry verticals, some generalists. So I’ve got lots of experience of how these companies operate and how people work in different cultures and settings. That all stands me in good stead for this role. As I said, the secret to helping Midstream grow will be identifying, appointing, and developing partner companies that already have, or are prepared to invest in, the right mix of tools in their bag to do the best job for us in each particular industry sector.

You’re used to working closely with partners, dealers, distributors – how do you plan to use this experience to help Midstream grow?

I’ve had 20+ years of working with partners – including channel partners – all around the globe. Some of these have been dedicated to industry verticals, some generalists. So I’ve got lots of experience of how these companies operate and how people work in different cultures and settings. That all stands me in good stead for this role. As I said, the secret to helping Midstream grow will be identifying, appointing, and developing partner companies that already have, or are prepared to invest in, the right mix of tools in their bag to do the best job for us in each particular industry sector.

What defines a good partner?

I believe that a good partner is one where you play an important part in their business. Biggest isn’t always best – it depends on their portfolio. But I think ideally you need to be the only product of your type they represent. Mid-sized companies can be the most effective partners in most cases. Companies that have a reasonable amount of resource but also not so many products that you get lost in their ‘pile of catalogues’ are ideal.

If you’re important to them, say you represent more than 20% of their turnover, they’ll be more engaged with you. They’ll spend the time watching your webinars, reading your marketing materials, product brochures, and will take note of new product updates. Why? Because that’s time well spent and will help them sell more of your products. So, that’s the type of partner I’ll be targeting.

Tell us something your CV doesn’t

I’ve been a long-suffering Tottenham Hotspur fan since the age of eight – when they were actually quite a good team. I’ve waited for over 35 years for a title victory. I’m still waiting… patiently, just.

What do you do in your spare time?

I used to run a lot, competing in 5K, 10K, half marathons, and I ran the London Marathon in 2008. I also used to be an avid rower. Nowadays, I run when I can, go kayaking and canoeing with my son, and play golf when I have time – which isn’t as often as I’d like. I also help out at my son’s cub scouts group and enjoy taking part in their hiking, camping, and general outdoor activities.

Richard Chaplin - Head of Partnerships Midstream Lighting

Richard Chaplin, Head of partnerships at Midstream Lighting

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