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David Bailey Furniture Systems Ltd.
12 Lysander Close
Pysons Road Industrial Estate
Kent CT10 2YJ


01843 604896

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From the M2 take the A299 (Thanet Way, Junction 7), then the A253 (Ramsgate). When you get to the new double roundabouts take the first left into Haine Road (A256).

From Haine Road turn right into Margate Road (A256), then turn left into Pysons Road, take the third left into Patricia Way and Pysons Road Industrial Estate, then take the first left into Lysander Close where you will find David Bailey Furniture Systems.

Carole Brown retires after 25 years manning the DBFS engine room

Carole Brown retires after 25 years manning the DBFS engine room

After 25 years at David Bailey Furniture Systems (DBFS) Carole Brown is retiring in February 2020. It marks the end of an era at DBFS. Carole has long been seen as a linchpin at DBFS by staff, architectural and building contractor customers and business partners. You might think that saying goodbye to Carole could create a business void, but that would be to forget that Carole is the ultimate professional and has, over her 25 years with the company, been planning for this day by creating her ‘business bible’ (more of that later!). Carole will be missed for her sense of humour, business drive, professionalism and can-do attitude to every aspect of her business life but while she’ll be gone, Carole will definitely not be forgotten!

Joined in 1995

In February 1995 the UK was covered in fog, the temperature was 9°C and as you’d expect it was raining. In that year we saw Mark Foster break the world swimming record for the butterfly and the Friends series being promoted by Channel 4 as the new ‘one to watch’. In this year business life at DBFS was also going to see a change – for the better – when Carole was offered a temporary receptionist role. Carole made such an impact that she was swiftly offered a permanent role. It would be easy to say at this point that ‘the rest is history’ but Carole became such an integral part of DBFS that her impact was felt across the whole company.

At that time DBFS had about 20 employees across the office and factory but within the next few years the company expanded, nearly tripling its staff, extending the factory and increasing internal office space. Carole is too modest to discuss her effect on the expansion but it’s no coincidence that her focus provided a welcome and refreshing supporting role, enabling the team to develop the business and deliver larger contracts and expand into different business areas.

Carole and her husband, Mike, on holiday in Thailand
Carole and her husband, Mike, on holiday in Thailand

Creation of the blue book “bible”

Carole had her own challenges during her early years. On joining the company, typewriters and fax machines (remember these?) were the height of ‘office automation’. She soon faced her own learning curve with the introduction of PCs with WordPerfect word processing and then later migrating to a bespoke, fully automated estimating system, integrated scheduling, contract activity database logging and the introduction of ‘true’ office automation software. With all the business changes Carole quickly realised that operational processes needed to be documented and her blue book (her bible) was created. Meticulous and detailed notation of how and why processes and procedures worked and changed were all documented in ‘the bible’. It was a physical embodiment of Carole’s approach to business detail and planning. An approach that has seen her take on the mantle as the “go-to-person” at DBFS who can share the knowledge she has gained from her time at the company.

PA to Trevor Gillman

With the expansion at DBFS came changes to Carole’s role. No longer manning reception, Carole took on, among other activities, a PA role supporting Trevor Gillman. Carole had previously worked as a PA for an internationally renowned music impresario, Wout Steenhuis. In her former PA role she had been responsible for the support and management including international travel arrangements, liaison with booking agents and of course meeting a host of famous people. Immediately prior to joining DBFS Carole had worked as a legal secretary at a Kent based legal firm. This prior experience bought a raft of experience to DBFS and as Trevor, now managing director at DBFS, says “With Carole’s support, drive and business experience, I was able to progress in my role to expand the company knowing that Carole was providing solid support for me in the office. Having moved to her current position, with her DBFS knowledge I still see her as a reliable sounding board when I’m mulling over various business situations.”

Contract coordinator

After several years further demonstrating her understanding of the DBFS business and with her tenure at the company, Carole moved to the role of Contract Coordinator. An important role coordinating with all company departments and liaising with all customers. In this position Carole works with internal staff to ensure that associated contract drawings, documentation and schedules produced at DBFS are coordinated effectively with customers. A role that saw Carole add more activities and notations to her ‘bible’!

Alongside her ‘day job’ Carole also took on responsibility as ‘social manager’ organising events including the Christmas parties, social evenings, and the Kent ‘It’s a Knockout’ DBFS team – which DBFS won!

We caught up with Carole to ask about her time at DBFS and what’s in store for the future:

Carole is a keen tropical fish enthusiast
Carole is a keen tropical fish enthusiast

So, your ‘bible’, what happens to that now?
“I’ll be updating it until my last day at DBFS and I’ve been using it to train my replacement, it will be handed on to make sure there is no break in working processes. It’s really important for me to know that DBFS will continue at the highest level of professionalism that I have seen and been involved with.”

What have been the biggest changes you have seen in your 25 years with the company?
“Automation has been one of the biggest changes both in the factory and the office which gives us so much streamlining and helps us to meet tight deadlines. But the biggest change has been the size of contract that we are now dealing with. When I first started, we managed small healthcare projects, whereas today we are delivering on projects ranging from £50k through to £1m+ contracts. While the focus is mainly on healthcare, we have over the years, introduced additional furniture ranges that have become a major part of the business and that has been an exciting experience, developing new markets and seeing them succeed.”

What would you say has been the biggest change in your own roles?
“I don’t make Trevor’s coffee anymore! But seriously seeing the company move to online marketing has been an enjoyable area to be involved with – when I first joined the Company, websites weren’t ‘a big thing’, brochures were posted not downloaded and enquires all came from calls not online forms, email and chat-bots.”

What will you miss?
“Everybody and everything. I have enjoyed everything I’ve done at DBFS (except maybe filing!) and the wonderful people I have worked with. DBFS is a professional organisation with a family culture and feel, where people look out for each other. The biggest thing I will miss is working with Trevor. He is such a wonderful boss and a fantastic person (don’t tell him though as I wouldn’t want him to get big headed!).”

Carole at a DBFS Christmas party
Carole at a DBFS Christmas party

And any memorable moments you’ll remember?
A few years ago, we supplied healthcare furniture to ITV for the medical drama Monroe, starring James Nesbitt. I visited the set with Trevor to see how our bespoke furniture was used in-situ and how sparkling new furniture was transformed to look ‘in-use’ by the production’s art team. Very exciting!”

How do you think DBFS staff will remember you?
“Simple, accident prone! I am always the one that manages to get injured. A few examples of this (and there are lots!) I was showing off, demonstrating to people in the office how an exercise wheel is used, slipped, went flat on my face and split my nose; standing in the office next to a fax machine, the tassels on my loafer shoes got caught in the stand and as I turned to walk away I ended up on the floor again. Even when I was just ‘there’ I ended up being the accident prone one. I remember standing with a few people in an office when a seagull flew into the window of the main office, scared a woman standing in front of me and as she jumped back her stiletto heel went through my foot. I am definitely, and will be remembered as, the accident prone one!”

So to the future. You are a livewire at work, how will you fill the space?
“My life outside work is already very full so I will be extending my social activities with my spare time. I’m probably the oldest ‘DJ in town’! I DJ at weddings, Christmas parties and social events and focus on dance music through the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s. I get all my bookings by word of mouth – I’ve never had to advertise. I also host Karaoke evenings – branded as CAROLOKE! – and have a good group of followers that turn up at each session.

Carole hosts Karaoke evenings, branded as “Caroloke”
Carole hosts Karaoke evenings, branded as “Caroloke”

“With my husband we’ve bought a big motor home and we will be travelling around the UK & Europe and getting some well-earned R&R time!”

Carole and Mike’s motor home
Carole and Mike’s motor home

“And that’s not all as I am also a keen tropical fish enthusiast and I can spend more time on this hobby. Considering what I will do with more time, it does make we wonder how I managed to fit everything in while working!”

As her departure approaches, Trevor Gillman, David Bailey Furniture Systems MD reflects on Carole’s time at DBFS:

“I’ve known and worked with Carole for her 25 years at DBFS and she will be missed as a colleague and a friend. I knew that Carole would make sure her departure didn’t affect DBFS, I just didn’t realise how well she would manage her transition. Carole has been instrumental in training her replacement, and of course handing over her ‘bible’ to make sure that it’s business as usual.

“It’s not often that you meet such a professional, hardworking, dedicated and fun person, and Carole is all of those. She will be missed but is now an honorary DBFS’er and will be welcome at any time and at any of our social events, which she’ll now be able to enjoy fully as others will be managing the arrangements!”

The world has seen massive cultural changes over 25 years that have impacted all our lives including the internet, mobile phones, streaming music, social media and 24 hour TV, flights that cost 1/10 of the price they did 25 years ago and the beginning and end of the Star Wars series. However, ask any of the DBFS staff and they would say that while the world has changed, their lives have probably been impacted more as they have experienced working life with Carole!