Toni Dawson - ASB Business Award winner 2016

          

Quality and high standards inspire me as well as people who have true grit and determination to succeed against all the odds          

What is your current role within the company?

Owner / Managing Director of Sugar & Spice, Largs.

What is your background prior to working for this company/setting up your company?

I grew up in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire where my parents had a long-established family entertainment centre incorporating tenpin bowling, licensed bar and restaurant and family leisure park.  My father also had other business interests across Scotland, mainly in the amusement and leisure and catering industry.  I worked within those businesses during school holidays gaining experience across all areas until, after 30 years’ trading, my father was declared bankrupt after a series of investments and a huge increase in interest rates which meant he was no longer able to service his level of borrowing.  My parents lost everything. They moved into my 1-bedroomed flat and I moved in with my grandmother in Ayr.

Shortly after this I was offered the opportunity to manage a seasonal ice cream outlet by another leisure operator in Largs.  After 1 summer of trading I realised there was potential to do more in Largs and I seized the opportunity to rent a prime site shop near the promenade ferry terminal and I set up my own business at the beginning of the following year.

What makes your company and/or your role stand out?

Quality, choice and service.

What is your area of expertise / inspiration?

Ice cream production and retail.  My father was a huge inspiration to me and urged me to “go for it” before he died of cancer a few years after I established my business.  My mother assists me in the business and continues to inspire me just as much as my father did.

What are your plans for the future?

After 16 years of trading I rebranded my business in 2016 in memory of my father, which also happened to be the name of my ice cream brand.  My plans for 2017/18 are to refit my shop interior and fine tune my retail concept with a view to opening another 2 shops within the next 5 years.

What inspires or motivates you?

Quality and high standards inspire me as well as people who have true grit and determination to succeed against all the odds, especially those who started with very little.  I’m self-motivated and regard no one other than myself as my rival.  Every day I try to do something better, be it working on me or on my business.