George Friend Feature

George Friend Feature

George Friend is most commonly known for being a professional footballer in the left back position for Middlesbrough FC. However we wanted to find out more about his entrepreneurial and business knowledge. George comes from an entrepreneurial family and he has harnessed these family traits to develop businesses that are both football and family orientated.

George began his football career as a youth team player for the non-League Exeter City and by March 2006 he had signed a two-year professional contract. During the 2007-08 season, George Friend became the youngest ever captain in Exeter’s history. In September 2008 he was snapped up by Wolverhampton Wanderers. Prior to signing for Doncaster Rovers in 2010, George previously had loan spells playing for Millwall, Southend United, Scunthorpe United and back to Exeter during his time at Wolverhampton Wanderers. On 23 July 2013 Middlesbrough announced the signing of George, where he quickly became a fans favourite being nicknamed Gorgeous George.

George Friend as a Footballer…

 

FACT FILE

Full Name – GEORGE ANDREW JORDAN FRIEND

Date Of Birth – 19th October 1987

Birth Place – BARNSTAPLE, ENGLAND

Height – 6 FT 2 IN (1.88M)

Playing Position – LEFT BACK

Where were you born and raised?

Barnstaple (Devon) by the coast. Beautiful beaches.

When did you get your break in football (in your opinion)? 

When I was 17 and played for Exeter City in the then conference taking the day off college to play against Forest Green Rovers. (I had played a rugby match for the school the day before).

Best player you played alongside at the boro?

Jonathan Woodgate and Shay Given

Most challenging opponent?

Paul Scholes and David Silva

Great football successes?

Promotion with Exeter and Wolves. Playing in the Premier League. Captaining and making over 100+ appearances for Boro, hopefully lots more great moments to come.

How did you get into business? Who / what was the driving force?

Through my Dad and brother. I come from quite an entrepreneurial family as both my parents and brother have started their own businesses. I’m also lucky that having grown up on a farm I had the platform to be creative and the opportunity to get started from a young age. Also by being in football I was able to see new ventures and broaden ideas from a different perspective, rather than purely an agricultural angle.

Best player you played alongside at the boro?

Through my Dad and brother. I come from quite an entrepreneurial family as both my parents and brother have started their own businesses. I’m also lucky that having grown up on a farm I had the platform to be creative and the opportunity to get started from a young age. Also by being in football I was able to see new ventures and broaden ideas from a different perspective, rather than purely an agricultural angle.

George Friend as a Businessman…

People may not be aware of the other side to George Friend. This is his entrepreneurial side. George has a stake in three businesses. It was really interesting in finding out about the diverse businesses that George is part of.

George helps to run a business that relates to his playing career and two that revolve around his family’s agricultural background.

First Company is Buy George…

What Industry it is in?

Buy George is a food company specialising in quality organic ready-made meals for athletes post training or matches.

Can you tell us a bit about what the business does?

 

The business is currently under redevelopment following a period of mild success between 2008 to 2011. We supplied meals for away matches to a variety of championship and premier league clubs.

Where it is based?

 

North Devon, the kitchen was situated 5 mins from our farm in a place called Umberleigh.

How did you first get involved?

While I was at Wolves I saw a gap in the market as the club was ordering pizzas for players post matches. I then realised most clubs didn’t have adequate ‘quality’ post match food at their disposal.

Who are your business partners if any?

 

Our chef in Devon and my father acted as a partner.

How can you see the business evolving?

 

The business needs full time management and more promotion/sales staff to really evolve, for this reason I am putting things on hold to concentrate on football and redevelop, to build up business again in the future with hopefully more staff.

What has surprised you most about the business?

 

 

That there is certainly a clear market and a demand for the product. To really expand it needs more time spent on it that I can’t fill at the moment. Also surprisingly the cost to courier food isn’t too expensive!

Second Company is Wood Chip Works…

What Industry it is in?

Renewable energy industry

Can you tell us a bit about what the business does?

We dry/season and chip logs providing woodchip to fuel biomass boilers and occasionally horse arenas. We also contract out our wood chipper for a daily rate.

Where it is based?

North Devon

How did you first get involved?

When my brother and I stored logs at our farm and decided to make the leap to buy a chipper from Germany. Also the boom in renewable energy, specifically biomass boilers in the Devon area, we have installed two for ourselves at the house and at the workshop.

Who are your business partners if any?

My brother and a full time employee.

How can you see the business evolving?

I believe there is a shortage of large scale chippers local to us and government incentives surrounding the installation of renewable fuelling means more people will require woodchip. Hopefully things will continue to expand as it’s exciting times for us.

What has surprised you most about the business?

The demand has surprised me, which of course is a good thing a lot of people are seeking ways to be more efficient. Also the price of wood chippers!

Third Company is Friend Engineering…

What Industry it is in?

Agricultural Engineering

Can you tell us a bit about what the business does?

This is the most agricultural based business, which covers all arable work on the farm in North Devon. We have a range of equipment from combines and tractors to slurry tankers and drills.

Where is it based?

North Devon

How did you first get involved?

This business has evolved ever since my brother and I left college/university, all based on the farm where we grew up, originally started by my Dad.

Who are your business partners if any (brother)?

Brother – several employees.

How can you see the business evolving?

 


The farm is always changing and the need to diversify is very important. Therefore we are continually trying to improve machinery and different forms of arable agriculture.

What has surprised you most about the business?

Farming is incredibly important to my family, but has its difficulties and challenges especially when harvesting and coping with changeable markets.

Business Approach…

Finally we asked George about how he was encouraged to develop these businesses. We wanted to know where George got his inspiration from.

What’s the best thing to happen since you started the businesses?

 


The relationship with my brother is brilliant and we’re very close. It’s good to have interests outside of football and to be part of alternative businesses, which is an enjoyable distraction but also interesting and challenging.

Tell me about the person who has been your biggest influence in business?

 


I would say my Dad because he kept the farm running himself while working abroad for the United Nations for many years. He has coped with the stress of managing huge finances, continually diversifying (from dairy to poultry), while supporting four children giving us a fantastic upbringing. At one point Dad had 125,000 chickens and well over 1,000 acres of arable land, this being just one of the large-scale projects he was involved in. My brother and I regularly seek his advice.

If you never had the opportunity in football, what do you think you would be doing instead?

 


I was always determined to become a professional athlete whether it be in football or another sport. Outside of sport it would probably be in business through the farm as I’m currently doing but on a full-time basis, hopefully with some extra little side projects.

Finally what advice would you tell someone who is thinking about starting a business?

 


I’m relatively new to business but what I would say is it’s worth working towards something that you’re interested in. Have a good accountant. Most importantly work with people you can trust.

Final Thoughts…

Through speaking to George it was easy to see that he has a keen eye for business and the potential for success is something that is strategically planned. A lot of people in George’s financial position may continuously invest money until success is seen.

George’s approach is to spot a gap in the market and to develop it through his own knowledge and experience of each particular industry.

We want to take this opportunity to thank George for taking part in this. It is genuinely a breath of fresh air to spend time with someone like George Friend.

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