Interviews with Ocean Telecom: Steven Bradford, Managing Director
May 4, 2022
Ocean Telecom turned 20 in April, so we wanted to celebrate it!
Although our founders had been working in the telecoms industry since 1988, Ocean Telecom was established in 2002 where their experience and knowledge was brought together.
Find out more about our story in an interview with Steven Bradford, Ocean Telecom’s Managing Director below:
Happy 20th Birthday Ocean Telecom!
- So, Ocean Telecom turns 20 this month! Wow, congratulations! That is some achievement, can you tell us how the company started and why you started Ocean Telecom?
I’ve worked together with Lisa, my wife, for 31 years. We were working for a large national company that closed our branch. Seeing what was happening and with redundancy on the way, we saw an opportunity to start our own business. We spoke to a few key staff as well, and they were happy to join our new business.
It was Easter weekend in 2002. We were made redundant on the Thursday and began trading as Ocean on the following Tuesday. It was a very busy and stressful time. We had to learn new things very quickly and like so many business owners do, we put our house on the line to do it. In a blink of an eye, we had salaries, cars, suppliers, and a host of other overheads. But what we also had were great customers, and It’s great that so many are in fact still with us after all this time.
A former colleague, Giles, joined us a few months after we started. We didn’t have any salespeople to begin with and he’s up there with the best of them. He took a big leap of faith joining a new start-up, but twenty years on he’s a business partner and good friend
2. What are the top three happy memories of your last 20 years at Ocean?
Far too many things come to mind, but these stand out:
As we had to start so quickly after getting made redundant, Lisa & I initially based the business in our converted garage. Every Friday afternoon we all finished the week with a beer at our desks. Probably couldn’t do that now!
I remember getting our first cheque from a customer (it was mostly cheques back then). That was a big moment at the time. It represented that we had started something real.
After 10 years trading, we splurged on a big day out for the company at Newmarket races! Lisa has a knack for picking horses based on the name alone and spotted a horse in the first race had Ocean in its name. It had very long odds so wasn’t expected to come anywhere. Because of the name we bet on it, and would you believe it won! A good omen. We’re off to the races again soon for our 20th, so we’re hoping for more good luck.
3. Looking back would you do anything differently?
I honestly don’t think we would change anything major. We’ve doubtlessly made some mistakes along the way, but nothing significant. We worked for a very large business and never wanted to replicate that for our company. We value work/life balance, and push our team to work smart, rather than long hours. We’re happy if our staff and customers are happy. It’s harder to achieve than it sounds of course, but that’s what we strive for.
Giles joining early on gave us a sales foundation, and we’ve enjoyed extremely low staff turnover. The team is so important and without them we wouldn’t have a business. Our sales manager Colin is frequently saying “teamwork makes the dream work”, and as corny as that sounds, it really is true. Our team are fantastic!
4. Now let’s find out about who Steve is… Outside of Telecoms, what are your main interests and hobbies?
Lisa & I have a rescue Staffie called Buddy. He keeps us on our toes, and you can see a picture of him on our website. We love dogs and enjoy walks with Buddy. I still play Xbox believe it or not. I started playing Pong when I was about 8 years old, progressed to Atari, then onto Megadrive, Playstation and now Xbox. I’m now 53 and still playing. I love it.
I’m a keen golfer and play off 12. I’m a member at Bury St Edmunds and play most weekends. We enjoy breaks in the UK with Buddy and a week by a pool in Greece now and then never hurts. Lastly, I like cars. I was 50 three years ago so bought an MGB the same age as I am. When the weathers nice I like to go for a drive in the Suffolk countryside.
5. Most annoying habit?
I have a very short attention span. I’ll take this opportunity to apologise to everyone I’ve not listened to properly in the last 20 years 😊.
6. Do you have any phobias or fears?
One weird one. I’m quite chuffed that I’m not afraid of anything major, but I have a real issue with wooden lolly sticks. Freaks me right out and I can’t go near them. I’d rather slap a Lion than touch a lolly stick. I’m fine with anything else made of wood, it’s just those things.
7. Have you ever met someone famous?
I shook Prince Philip’s hand and met Dom Jolly once. I don’t really get the whole celebrity thing, so not in a rush to meet any more.
8. Do you have a nickname? If not has anyone at Ocean Telecom? (Keep it clean!)
Just Braddy. In fact, nobody but my wife and mother call me Steve. There’s lots of Steve’s about so it’s been Braddy since I was at school.
9. Favourite band or song?
I like all kinds of music. To give you an idea, my Spotify has Beethoven, Jay Z, Sigrid, Beastie Boys, Stormzy & Rammstein. I like what I like! I draw the line at folk music and opera, but that’s about it.
10. Craziest thing you have ever done? (That you can tell us!)
Tricky that one. I’ve been close to 200 mph and done things like bungee jumps. I think that’s all I’m prepared to say……..
11. What is the best advice you have ever been given in life?
I’m not sure I’ve been given any deep, meaningful memorable advice. I don’t have a great story of how my father sat me down one day to give me sage advice, or of meeting a monk on a mountain.
What I would say is that I have experienced life changing events. I’m very lucky to have wonderful friends in work and in my personal life. Lisa, my wife, is incredible, and her frequent advice to me is simply “Be kind to yourself”. That’s a great place to start.
12. What do you see happening in the next 20 years for Ocean Telecom?
Telecoms and IT have changed massively over the last twenty years, and I don’t see that rapid evolution slowing down. It’s our job to find the right solutions that business can practically adopt and get real value from.
Ocean has grown with our customers’ needs and will continue to do so. We’ve never wanted to be large. We’ve seen how that can affect the relationship with customers. We pride ourselves on fast responses to issues and a personal touch. We’re investing in new infrastructure behind the scenes and are always looking for new avenues to support our customers. For example, we are now offering EV chargers.
Twenty years has passed in a flash. There’s no reason there couldn’t be another twenty!