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When a passion becomes a profession

When a passion becomes a profession
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When a passion becomes a profession
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

It’s what we all want: to feel we’ve found our career destiny and to love what we do. Director of Greenway-based, music repair company Sickamps, Chris Marshall has achieved just that, through a combination of professionalism, expertise and customer focus.

From an early age, Chris had a passion for electronics. He recalls: “I read electronic schematics better than I read books. In fact, when I was in primary school my teacher gave up on the idea of me learning to read because it was so clear that I just wanted to know how things worked.”

It was this passion that led him to become a sound engineer, but it wasn’t till a chance opportunity arose that Chris realised he could make a business out of his skills: “A mate asked me to fix his amp because I was good at electronics. I fixed it for him, it was pretty easy, and I enjoyed doing it - I loved the sense of achievement when I got it working again.” In 2006, Chris took the plunge and started operating as a sole trader. His business became a limited company in 2017.

Way better than a garage
It was Chris’s commitment to professionalism that led him to turn what had started as a hobby into his business, something his clients were quick to appreciate. Within a few years of setting up, Sickamps was looking for a permanent residence. Capital Space appealed to Chris as it was clear from the outset that its professional standards were every bit as high his own. “One of the reasons people come to me is because I don’t repair from my own garage - I’ve invested in a professional base and it shows. We are dealing with expensive equipment and we can give that reassurance to our customers that anything they leave in our care is safe,“ he says.  

“You hear horror stories about bad storage making equipment damp and then it can rust, but we have a really attractive, well-maintained space. We also have a professional website with an easy booking system – customers can even get updates on what’s happening with their amp or on any parts they’re waiting for.”

Sickamps business model has clearly been a huge success from the get-go, given that, in 2008, soon after moving into their Greenway home, the business were ready to move into a bigger unit. “We were very keen to stay in Greenway as the team here meet all our needs – and fortunately they were able to accommodate us with their usual efficiency.”

Sticking to the perfect tempo

Chris says that, in an industry where a quick, one-stop, not-necessarily-thorough service is often the order of the day, he is very keen to keep the business small, and to continue as an expert in his field. Chris knows his client base and says: “They want to feel valued and I want to continue offering them the personal experience. Although we are an online company, most of our sales come via recommendations. Since the music community is so tight-knit, we rely on word of mouth.”

Chris’s expertise is reflected in the calibre of some of the clients he’s attracted: “We’ve had Max from The Prodigy, Rich Hall the comedian’s country band, representatives from Radio 1 Live Lounge,” he says casually.  

“There have also been plenty of people I’ve not actually clocked as being famous until I’ve mentioned their names to my other half at home!”

Celebrity, professional or passionate amateur, all Sickamps customers are treated equally: “Every client is a human being at the end of the day and we give everyone the same great service.”

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