5 mins with…Jason Mace, MD, Gala Tent

Since 1999, Gala Tent have been making gazebos and marquees in the UK, so we chat to Jason Mace, managing director about how he is always open to new ideas and how his great-grandfather still motives him.

Jason Mace, Gala TentPlease explain who you are, what your business is and what it does/aims to achieve?

I am Jason Mace, managing director of Gala Tent Ltd; the UK’s leading manufacturer and distributor of gazebos and marquees for both domestic and commercial clients, since launching in 1999. We work with councils, emergency and military services, businesses and domestic customers, to name a few, across Europe to provide quality, affordable marquees and gazebos for pop up events, markets, weddings and celebrations.

We sell over 15,000 gazebos and marquees each year and our warehouse currently holds the largest stock of gazebos and marquees in Europe, constantly expanding our product range to reach new clients.

When I launched Gala Tent, we aimed to make buying a marquee more affordable than renting one. Today, Gala Tent holds over 20 patents, has over 10 international distributors and we have achieved an annual turnover in excess of £10 million. We aimed to become the world’s most trusted and favourite gazebo and marquee company: a target which is well within sight.

What inspired you to start your business? (And what made you want to be your own boss?)

I had just turned 27 when I felt I had a voice in my head telling me to make something of myself and to stop messing around with my professional life; play time was over. I made the decision to listen to that voice one day and started to ask myself creative questions such as “how can I put my skills to use.” And “where do I see myself in 10 years time?”

At the time I was working in a job which didn’t suit my skills or challenge my creativity. One day, in a moment of madness, I walked out. I would say that was my turning point: I knew I needed to earn a living to eat and pay the bills, but I also realised there was much more to life than the typical 9-5 working day.

It took a while to develop a solid plan, but for the first time in my life it felt as if I was in control of my future and once I started looking for them, opportunities began to appear.

Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?

Errors in judgement and mistakes are all part of learning about business. I can’t think of any entrepreneurs who don’t wish they’d done at least one thing differently and I’m no exception.

Don’t shy away from making a decision because you think it won’t work or you’re scared of giving the wrong answer. More often than not, the decisions you make will be good rather than bad.

Even if the decision you make proves to be incorrect, you will learn from the mistakes you make and that’s invaluable. Always look at the positives of the situation and move on. There isn’t time in business to sit around licking your wounds.

Would you do anything differently if you could start again from scratch?

Absolutely, but that’s all part of the learning process. It can be easy to dwell on the what ifs and maybes, it’s human nature but I think the journey is just as important as the destination.

If I could go back in time and give myself advice at the start of my business journey there are some things I’d change, some things I’d do differently and other things I wouldn’t do at all. When you work as an entrepreneur it’s in your blood, you live and breathe your business and the best advice I can offer is to always be open to new ideas. It’s been 16 years since I launched Gala Tent and I’m still learning. The same can be said for other business leaders.

What would you be doing if you weren’t running your own business?

One of my passions is combat sports. I’ve always had an interest in martial arts, particularly boxing, and think I’d look to carve out a career in that industry. My great-grandfather was Jem Mace, the last bare knuckle heavyweight boxing champion of the world. His determination to be the best in the boxing world has always inspired me and I’ve applied the same levels of determination to the ways in which I conduct my business.