A Life In Nets: An Interview With Renco Founder, Rene Jorgensencreative45
In the thirty years we’ve been in business, Renco has come a long way. From a tiny one-man operation providing nets to the local fishing industry to one of the biggest suppliers of soft play netting in the UK, we’re very proud of our history.
It’s why we thought it would be a great idea to sit down with the man who started it all – our founder, Rene Jorgensen – and dig a little deeper into the history of Renco.
RENCO: It is. But anyhow, I’m not sure how we got onto that. I really wanted to ask how you got into the netting industry?
RENE: Yes. Well, it was 1980, I think. Between 1980 and maybe 1984. I was working for a Danish factory producing and exporting fishing netting. At the time England and Scotland were big markets. But I also sold to Holland, Belgium and later, Sweden and Denmark. Lots of European countries. And Canada, as well.
RENCO: And how did Renco come about?
RENE: Well, I did those first few years and then I took a break and tried some other things. But then in the late eighties I came back to the industry. I took a job with another little netting firm in Denmark.
We knew to make the business work, we’d need to have a presence in England or Scotland. I thought it would be necessary to move here. So I did.
RENCO: What made you choose Grimsby?
RENE: It was in a great position at the time and was kind of halfway between England and Scotland, if you know what I mean. There were great transport routes up and down the coast. The whole industry was strong then and the fish processing in Grimsby was huge too.
RENCO: So you found yourself in Grimsby and that’s when the idea for Renco started, right?
RENE: Yes. The guy I was working with in Denmark – we had different ideas of customer service. So I said I was moving and that I was going to set up on my own. He understood, I hope. And so that’s really when Renco started.
It’s funny now when I think back to it. It was risky really. But I set up a trip around England and Scotland. It was about two weeks and I travelled around picking up as many orders as I could in person to keep me busy for a while.
RENCO: It must have been pretty daunting?
RENE: It was. But at that time, that wasn’t the really hard part. It was finding good suppliers. I went to Spain and found a netting supplier there. It was tough to begin with. I was told I’d have my netting order in six weeks, but the delivery time ended up being six months.
RENE: Yes. It was tough. I managed to stay afloat. But it meant finding other suppliers too.
What made things worse was in the 90s things really started declining in the fishing industry. Grimsby was hit hard. Fleetwood, Lowestoft, Hull. Places like that found it hard too. Revenue fell. Profit plummeted.
RENCO: How did you survive the downturn?
RENE: A little bit of luck, really. By pure coincidence, someone outside the fishing industry got their hands on one of our nets.
At the time, each net had a tag on it with our name, our phone number. Ha. We even had our fax number on there. I suppose you’ll barely remember fax machines!
But anyhow, it turned out this person used netting for children’s play areas.
RENCO: And that’s how you got into soft play netting?
RENE: Yes. I had no idea. But it soon became clear there was a huge market there. It’s one of our biggest areas today still.
That pure moment of chance saved Renco.
RENCO: That’s really interesting. And since then the business has gone from strength to strength.
RENE: It has. But it’s strange that people still think of netting as being all about the fishing industry. Or that it’s about sports netting, maybe. But it’s really the children’s soft play industry that’s our biggest customer now.
RENCO: It’s strange that it was there all along but wasn’t obvious.
RENE: I agree. I don’t have kids so I’d just never thought about it. It’s funny that it was right in front of me. And happily we discovered it eventually. I’m so glad we did. It’s something I’m very proud of – that we were able to find a way to extend the life of the company and even grow after the fishing industry declined.
RENCO: What else have you been most proud of about Renco?
RENE: Personally, I think back to when I was starting out and managed to establish stock in Peterhead. The biggest fishing port in UK. At the time it was a big challenge so it just sticks in my mind.
But more recently it’s been the way the team at Renco have handled customer service. I think they do it so well.
I believe more and more in business today customer service is equally as important as a quality product and our team are doing an excellent job in both departments.
RENCO: That’s great to hear, Rene, and thank you for sharing your story with us today.
RENE: It’s OK. It’s nice to remember how we got here. And of course, if people reading this need some netting, whether it’s for fishing, sports or children’s soft play…they should get in touch and hopefully we can help.