This week’s Why Draper subject is the Draper employee with the longest commute. Richard Wilson lives in western England, and is a consultant in our Solar Control Solutions department. Whether biking, traveling, or working, Richard is in perpetual motion.
How did you come to be working at Draper?
To be honest, I had never anticipated that I would work for Draper–it just sort of happened! I had been working as a consultant to a competitor for more than 10 years and had anticipated that I would continue to do so for many more years. In 2013, however, the company decided to step away from the specialty shading business which meant that I no longer had a role with them. I was fortunate that I was approached by a number of companies, including Draper. I knew of the company but my knowledge of their business was very limited. My first meeting with the Draper team was in Germany. They were researching the solar control business and I flew to Munich from the US and then drove out to a small town called Erbensdorf to meet Mike and Chris Broome as well as a number of other members of the management team. I was at the end of a long trip and was jet lagged but despite that I must have made some impression because I was invited out to Spiceland to see the Draper offices and factory and to meet some more members of the management team. I was very impressed with what I saw, liked the people that I met and felt that I could contribute to the development of Draper’s solar control business. It’s now more two years since I started working with the company and I look forward to continuing to do so for many more.
What do you like best about your job?
My role at Draper is an unusual one. For three weeks each month I work at home and then I spend between five and eight working days in the US. Compared with most employees I therefore have a long commute – about 7,000 miles!
One of the things that I like best about my role at Draper is its unpredictability. One moment I might be working on an article for the architectural press; shortly after that I’m working on an off the wall project such as venetian blinds with 12” wide extruded slats for a building in Los Angeles or 30’ wide x 80’ drop roller shades for the Culture Shed in New York.
I also enjoy the travel that’s part of my job. Spending time in airports, planes and hotels isn’t great fun but I start getting itchy feet if I haven’t traveled for a while. I did a quick check on the number of US states that I’ve visited in connection with business and I came up with 36. Just a further 14 to go!
What are some of your funniest moments at Draper?
In the last two years I’ve spent quite a lot of time working with Todd Garner in New York. One of my main challenges has been to get him to walk and take the subway rather than catch cabs. I must say that it’s been quite a success. A few moths ago, I persuaded Todd to have a go on the Citi bikes that are dotted around the city. Having paid a small amount to be able to use the bikes for a day, you then get a bike from a docking station and set off. Each bike has to be returned to a docking station within 30 minutes at which point you can take another one. We spent a Sunday morning racing around Manhattan although I’m not certain that racing is the right word when riding a heavy bike with only three gears. I’ve suggested to Todd that, in the future, we should use the bikes to get from one architectural appointment to the next–that’s my challenge for next year.
What do you like to do in your time away from Draper?
As you may have picked up from my last response, cycling is my big passion. I have two road bikes and a mountain bike although these days I generally ride on the road. I try to get out three or four times a week–several 25 mile rides on weekday evenings and a 60 or 70 mile ride over the weekend with my local cycle club. During the winter months I use a turbo trainer that is permanently set up in my office riding to videos made by a company called ‘The Sufferfest’. With names such as Fight Club, Violator, and The Wretched, I can assure you that they’re as tough as they sound!
When not on my bike, a lot of my time is spent working around the house. My wife and I own an early Victorian villa that was built in 1840 and which needs constant attention to keep it in good shape.
Tell us about your family
My wife, Hilary, and I have been married for 35 years. We live in a small market town, Ross-on-Wye, which is on the western side of England, close to Wales. We have three children – our oldest daughter, Amy, will be 32 on Christmas Day (you can’t hope for a better present!) and our youngest daughter, Martha, is 27. In between, we have a son, Ralph.
Hilary is a social worker and has spent many years working for children’s services dealing, amongst other things, with fostering and adoption. Amy lives in a nearby city, Bristol, and is the sales manager for a company that designs, manufactures and installs tensile fabric structures. Ralph is in London working with an international construction engineering firm, Arup, and Martha is the manager of a toy store and lives near us in Ross. Trying to get everyone together is not an easy task as they all have busy jobs and social lives. They always make it home for Christmas, however, and it’s amazing how they manage to make time available if there’s a free vacation in the offing!