In 1985 when John Sutherland founded the mobile-phone company Vanguard in North Wales, he realised that he had a struggle on his hands. ‘We had to convince clients that we didn’t sit on a hillside feeding sheep – and at that time, mobile phones cost about £2,000 and didn’t function in North Wales because of lack of coverage.’ Vanguard surmounted these challenges to increase sales by 84% a year from £8.1m in 1997 to £50.3m in 2000, when it employed 144 staff. Company activities now include offering technical support and phone repairs to small and medium-sized companies. Vanguard has recently expanded through acquisition, buying the mobile-phone wholesaler Evacom and the transport company TQL.
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