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EHE Capital – Meet The Founders: Gary Fletcher’s Story

Tuesday 15 June 2021

There have been many twists and turns in the journey that led me to become co-founder of EHE Capital. There have been times of success and a healthy amount of failures too, but I’d say managing to stay happily married for 30 years is probably my biggest achievement!

Along with that, I built a business and sold it for nine figures, and acquired and built a property company with 30 different residential and commercial units in Chester.

 

Now, I’m a chairman and investor in several businesses, and co-founder of EHE Capital.

 

I’ve also been lucky enough to write two books, one of which is available on Amazon (Freedom to Achieve: The Forest Holidays Story). My other one Pathfinder, a book to help young students be successful, can be sourced by emailing me in the details at the end of this blog. 

 

Lastly, I’m proud to have founded Kids Village Charity, which provides holiday homes to terminally ill children and their parents.

 

So, that’s what I’ve done, and it’s been very rewarding. But how the hell did I get there? That’s the interesting part.

 

My early years

 

At school, I got by with being good at sports. I wasn’t particularly bright, and my dream was to be a soccer player, which never really took off.

 

So, I ended up going into sports management after scraping a couple of A Levels together and getting myself a degree at the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education (now the University of Chichester).

 

Getting strangled by bureaucracy 

 

I ended up working at a government sports centre where I did quite well. I hit the budget for the first time in decades and then doubled my salary in another sports centre not long after.

 

Although I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, I had this entrepreneurial character that needed creativity, and I felt I was trapped in the bureaucracy of local government.

 

I was turning these sports centres around financially and economically putting them on the map, but because of all the laws and legislations, I was just getting into trouble for doing it! This was incredibly frustrating for me, and I decided I’d had enough. 

 

The same old frustrations 

 

I packed up and decided to travel the world for nearly two years, working in many different jobs, from removals to fruit markets to a casino bar.

 

Then it was time to come home. Not wanting to go back to the bureaucratic cage of the government sports centres, I got a job apple picking on a farm.

 

However, the lure of financial need found me back in sports management. I got a job running five or six leisure facilities, where, although it was slightly more interesting, the same old frustrations surfaced.

 

Those frustrations grew to breaking point one day when I told my boss, “I’d rather pick peas than work for you!” As you can imagine, that played a part in my exit.

 

The Asda years 

 

I left that job with a wife, two young girls and a mortgage to pay for, and these were hard times. My wife calls them the “Asda years” as we could only really afford to buy Asda smart-priced products.

 

But during that time, I had a lightbulb moment. I started listening to some tapes from a guy called Jim Rohn, who opened my eyes to the power of personal development. 

 

I devoured his tapes and his books and that set me on the road to setting my own goals, taking responsibility and turning my life around.

 

Going out on my own

 

During those years, I went out to work for myself. I produced a publication called Sports and Leisure Jobs Express, started a vending machine business and built an overseas fitness company.

 

On top of that, I started developing a property with a business partner. He funded it, and I did all the work.

 

We probably did about ten properties, including a small hotel, which was a massive education for me. My challenge was when it came to settling up. I was expecting around £190,000. I got paid a grand total of £1,800.

 

I was devastated.

 

I had sunk hours and hours into this business and was left with barely anything to show for it. I had little over £3,000 in savings, a family to support and a mortgage, so I quickly needed a job.

 

Turning things around

 

That’s when I started working as a site director of the Camping and Caravanning Club.

 

They had about 100 sites around the country and they needed sorting out. Eventually, I managed to turn them around from a £90,000 loss to an £8 million surplus!

 

I thought I’d be there for six months, but I ended up staying six long but very enjoyable years.

 

And then Forest Holidays came into the picture. They were a government tender from the Forestry Commission that were really good at growing trees and managing the estate, but they weren’t good at being a holiday company. 

 

Success with Forest Holidays 

 

So I started managing their lodges and campsites too. I took about £7–8 million of their money in order to sort out their 21 campsites and turned them from a loss to making two and a half million pounds in profit. I gave that to the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Forestry Commission, which still runs today. 

 

Along with this, I also transformed the Forest Holidays cabins and moved the head office down from Edinburgh. I turned it into a business that had a higher NPS (Net Promoter Score) than Apple at the time! So I’d done a pretty damn good job transforming Forest Holidays before I eventually sold it to LDC Private Equity.

 

Then I continued to build the company with LDC Private Equity before selling for nine figures in 2017. 

 

Getting into private equity 

 

At that point I thought I might retire. However, then I got involved in being a chairman and investor with other companies, which I really enjoyed!

 

I enjoyed helping the CEO become successful, and I realised that I could take everything I have learnt in my journeys and pass it on to others. 

 

It was no longer about me. I wanted to help the CEO, and I became successful as a byproduct of that desire to help.

 

Then, I met Guy Remond, my partner in crime, and we founded EHE Capital, a private equity company that puts the entrepreneur at the centre of everything we do. We aim to give the power back to them when doing private equity deals, and try to match them up with the best non-executives with the right experience for them.

 

So, now it’s a Gary Fletcher 6.0 if you like, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us and the people we manage to help along the way!

 

I hope you have found this useful.

 

To learn more about my story, check out episode 17 of our podcast “Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together”. Alternatively, you can email us with your questions at guy@ehe.capital OR gary@ehe.capital.

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