International Women’s Day Special: The Story of Flame UK

Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day, and we thought what a great time it would be to tell our story of how Flame UK began. In February 2015 our Managing Director, Pam Knight set up the company. But before we jump right to it, let’s rewind and start with a bit about Pam:

The story of Pam Knight

Pam was born into a hard-working background, growing up on her parents family farm in Long Bennington, Pam saw her parents work very hard from a young age. She recalls “My brothers, sister and I all helped. I was driving a tractor from the age of 8, doing all the ironing and cooking the family breakfast at 10 and potato picking at 12. I was brought up to appreciate hard work and the rewards from a young age.”

At the age of 13, Pam got her first job in Curry’s. “I was selling on the shop floor and signing up credit agreements – things were different back in the day! I left school at 16 and took an apprenticeship with a High Street Bank. I worked my way up to Bank Manager, and when I started my family, I took a career break. I then returned as the first job share Manager within Yorkshire Bank.”

“During my career break, I set up a property development business from the bank so that I could work around my children while they were young. Property has always been a passion of mine.”

So how did Pam get into the world of waste and energy?  “When my boys were little on a cold winters morning I was watching my eldest son play football. I got talking to one of the football Dads who was looking for some admin help in his waste business…the rest is history!”

“I set up the energy department for the business and started my career in Energy and Waste.  This started as a part-time position, however within a month it became full time as we were so busy, and there were only 3 people in the company at the time! I worked my way up to a directorship position and helped grow the company to 55 staff by the time the business was sold.

Very much like farming you sow your seeds and have to nurture them and wait a long time for them to grown, I feel a business is very similar, and when I set up Flame UK I knew it wouldn’t be for instant rewards

So, in February 2015 I set up Flame UK, and it was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life.  I live on my own with 3 boys to support, so everything always relied on me whether it was work or providing for the family.  I’m pretty sure my friends and family thought I was crazy when I sold the small property portfolio I had, which I used to live off, but they supported my vision. I didn’t pay myself a wage for the first couple of years as I started on my new business venture.”

The early days of Flame UK

“I started off in a small two-man office in the Bridgford Business Centre, I didn’t trade for my first six months of business as I needed to ensure I had the supplier infrastructure in place before trying to obtain business.

I moved from a two-man office into a six-man office and then moved again into an eight-man office in the first couple of years, before moving into our own premises on Churchill Business Park.

As a Director of a previous Waste and Energy business, I was involved at all levels of business, however, when you are on your own it really is a very different story.  You have to know and do everything yourself and keep yourself motivated even on really tough days, so the amazing title of Managing Director is Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance, Account Manager, Cleaner all rolled into one!

The last 5 years have been the biggest journey of my life so far, and I have learnt from the numerous mistakes I made in the early days.  My first website was shocking when I look back at it now, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing by going with a cheap company and doing a lot of work myself.  I am now on my third website, which I am immensely proud of, but it has taken me 5 years to get there. Now it’s constantly being updated with the support of our in-house marketing department.”

The highs and lows

“I invested a lot of money into the staff to help me grow the business with me, but as supportive as some of them were they will never have the same drive and passion that you do.  Staffing will always be a challenge for any business, and sometimes there are very difficult decisions that have to be made. Sadly this is the reality of running a business and maybe as a woman, you become more compassionate with induvial circumstances, but at the end of the day business is business and you have to make those difficult decisions.

Just as I started to turn the corner with the business I was faced with probably the most difficult situation I have ever had to deal with. Embezzlement of money from the company by someone I had trusted to help me grow the business and appointed as a director. It took me through some very dark times whilst still putting on that brave face to my family who relied totally on me.

I decided at that time to involve someone that I had previously worked with, along with his business partner and dilute my shares to grow the business.  It was probably one of the hardest yet best decisions I have made to date in the business.  Having fellow like-minded positive people around me who shared my vision, the business started to go from strength to strength.

Setting up a business is not easy, and I probably work the longest hours I have ever worked in my life. Being in the office at 6am and working through until the job is done, I see staff leave at 5pm and know I have at least another couple of hours work to do.  However, I can honestly say it has been the most rewarding years of my life at the same time and my vision of 5 years ago has become a reality.

There are different decisions reflecting over the last 5 years that would have been made, however, you only know what you know at the time, and at the time they all felt like the right decisions.

I am looking forward to where I can take the business in the next 5 years with the dedicated and loyal team that now all support the same Flame vision.

Everyone has their own challenges in business and it is great to see so many women “just doing it” so well-done to everyone, and keep up the amazing work.”

Now we’re an ever-growing team of 12 and business is flourishing in both waste and energy, and it’s all down to Pam.

 

   

Meet the team – Jamie-Leigh

Name: Jamie-Leigh James

Position: Marketing Assistant

Start Date: 1st July 2019

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

I really love music from rap to pop to heavy metal, there isn’t much I don’t like. The first concert I went to was Green Day when I was about 5 years old and a few months later I went to see Kylie Minogue. I have a very varied taste in music.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK? 

That I’m given the freedom to be creative and always feel like I can share my marketing ideas. I’m listened to and supported by everyone. The office has a second home vibe, not just a workplace.

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life? 

I have to say when I was in Turkey, just one particular moment first springs to mind. We went with my grandparents who used to go every year for 2 weeks for around 10 years. Then they didn’t go for a few years until they went with us in 2018 and they were like celebrities. Restaurant and shop owners were shouting them and so happy to see them again. We went back this year and will be going next year too.

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

Demi Lovato because she’s one of my idols and I think she’d be such a character.

Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer from Green Day, he was my first ever crush and I think he’s great and an honest person.

Kaley Cuoco who plays Penny from The Big Bang Theory. It’s my favourite TV show at the minute. I follow her on Instagram and she seems like great fun, plus she’s an animal lover.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

The earliest memory I have is wanting to be a fashion designer. I chose business studies and fashion & textiles for my GCSE’s because I wanted my own business. Then my first assignment was to make a skirt. I very quickly changed my mind after that.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I would be a Koala because they get to sleep for 22 hours a day.

What is your favourite movie? 

My go-to movie is always Trainspotting, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it I’ll always happily sit and watch it.

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK? 

That they’re going to be looked after.

 

 

Meet the team – Lauren

Name: Lauren Nash

Position: Account Manager

Start Date: 1st October 2019

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

It was the first time I’d painted my daughters’ feet at 4 months old and because she means a lot to me, so does the picture.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK? 

 It feels like I’ve joined a second family and I’ve only been here 5 minutes, everyone is so welcoming and the environment is spot on.

 What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life? 

 Having my daughter 2 years ago, nothing can beat giving birth to a ‘mini me’, although she seems to have inherited my attitude…

 If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

 Patrick Swayze – because who doesn’t love him in ‘Dirty Dancing’

Whitney Houston – her voice is insane!

Mrs Hinch (the Instagram clean queen) – so she could clean my house and give me all her tips in person (yes, I know I’m sad!)

 What did you want to be when you were younger?

 I wanted to be a Nurse as that’s my Mums profession and I’ve always looked up to her, however, I soon realised it wasn’t for me when I fell into the energy industry by accident.

 If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

 I would probably be a cat, you get 9 lives, sleep and eat whenever you like, demand attention and swan in and out of the house like you own the place.

 What is your favourite movie? 

 I can never choose between Dirty Dancing and Goodfellas.

 What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK? 

 You’ve made the right choice.

 

 

Meet the Team – Natalia

Name: Natalia Pegram

Position: Head of Finance

Start Date: December 2017

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

Its a photo I took in the Maldives – One of the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve travelled to.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK?

I love implementing systems to improve efficiencies and there are plenty of opportunities to do this as the business grows.

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life?

This is a really tricky one for me to answer as there have been many experiences I have been fortunate to enjoy. Living in sunny California for almost 7 years was pretty awesome!

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Gabriel Bonheaur “Coco” Chanel – She was an amazing successful woman and her legacy lives on. My downfall has to be Chanel Handbags and Jewellery!

Gordon Ramsey – I would need someone to cook for me, plus he’s smart and charismatic.

Blake Shelton – I love his music and he’s pretty tasty!

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Successful!

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

Right now I would choose to be a dog, but only if it was my dog “Bob”  He has such a chilled out life and goes everywhere with me.  He gets lots of treats and cuddles and is always happy.

What is your favourite movie?

Dirty Dancing!

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK?

Working at Flame is a great opportunity, not just a job.  Don’t be a passenger, you can make it happen.

 

 

Meet the team – Adil

Name: Adil Mahmood

Position: Energy Department Sales Manager

Start Date: 19th July 2018

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

I’m calm and collected, but if you get the wrong side of me I’ll bite like a snake – hence the rocks looking like a snake about to bite!!

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK? 

The Directors’ trust me to do my job, no micro-management. The fully supportive team around me at Flame regardless of department – all with similar dreams/ambitions which is to ensure Flame absolutely smash it!

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life? 

Going to Mecca and being at the centre of Islam.

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

Cristiano Ronaldo – massive United fan and he’s the best footballer ever

Kevin Hart – so funny!

Dwayne Johnson – an absolute tank and has been in various industries, would be good to get a taste of his life story

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Aeronautical Engineer!

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

Monkey! Because my mum has always told me I’m a little Monkey!!

What is your favourite movie? 

Blue Streak – cracking film!

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK? 

Flame is going places – you’re at the right place. Work hard and be part of it.

 

 

Meet the Team – Mark

Name: Mark Lonergan

Position: Business Development Manager

Start Date: January 2019

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

I love open spaces, especially at night, when you can see the moon and stars really clearly.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK?

The vision, determination and ethic is infectious.

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life?

My boy being born.

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Helen Mirren, National Treasure

Bradley Wiggins, inspirational, and a real story to tell.

Michael McIntyre, Hilarious

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A fireman, now I want to a kid again 😊

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

A Blue Whale, the biggest personality out there, and the entire ocean to explore.

What is your favourite movie?

A few Good Men.

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK?

Great decision.

 

 

Meet the Team – Henry

Name: Henry Gash

Position: Operations Officer

Start Date: 15th July 2019

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

I chose the photo because it was from an amazing family holiday.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK?

The friendly Atmosphere

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life?

Learning to backflip

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Frank Lampard, the current Chelsea manager, all-time Chelsea top goal scorer and Legend

Didier Drogba, who won Chelsea the Champions League

Tammy Abraham, the current Chelsea top goal scorer for the season

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A vet

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

An elephant because it’s my favourite animal

What is your favourite movie?

The Inbetweeners

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK?

That it’s a great environment to work in, and that all the staff are friendly

 

 

Meet the Team – Simon

Name: Simon Leadley

Position: Director

Start Date: September 18

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

You don’t see birds with blue feet every day and it was an amazing experience saying them dive in the Galapagos Islands

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK?

The buzz from signing a new deal and the feeling you get when you have saved a customer money or made their services more efficient. Especially when they buy you gifts to say thank you.

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life?

Visiting the Galapagos Islands

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Michael Jackson to teach me how to moon walk!

Phil Collins to teach my how to play the drums!

Jamie Oliver so he can cook us a feast 😊

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A farmer

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

A lion  because they are top of the food chain

What is your favourite movie?

Legend (Cray Twins)

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK?

Great team atmosphere, you will get out what you put in.

 

 

Meet the team – Pam

Name: Pam Knight

Position: Managing Director

Start Date: February 2015

Why did you choose this background for your photo? 

It is a place for thought and tranquillity and also my favourite poem. Footprints in the sand

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK? 

The thrill of building a business from the start-up to a thriving business and the excitement of building relationships with new and existing customers while creating a future for my family.

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life? 

Obviously after the birth of my children, Flying from Vegas across to the Grand Canyon in the co-pilot seat, completely motionless in case my legs knocked against any of the controls and absolutely in awe of the magnificence and vastness of the Canyon.   Then landing in the Canyon and standing on the edge leaning over the raw cliff edge trembling at the knees.  Seeing the pure beauty of the colourful layered rocks against the clear blue sky and watching the fast flow of the Colorado River running through.  The tranquillity of the moment was a beauty in itself.

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

Steve Jobs, Peter Jones and Lord Sugar, as they are all amazing entrepreneurs who must have such a brilliant mindset.  They have all achieved so much in life and are still achieving and would have some interesting and funny stories about their journeys, so if I had the opportunity to take at least one new piece of information from the evening that I could apply to my life I would have accelerated my growth exponentially in a short space of time as well as having a fun evening.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Property Development as I have always had a passion for property and the market and I like an existing challenge with a property renovation of recreating a dated or unloved property back to its former glory or modern-day equivalent.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I would be a wolf, as they have an air of mystery to them yet intelligent at the same time and are happy on their own or with others and have the ability to fend for themselves.

What is your favourite movie? 

Pretty Women, it is my go-to feel-good film, and my absolute favourite part of the movie is:-

Shop assistant: “Hello, can I help you?”
Vivian: “I was in here yesterday; you wouldn’t wait on me.”
Shop assistant: “Oh.”
Vivian: “You people work on commission, right?”
Shop assistant: “Yeah.”
Vivian: “Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK? 

Give it your all. You will love the friendliness of the team and the drive and the passion of the business along with the opportunities

 

 

Meet the team – Ross

Name: Ross Pegram

Position: Account Manager

Start Date: 11th February 2018

Why did you choose this background for your photo?

I chose this background as travelling, exploring, being outside and seeing the bright lights. I was accepted into my first-choice university, UNLV in Las Vegas which is another reason for this background.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Flame UK? 

I enjoy that there is a friendly and positive vibe around the office which makes me work more productively. 

What is one of the best things you have experienced in your life? 

Moving to the US was a great life experience of mine, it opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and many more opportunities in life. 

If you could invite 3 celebrities over for dinner (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

Cristiano Ronaldo – I love that he works hard to be the best and won’t settle for anything less

Dwayne Johnson – Similar to Ronaldo, Dwayne Johnson is not shy of hard work. He seems like a very humble man that would be a great person to learn from.

Warren Buffet – Warren Buffet is a very simple man, he has a plan and sticks to it. I like that he is humble and will make sure he has the time to do the things for a good life, while maintaining an extremely successful business empire. 

What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was younger I wanted to be a racing driver. 

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I would be a lion because they are a loyal and caring animal. Other animals may fear them, but the lion remains humble and compassionate to those close to them.

What is your favourite movie? 

My favourite movies are the Fast and Furious movies 

What would you tell someone new starting at Flame UK? 

Be flexible, we all help each other!