You’ll know the name, now get to know the person. John Potter, managing director of MHM Direct GB, talks about motorbike racing, skiing with his sons… and not eating crisps

How did you start your career in the imprintable garments industry?
Thirty years ago I found myself working as a yarns and fibre sales technician, which gave me an in-depth understanding of fabrics and technology that has served me well throughout my career. I moved into screen printing machinery at the beginning of the nineties, selling American machinery such as the famous old Advance Centurian, a true workhorse and printer’s machine. By the mid-nineties, I had started my own business as the UK dealer for MHM Austria. For many years I have also worked as a worldwide consultant for MHM Austria, being heavily involved in all aspects, from machinery design and training to global marketing and dealer appointment.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
The relationships I have built with my suppliers and customers. I’ve won numerous sales awards and to be recognised and trusted for being good at what you do is a great compliment. But getting to understand a customer’s business, creating the right solution for them and then watching them succeed is what drives me.

Which three words would your best friends use to describe your personality?
Straight-talking, honest and funny

What’s your favourite word or phrase?
“You only live once so live every day like it’s your last.” If you see something you want, go for it, otherwise you might just spend the rest of your life thinking about it.

Salt and vinegar or cheese and onion?
Neither, I’m trying to lose weight ☺

Which tune can’t you get out of your head at the moment?
With the uncanny numbers of celebrities who have sadly passed away so far this year it has recently gone from David Bowie to Prince. You hear the tunes everywhere once something like this happens and, although very sad, it ends up driving you a little crazy!

What’s your hidden talent?
I used to competitively race motorcycles for many years and was also heavily involved in water-skiing and wakeboarding since I was 10-years-old. My brother and sister were consecutive world medallists at windsurfing, too, appearing on TV and in many major competitions. Our family was very outdoorsy and sporting, something I don’t thank my Dad for: being thrown into freezing cold water every day as a kid wearing a wetsuit that was miles too big! I suppose it made me as hardy as I am now.

What’s your greatest ambition?
To get the balance right between work and play: as you get older this becomes more important. Nobody’s lasts words were ever that they wished they’d worked harder or made more money. Spend time with the people who matter and don’t leave it until tomorrow, do it today!

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Extreme sports, motorcycle racing, paragliding, waterskiing, wakeboarding, motor racing… Basically anything dangerous excites me and makes me feel alive!

Where is the best place you’ve ever visited?
I really like parts of the US, Mexico, Europe, Dubai and Mauritius, and good old skiing in Austria. The MHM factory is minutes from many major ski resorts in the heart of the Tirol so it’s a nice thing to take advantage of with my boys, who are now beating me down the slopes.

Which gadget couldn’t you live without?
My iPhone: always on to keep in touch with anyone, anywhere, whether it be a simple phone call or a Facebook post. To re-unite with old school friends and people you haven’t seen for many years is awesome, not to mention being able to snap photographs wherever you go with kids, friends and family.


John and his boys skiing in the Tirol, Austria

John, with life-long friend Mick, has been racing motorcycles from a young age