Mersey window firm boss… ‘my baptism of fire’

In the latest Downtown in Business podcast Greg Johnson, MD of Bootle window and door manufacturer Warwick North West talks about his ‘baptism of fire’ after taking the helm suddenly in 2021. Tony McDonough reports

Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson, managing director of Warwick North West in Bootle


Warwick North West managing director Greg Johnson has opened up about the mental challenge of taking on the family business when his dad suddenly took ill in late 2021.

Talking to Frank McKenna for the latest Downtown in Business podcast, Greg said his planned elevation to head up the family business was originally meant to be a gradual one – but that plan quickly went awry at the end of 2021.

A specialist window and door manufacturer, Bootle-based Warwick North West was launched by Greg’s uncle, Gavin Johnson, in 1998 and later taken over by his father Brian Johnson in 2008.

Greg joined as a trainee in 2007 after his A Levels when the prospect of university seemed unappealing. As soon as he made that decision his dad said to him: “Tomorrow you are joining the family business and there will be no special treatment.”

For the next decade and a half, Greg worked in pretty much every department, learning the ropes. To him dad Brian seemed almost indestructible – he had steered Warwick through the global financial crisis.

However, in December 2021 Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to step down as MD with immediate effect. Greg explained: “He had to leave the business quite suddenly. 

“It was a big step up and it was a very difficult period. I had never suffered from mental health before. There were so many elements of that. There was my dad’s diagnosis and coming to terms with that as his son, and the pressure of taking on the family business.

“All of a sudden there are 120 staff, and their families, relying on the decisions you make.

“For the first time in my life I felt very alone and isolated. When I pulled up in the car park every morning it was very mentally taxing. We had just had two little girls at the same time and the lack of sleep. All of that at the same time was very difficult – a baptism of fire.”

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He also talked about Warwick’s wider ambitions, adding: “We want to be profitable and we want to make money. But we want to use our platform to make a difference.

“25 years of loyalty from the city region, from contractors, tradespeople and developers who have been loyal to us. If we can give back to the city region then that is what I would like to do. We are a good company and we try to do business in the right way.”

Click here to listen to the full interview on the Downtown in Business podcast.

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