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Running a business is like riding a roller-coaster

Colin Porter is the Director at Armada House Conference & Events. In the lead up to our 10th Anniversary on the 24th June we managed to catch him for a chat on reaching 10 years of business

How long have you been the director of the company?

Ten years

What did you do before directing Armada House and what inspired you to start a conference and events venue?

I worked as a sales manager in academic book printing. I had enjoyed over twenty years in print sales but I could see that the industry in the UK was shrinking, in 2006 there were around 24 specialist book printers in the UK now only a handful are left, so I decided to change direction.

Having been in a customer service environment for most of my career I felt I could deliver good customer service to a different sector.  I like the process of making decisions and had been always happy to take accept responsibility for my own actions. Owning and running a business felt like a logical step so with my partner Alison we looked for a service sector business to buy and Armada House fitted the bill perfectly.

Do you feel that 10 years of business is quite a success?

It’s often hard to quantify success it depends what measures you use. However 10 years is a significant landmark whichever way you look at it and if you throw into that period one of the worst global recessions in history I think where we are now is a huge success.

Can you name a high and a low of the past 10 years of business?

Where do you start, running any business is like riding a roller-coaster so it’s tough to name a specific memory? Every time we get a “thank you” or a great review it still gives me a great high. Lows would be when someone leaves our team we are such a close family, fortunately it doesn’t happen very often.

What’s your favourite thing about running a business (or specifically Armada House) on a day to day basis?

Working with a great team and getting great feedback from clients.

As a local and independent company, how is business in Bristol? 

We love being part of the Bristol community, being independent and the only dedicated conference and events venue in the centre is important to how we feel and think about business. Most of our suppliers for instance are Bristol independents too and things like that matter to us.

Competition in the city centre is pretty strong, but I feel we offer something different to the competition and that we reflect Bristol’s diversity. The economy in Bristol is good and it’s currently one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. All in all it’s a good place to be. 

Do you have any business mantras that you would like to share?

Take a walk in someone else’s shoes every day. 

What are your plans for Armada House for the future?

To continue to improve and refine what we offer by listening to the needs of our clients and looking at new technology to enhance events and meetings.

What can we expect from the Armada House 10th Anniversary Party?

We wanted to share this milestone with the people who have helped us, our clients, our suppliers, staff old and new, friends and family. It’s a ‘drop in’ event so even if someone can only make it for half an hour they can still enjoy it. We have wonderful food from our head chef Chris, beer tasting from Bath Ales, wine tasting with Avery’s, fabulous entertainment from magician Adam Richards, singer and saxophone player Bev Gough, music and MC from ‘Big Mike’ at Discos for Hire and plenty of drinks available from the bar.

What’s your favourite music track from the last decade?

As I’m of a certain age most of my favourite music belongs in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s but there are some great current artists too. I think Adele is terrific, I have a lot of her stuff on my phone, so if I had to pick one I’d go for ‘Set Fire to The Rain’


Book your free ticket for our 10th Anniversary Open Day 24th June 2016:

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  • "Your venue is charming and with such a good team I do wish you every success for the future. The next time we organise such an event we will certainly be in touch."
    - Justin Ryan, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • "Thank you for a fantastic evening on Saturday for our end of season awards evening. The food was absolutely delicious and the wine was also spot on! "
    - Firebrands Hockey Club
  • "Your team were very attentive and did a fantastic job- thank you!"
    - Vanessa Freund, McKinsey and Company
  • "We had a lovely time and the food was excellent. "
    - Debbie Burunou
  • "Thank you - it was a great event, the staff, venue and food were excellent. "
    - Thomas Dewey- Ovation
  • "The Armada House team were fantastic. They were great at facilitating us, and made the experience stress-free and smooth. From the warm welcome, to the very delicious catering, everything was thought of and no request was too much"
    - Fran - Talking Money
  • ""With its central location, beautiful building and friendly and professional staff, Armada House is the perfect venue for your event." "
    - Mel Hackett, University of London
  • ""Thank you all for a fantastic day... You were tremendously helpful and flexible over all the arrangements and everything went according to plan. The (organic) food and wine was delicious and everyone commented on the surroundings .Thank you all again for your help." "
    - Bee West, Green Books (Green, environmental and cultural publisher)