WHILE Paul Hines is a leading BriSCA F1 stock car driver, there is another side to his involvement in the sport that goes relatively unnoticed unless you take a closer look.
Hines runs a very successful business, Progress Windows, based in Hinckley, Leicestershire, specialising in a wide range of PVCu windows, doors, conservatories and fascias.
At Northampton International, the race control windows are Progress Windows, and the same will be true of the new development at Rob Speak’s Skegness Stadium. Coventry Stadium, now sadly closed for stock car racing, was also fitted with windows from Hines’ company.
And the 36-year-old is quick to point out that the business he has made with these venues would not have happened without racing an F1 stock car supported and liveried by Progress Windows.
“The advertising I put on the car definitely brings me work in,” says Hines. “We’ve recently signed up for some PVC gates we’ve done for a gentleman in Melton Mowbray who’s a Rebel racer.
As a percentage, between 11-12% of my business is based on stock car racing work
“I would have never of got that if I wasn’t racing in stock cars. The link between the advertising and the business gives definite, tangible results.”
The figures are significant.
“As a percentage, between 11-12% of my business is based on stock car racing work,” he reveals.
Hines’ business acumen stems from his education. He left Nottingham University in 2001 with a 2:1 BA Honours Degree in Business and initially intended to go off and make his own mark on the world.
Father Derek, who ran the successful family business B Warm Windows, had other ideas and persuaded his son to work alongside him.
While working for his father’s business, Hines believed developing a new windows company was the way forward, and decided to set up his own, Progress Windows, in 2008.
“I just felt that, while B Warm was a brilliant company, it was quite old-fashioned in the way it went about its day-to-day business and the people involved were also quite old-fashioned,” explains Hines. “I had a different way of doing things.
“It was just modernisation really – new advertising techniques, new branding, new ways of thinking – hence the name Progress. I didn’t want us to stand still – I wanted to make sure we progressed.”
And progress it did.
In 2014 Hines won the EMEA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his forward-thinking ideas. It was a prestigious national accolade and one he is justifiably very proud of.
“I was one of six people nominated at the ceremony held in Brighton,” Hines says. “I didn’t expect to win, but they noted how we went about running a double-glazing company.
“Double glazing will always be a spit and sawdust-type of industry but we try and buck that sort of trend.
“We have an online pricing engine, an online review system and we were the first to have Facebook and Twitter pages. Obviously, people eventually catch up with you, but we’ve always been pretty innovative in terms of the things we do.”
Looking ahead, Hines is planning to extend his business further afield.
“I have a fairly broad plan,” he says. “I have a five-year plan, a three-year plan, a 12-month plan and a 90-day plan within that. I enjoy looking at how that is going to work.
“In Hinckley, we have got a good business set-up and a good business model. We now feel we can box and move it to another area and, with a few tweaks, do exactly the same thing.
“A house is a house, whether it is in Hinckley, Solihull, Northampton or Leicester. And there are now lots of different areas we can now target using our prescribed business model. It would be a bit like a franchise but we’d run it ourselves.
“We created a matrix on all the towns within a 20-mile radius of Hinckley, and ranked and rated each one based on loads of different criteria – social groups, number of houses, number of new builds – and then gave them all a score.”
Hinckley, where Progress Windows is based, came 11th in a list of 22.
“That told me there are ten places better than Hinckley to do business,” says Hines. “The town that came out on top is now the one we are going to target.”
Outside of work and being a fan of Leicester City football club, F1 stock car racing is Hines’ passion.
As a family and a business, we always tried to put the money we earn back into the sport and try to keep people racing
It has been part of his life growing up and particularly so when his father became a stock car team owner at the turn of the millennium. The motivation behind the B Warm racing team was to hire drivers who were not racing back into an F1 stock car.
“My dad was one of the first team owners at the time,” Hines says. “There are a few now, Jamie Davidson being a prime example.
“As a family and a business, we always tried to put the money we earn back into the sport and try to keep people racing.”
Rob Pearce was the first ‘gun for hire’.
“Rob was a tough lad,” remembers Hines. “He was a real stock car driver. We also ran Gary Castell and Gaz Bott, before I took over. I was the last member of the racing team.”
Hines won the 2005 European Championship at Northampton in the B Warm car and followed up with his biggest victory in the sport in 2010 when he won the British Championship at Skegness in the Progress Windows car.
Nowadays, family man Hines, who is married to Simone and has a one-year-old son, Carson, has different racing goals.
I want to try and get into the shootout and the world final and go from there
“I just want to enjoy it,” he says. “I enjoy being involved around my team and taking my dad to meetings. I’m passed the stage that I need to win things, even though I still desperately want to. I want to try and get into the shootout and the world final and go from there.
“It is important to enjoy it now, as times are changing within the sport. I want to be a part of it and do my bit to make sure the sport thrives in 15-20 years time.
“I always do my best to promote the sport, so if that means I take my car to Skegness to put it on show, or take it to Autosport International at the NEC, the Hinckley Car Show or the Leicester Car Show, I’ll do it.”
For further information on Progress Windows, please go to www.progresswindows.com