Riding high... like The Duke; Interview of the week.
WHEN Alan Timothy gets off his horse it's not to drink his milk. But the number cruncher from Teesside certainly knows how to round up... figures, that is. JEZ DAVISON met him
YOU don't expect a hi-tech guru at the helm of a multi-million pound business to model himself on a risk-taking, gun-slinger.
But Alan Timothy sees plenty of similarities between himself and John Wayne - aka The Duke.
"Anyone can be a millionaire," he says. "They just have to want it badly enough."
Or, as the big man might have said: "Courage is about being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
Alan points to a baseball cap sporting the initials WWJWD. "I always ask myself: What Would John Wayne Do? Would he stand around hoping to win the lottery or make sacrifices to get what he wanted?"
Alan, 51, has had to make plenty of them to get where he is today. The founder of Middlesbrough technology firm Profile Analysis gave up valuable family time to work every fifth week in Dallas after selling his original business to a US corporation. More recently he's been masterminding the opening of a new office in North America. With another base in Germany in the pipeline and plans to boost turnover from pounds 2m to pounds 15m by the end of 2010, Alan has his hands full.
He's not too busy, though, to indulge in a spot of dude ranching with wife Karen and son Josh.
"There's nothing better than putting the cowboy hat on and riding on horseback across the plains of Colorado, Arizona and Dallas," he says. "Other than that, I'm lucky that my work is my hobby."
He makes money out of helping company bosses to understand the concepts and value behind rawstatistics.
Global players such as Sony, Nestle and Jewson have bought into technologies such as i-snapshot, a sales management tool that gives managers the visibility and insight to help improve employees who operate remotely. The data can then be used by bosses to reward the superstars and assist the slackers among their sales force.
Alan says it's not a Big Brother control mechanism, instead, he argues that it allows managers to base strategic decisions on tried and tested mathematical modelling from the 1.5m field visits they recorded in 2007.
Alan's route to the top has been anything but orthodox. After gaining three A-Levels from Eaglescliffe Community College, he studied Medical Bacteriology at Liverpool University before embarking on Ford Motor Group's graduate scheme in Essex.
In 1979 he branched into sales as a medical representative for German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer before persuading people to sign up for trials of insulin pumps at diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk.
Having gained an MBA in International Business from the Universities of Ulster and UCLA, Los Angeles, in the late 1980s he joined London think-tank Better Made in Britain.
Alan returned to his North-east roots in 1988 to help Stockton-based Crossley Builders Merchants grow from pounds 150m to pounds 220m in four years, but when the firm streamlined operations following its acquisition by Harcross, he had the unpleasant job of firing staff before getting the boot himself.
With a "golden parachute" redundancy package to cushion the blow, Alan established Profile Analysis in 1992 "as a vehicle for parking my non-executive fees" while heading up data management firmIDM, which was sold in 1997 to Dallas company Target Base "for a middling seven-figure sum."
Alan stayed on to build a pan-European data network for the company, which was sold in 2000 to advertising groupOmnicom, before establishing data management and marketing consultancy Rocket Science the following year. The latter and i-snapshot now fall under holding company Profile Analysis.
Underpinning this kaleidoscopic career path is Alan's ability to make order out of chaos. He says: "I don't know how to do anything, like turn on a printer, but I do know how to think about things. Doing your research is vital and before launching i-snapshot I bought every book from Amazon with 'sales management' in the title - and read them."
John Wayne's characters weren't famous for their forensic capacity for detail and rational thought, but they most certainly would have approved of Alan's curved ball approach to overcoming problems.
In one of Wayne's more philosophical moments, he's quoted as saying: "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
As Alan would no doubt argue, learning the lessons from yesterday's sales performance is the only way they can improve tomorrow's.
Business philosophy: Don't ask anyone to do what you wouldn't do"
Biggest gripe: The Government's attitude to business and employment legislation
Good at: Strategy, invention, seeing the bigger picture
Could improve on: Front-end stuff, including sales
TALL IN THE SADDLE: Alan Timothy, above, and his inspiration, John Wayne, left; inset is Alan's baseball cap Main picture by PETER REIMANN