Entrepreneur of the Year entrant – Adam Whitehouse
Adam Whitehouse has gone from owning one shop in Longton to having a multi-million-pound business with 144 staff and a projected turnover of more than £19million in 2023.
His entrepreneurial success story also includes sustainable and eco-friendly innovation, a commitment to addressing a skills gap and ambitions for his business, TMT First, to become an approved partner for Google and Apple.
Adam founded The Mobile Trader, a shop in Longton where he bought phones from consumers then repaired, refurbished and reset them before selling them on. That business grew to a chain of five and TMT First was born.
In the early 2000s Adam spotted an opportunity to configure large volumes of mobile devices for an international distributor based in Crewe. Under Adam’s leadership that was a springboard to the multi-million pounds enterprise TMT First has become.
It now operates from a 43,000 square foot premises in Newcastle-under-Lyme and manages more than 200,000 products each year.
Success hasn’t come without obstacles, personal sacrifice and risk taking along the way to keep the business going.
At one point in the company’s history up to 80% of its work came from one global insurance business and overnight they made the decision to take the work from TMT and manage their devices in-house instead. This left TMT with the majority of its business lost, staff numbers had to be stripped back from over 80 to 26 and Adam decided they needed to pivot quickly if the business was to survive.
He made a direct approach to Samsung and told them he wanted TMT to partner with them to repair their range of mobile devices – that tenacity led to their first dedicated Samsung retail space in Hanley (with just four technicians) and gave Adam the chance to prove they could work with Samsung at pace and at a much larger scale.
In six years the operation has grown massively. TMT are one of Samsung’s biggest approved partners in the UK, repairing the full range of mobile devices including phones, tablets, laptops and smartwatches – around 4,000 come into the business each month directly from individual end users.
The trust Samsung has in Adam has continued to pay off. During Covid when businesses across the world were facing huge challenges – Samsung, like most high street retailers, was forced to close its retail outlets which left customers with nowhere to go to get devices fixed. Adam stepped in and told Samsung that TMT could take on all of that repair service work. Within 48 hours, under Adam’s leadership, the behind-the-scenes processes had been put in place to make it all possible, a website was built and delivery and device return mechanisms were established – with all consumer Samsung repairs coming directly to TMT. That service remains in place today as Samsung never reopened its independent retail spaces.
In 2023 Adam launched TMT’s Samsung Training Academy to address a skills shortage for phone repair technicians. Over the last three years the academy has provided regular cohorts of a four-week intense training scheme in which future technicians are trained and on completion receive a Samsung-authorised accreditation plus a guaranteed job. So far nearly 60 new jobs have been created.
Adam has also been lobbying for the creation of a Digital Device Repair Technician Apprenticeship to ensure a pipeline of trained technicians to support the industry in the future.
Adam’s mantra for TMT First is: Keeping Technology Alive For Longer, and sustainability and innovation are integral to achieving that.
He’s been working with Keele University to find more cost-effective ways of repairing and processing mobile phone screens and batteries. This and other initiatives will enable TMT to extend the life of an additional 100,000 mobile devices every year.
Adam said: “From one shop in Longton to a multi-million-pound company, I continue to have huge aspirations for the future. I want TMT to be approved partners for Google and Apple and those initial conversations are already underway, which will take the business to the next level.”
Adam has entered the Entrepreneur of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.