The Ribble Valley firm wheeling and dealing in the high-stakes world of sports management

Taylor Walsh, the founder of management and consultancy firm VMP International, calls the industry 'cut-throat'.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 7:00 am
Taylor Walsh and Sir Jackie Stewart at the Silverstone Classic 2019

Based in the Ribble Valley in the village of Langho near Whalley, VMP does everything from designing websites to bespoke sports photography and works across four main categories: brand management, representation, marketing and design, and sponsorship. Modelling his business style on former Australian golfer and highly-successful entrepreneur Greg Norman, Taylor is dead-set on making VMP the go-to for all things management.

Having worked as a business consultant in Lancaster, long-term motorsport enthusiast Taylor enrolled on the motorsport management and logistics course at Myerscough College in 2017. Keen to get his foot in the door in any way he could, he wasted no time when a lecturer gave him the phone number of a team owner in the industry.

"I rang him and, while he said he didn't have a position for me, he asked if I did marketing," says Taylor, 26. "I had no idea about marketing, but I just said 'yes, I can do that' and he hired me for the year. I bought a camera off eBay for £125 and started freelancing doing his social media and press releases, which was great, and - at the end of the year - I set up VMP.

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Taylor Walsh at Goodwood 77 Members Meeting

"I wouldn't be where I am without him."

Formerly Valley Motorsport Promotions Ltd before a re-brand in order to allow Taylor to expand the company's horizons beyond just motorsports, VMP International works with the likes of 2019 National Rookie Champion Morgan Quinn Racing and Clitheroe Golf Club whilst working on collaborations with the likes of world-expert race car engineers Snetterton Speed Shop.

"It's an interesting industry; I don't have a marketing background, so I look at things differently," says Taylor, from Preston. "One of the ways that VMP has always gone about things is being honest with clients; we're not there to sell people a load of BS. I thrive off the journey of a company, which is horribly clichéd.

"Reputation is everything," he adds. "It's cut-throat out there, so if I can have the reputation of being honest and being able to hold my head up high as opposed to getting in, billing hours, and getting out, then that makes us somewhat infallible."

Morgan Quinn Racing taking honours in Northern Ireland

Believing that the world of sports - where 'you're hired on a handshake and fired with being something thrown at you' as he says - has prepared him well when it comes to coping with the rigours of business, Taylor continues: "I enjoy the high stakes and that's why business appeals to me because you live and die by what you do.

"You're only as good as your last race or your last client, so build the reputation and the rest will follow."

Proud of his company's Ribble Valley roots, Taylor - who runs the company as its only full-time employee with the help of contractors - says that he not only works to a five year personal plan but a 10-year-business plan and constantly asking himself how he can ensure that VMP is still a viable and thriving business in half-a-century's time.

"During coronavirus, budgets have been tight, but my favourite saying is 'there's always a solution to a problem'," says Taylor, who hopes to have three to five full-time staff by Autumn 2022. "I emailed my clients and told them we'd continue their marketing in lockdown and that they had a much longer notice period for payment, which allowed them some breathing room. I trusted them and they trusted me; it's about the long game.

"Being a business owner has been a really mixed emotional journey; when you start, you're full of energy and you know what you want the company to be, but it's a roller-coaster," adds Taylor. "I've learned an awful lot and it's given me a hard edge. It's about evolving. If you stand still, you die."