Posted 18 October 2004Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, has taken the unusual step of bestowing a Fellowship of the College onto one of its most tireless supporters, former student, Paul Singleton.
Successful businessman Paul, of Matlock, Derbyshire, was presented with the Fellowship at the university college’s annual graduation last month.
Professor Wynne Jones, Harper Adams Principal, told the assembled students, staff, families and well-wishers: “The award of a Fellowship of the College is the highest honour that can be bestowed on an individual who has provided support and service to this institution. The award is made on the approval of the College’s Academic Board and Board of Governors.
“In the case of this award, the decision was straightforward. Paul Singleton has, for many years, been a tireless supporter of the College and its work.”
Paul gained a passion for farming during summer holidays spend on the farm of a distant cousin in South Yorkshire. After leaving school at 15 to work on a farm he studied by day release and night school to earn a Science GCE and two City & Guilds agricultural qualifications. He later attended Harper Adams, from 1963 to 1965, when he was awarded a College Diploma and National Diploma in Agriculture.
After a short period working on a farm, he joined Fisons Pest Control, where he rose from Trainee to Regional Manager over the next 15 years. In 1980 Fisons and Boots merged their agricultural chemical and animal health businesses, which meant that Paul had to bring two disparate cultures together - not an easy task, as those involved in mergers will testify. Paul became UK Sales Manager for the new FBC Company, which was later sold to Schering, a German Pharmaceutical company. He remained as UK Sales Manager, and then Commercial Director for another 10 years. During that time he learned a new skill – that of selling products both through distributors and to farmers directly, facing another challenge of maintaining trust, and business, with both groups. The dual approach was successful in that over that 10 year period, the business grew from a turnover of £35m to £65m per year.
In 1994, Paul initiated, formed and became the Managing Director of Profarma, a post he was to hold for the next seven years. Under his guidance, the company, which distributed agrochemicals and seeds to British farmers, grew from a turnover of £22m to £45m, in a period when the market declined by some 20 per cent.