High Flyers: Brian is bedding in to a whole new career

Brian McCann
Brian McCann

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Brian McCann, managing director of DFI Beds, a leading online bed and mattress retailer and manufacturer based in Co Tyrone. It recently opened its first bricks and mortar store located at the Quays shopping centre in Newry.

What was your first job?

I had a lot of unofficial jobs when I was young, from working in the moss with my uncle, selling lottery tickets for the GAA club to bagging potatoes for another uncle (who still owes me a few days’ pay), but my first proper job on the payroll would have been stacking shelves in a local supermarket.

What qualifications do you have?

I come from a finance background. Having successfully completed my degree in finance and accounting at Liverpool John Moore’s University, I relocated to Australia for a number of years where I studied my CPA exams and gained experience working for a retail company, this experience was invaluable to my career and developed my interest in retail and e-commerce which led me back to Ireland and to the role I have today.

What do you attribute your success to?

To be honest, there is no substitute for hard work, in my opinion, and that’s what I would attribute my success to. Hard work, a determination to succeed and surrounding myself with a team of like-minded individuals who are all working toward the same goal.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

I would describe myself as ambitious, optimistic and hard-working.

Who do you look up to in business?

In the local area there are a lot of very successful businessmen who have built fantastic businesses. I’ll give my friend Brendan Quinn a good mention, he has created the Uppercut Coffee Group with his first speciality coffee and food drive-thru in Coalisland. I’ve enjoyed watching his business develop and admire his attention to detail. He has created a fantastic brand that within a year has become an integral part of the local town. On a larger scale and somewhat within the industry, US businessman Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale has quite the story!

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

When it comes to hiring, I don’t believe the focus should exclusively be on experience or qualifications, a good attitude and similar values are key when trying to build a team – this applies to every section of the business. Skills can be learned, but you can’t train people to have a positive attitude and a good work ethic, which are cornerstones of an effective and successful team.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything. There are many benefits to doing business and being based in the north, it gives us fantastic access and opportunities across the entire island of Ireland. The size of the north also means that there is a strong sense of community, creating an opportunity to build long lasting working relationships with suppliers and develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

What website or app could you not do without?

Whatsapp. Whilst I generally hate being added to group chats, I must be in 10+ different chats for work. It is a great tool for quick communication with the team, and everyone uses it, so it has its merits!

What was the last book you read?

I don’t get time to read many books, but I have been listening to audiobooks. The most recent I listened to was the Longest Kill by Craig Harrison. I’m not really into war stories, but it was a really gripping story.

What car do you drive?

Mercedes GLC.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

Never an easy question, but after digging into our family tree history recently I learned that I have a cousin in the US who is a Senator!

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

It would have to be the GAA. I used to play for my local club, but I’ve been retired from playing for a few years now. I am part of the management team of a neighbouring club which is a great way to stay involved in GAA on a local level and it’s been a new challenge for me, which I am really enjoying.