It is very easy to become cynical in this game. Business journalism can be a bit of a fool’s errand at times, with dodgy cul de sacs and metaphorical minefields lurking around every corner.
PR practitioners have long since hoovered up a generous slice of the corporate publicity landscape, and their interpretation of what passes for news in the all-embracing digital era may not have been shared by Citizen Kane or Woodward and Bernstein.
I’ve lost count of the number of companies that are apparently ‘bucking the trend’ post-recession or the astonishing amount of ‘iconic’ developments currently underway, whatever such a meaningless adjective means. Then, there’s a whole pile of ‘flagship’ projects, ‘landmark’ refurbishments and ‘ground-breaking’ innovations to consider.
But, amidst all the transparently commercial press releases and blatant product plugs out there in ever-smiley PR land, there’s the occasional genuine story to savour.
The saga of Burntwood-based RGK is one such. The firm makes bespoke wheelchairs, exporting to dozens of countries. It supplied the Paralympic basketball team for London 2012 and has won an order with the Paralympic Federation in Iraq.
It boasts a £3 million turnover, with a workforce of 44 based at an industrial estate in Burntwood.
So far, so good, but it’s the extraordinary history of this firm which makes it stand out from the crowd.
RGK was set up 25 years ago by two young West Midlanders who had been left paralysed following terrible road accidents.
Russel Simms and Greg Eden faced lifetimes in wheelchairs – and turned that sombre fate into a business idea that has become a market-leading concern with a global reach.
Russel and Greg have not only transformed their own lives from grim circumstances, they have created a successful niche company from nothing, which now provides livelihoods for dozens of workers.
It’s a genuinely heartwarming saga, living proof that talent can only go so far, and that willpower and determination are often the key attributes needed for any successful business venture.
* Jon Griffin is the Midland columnist of the year