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Meet Sal & John our Team Lakes management team

Sal & John

We regularly introduce our new engineers but we’ve never focused on our management team! 

So as they celebrate 20 years of being a couple this month, we sat down with Sal Martin (Manager) and John Perkin (Assistant & Service Manager) to discover how they ended up working together at Lakes Catering and whether they just talk about maintenance and installations 24 hours a day!

Tell us a little about yourself . . .

SAL: I’m 51 and have been in this ‘industry’ for almost 20 years starting at a fabrication company. I have a pet ferret, Tez who often comes to work with me. I like eating John’s cooking, watching survival and monster films, crosswords, and drawing.

JOHN: 55 years young and my good lady is defo punching above her weight! Even given the four year age gap (joke) I have had a wonderful life with my late Dad in our building company for 30+ years. I love seafood and cooking.

How long have you been working at LCM?

SAL: this October will make it 9 years! I originally started as an Assistant to our owner and founder Leigh Howard and moved up to manage the business when we tragically lost Leigh two years ago. 

JOHN: This is a tricky one… I have had the privilege of being great friends of the late Leigh Howard, so over the past 9 years I’ve always assisted on large installations with some building works where required. I am the broomstick in the corner, a constant, and have been here full-time since we lost Leigh. 

What’s a typical day at work for you?

SAL: Each day is completely unpredictable and I always look forward to seeing what the day ahead brings. There are always challenges, high points, and low points, mainly getting jobs turned around, communication with the end user, daily admin, and bookkeeping. I tend to do just about everything (apart from emptying the bins, that’s John’s job)!

JOHN: Well, Sal decided to buy a lovely classic car and now regrets the fact she would rather be driven to and from work to avoid adding any more mileage. Personally, I think it’s so she can win Yahtzee games and complete Wordle myself, so a typical day is often being talked into being a taxi driver! Seriously we tend to get our jobs ahead of the day and Sal will keep some flexibility in the diary for any urgent call-outs or last-minute one-off installations. The team tends to have a relaxed working environment but ultimately we always get the job done and done well.

How do you find working together? How have you adapted from being partners to colleagues?

SAL: We have always discussed ‘work’ anyway when we were not working together but now as we both have a vested interest in the business we can get a little heated due to our commitment and passion, to be honest! It’s often sorted but we never go to bed on an argument – that said there are very few instances where we do get very heated!

JOHN: We are still both, partners and colleagues.  We both have such a hunger for the roles we have here we just get on with it and have to say we make a great team (I know some other couples could NEVER work together but we do allow each other space and our own ‘me time’ where possible) The fact I think she resembles Pat Benatar keeps me on my toes but she has a Sigourney Weaver attribute going on too – she never backs down in a crisis and takes no s’’’t off anyone!

Who is the ideas person, and who’s the organiser?

SAL: We often take each of these roles on, and simply bounce along, usually fine-tuning each other’s decisions and all important input when organising anything really. I tend to do both then John embellishes both if that makes sense (and makes them happen with the least stress as possible).

JOHN: Easy – Sal does both! I chip in mainly to advise and ensure things run as smoothly as possible with a combination of knowledge – I know the sites, she knows the kit so it’s a meld of both coming together and it works. She’s forever teaching me why she specified that product or that way of working it etc and it always makes sense.

Do you end up talking about work all the time? 

SAL: What do you think?!

JOHN: Never, I am always at the gym or Pilates. If not I will be walking Tez our ferret or reading a paper… not!

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

SAL: At my age it’s the early mornings that kill me not the job or workload believe it or not!  Workwise though the biggest challenge is not knowing what you will have on your plate each day.

JOHN: Getting to a site to be given a really bad coffee! No, seriously, it’s all about the first time fix. Each call out can have its challenges and we endeavour to keep the equipment running as it’s so integral to our customer’s operation. Sometimes as my background is completely different to this job I can transfer a lot over to various tasks such as electrics, plumbing, minor building works, and site surveying (properly) for a top notch install which goes well if the groundwork is sorted first.

What are you most excited by within the business – both now and in the future?

SAL: The variation alone in the role makes it exciting and most days really do not feel as though it’s a ‘job’.  I like to push new products, always learning about the kit I already sell and then the lads tell me I should be out on the road already diagnosing people’s faults (admit this has cut down unnecessary call outs several times, oops!)

JOHN: Definitely the new fragrance hand wash Sal bought the other day….
The new staff we now have are the way forward and I am thoroughly enjoying mentoring & training them to be the best.  This is all about customer focus, the way they present themselves, and communication, not just about fault diagnosing.  The exciting part is they are so keen and taking it all on board so I am really proud about that alone and glad Sal left me to it!

Within your role what are you most proud about?

SAL: Where I have come from really. I maintain I helped build the business to where it is now joining Leigh when the company was so young and quiet! We rebranded and never looked back. I am furthermore proud due to Leigh’s wife and her uncle for believing in me to take up the role of manager. Their trust and faith have allowed me and the team to push the business forward and to progress with the times. I admit I have never been in a management role until now, but John said I am the best manager he has ever come across (wonder what he is after?!)

JOHN: ‘Turning up to work’ – I can’t believe I said that but yeah!
Installing VERY expensive equipment that works for the customer. Always the first time fix, I know I keep going on about it but the buzz you get when on site and the customer is overjoyed with the outcome. Personally, I am extremely proud of how much I have learned repairing all sorts!

Can you share something your colleagues won’t know about you?

SAL: I held the title of ladies’ British Subbuteo football champion 5 years running between 1992 and 1997. I’m fascinated by true crime stories and love bird watching. Oh, and John is the world’s worst procrastinator! 

JOHN: hmmm how far does this go – too much to mention really! I only cross-dress at Xmas or weddings, I killed 4 frogs at school by accident and found a sock belonging to William Shatner in my hotel room once….



Unit 4 Moss End Business Village,




Tel: 01539 724506 | Fax: 01539 724055


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