#SpotlightOn Andy Smith of Andy’s Shoesmiths 14 Oct 2020
It’s been said that boxers make great entrepreneurs and Andy Smith is no exception.
Aged 11, Andy took part in his first boxing competition and by the time he was 16, he was a British title holder. His determined and focused attitude combined with his passion to suceed saw him winning in business too, opening his first shoe repair business in 1990, aged 21.
Today, he is the proud owner of two successful businesses – his original shoe repair, trophy and key-cutting shop in The Maltings and his Boxing Gym in Hemel Hempstead.
As he celebrates 30 years in business, we caught up with Andy to find out more about being a championship boxer, meeting legends including Nigel Benn and Mike Tyson, being a professional trainer and how he has married his boxing and business skills to drive success.
You’re not originally from St Albans. What is your affiliation with the City?
I am Bovington born and bred and boxed for Hemel from age 6 but when I turned 15, I moved to St Albans boxing club run by Sean and John Murphy. One year later, I became British Champion. I loved St Albans – the people, the place – and when I stopped competitive boxing, I decided it would be a great place to set up a business.
What was the inspiration for your busines?
I was still boxing and had a job working for high street shoe repair chain. I spotted a niche in the market for a more personalised service that would suit the wonderful people of St Albans who appreciate good service and high quality. So, I took a small unit just by the Maltings Car Park. My dad died 10 weeks after I opened the shop. It was a tough time because he was my idle, guru and best friend. I went back to boxing after a year and used my dad’s memory as a driving force both in boxing and business. In 2000 the business had grown enough for us to take on bigger premises and we’ve continued to go from strength-to-strength.
What are your most popular services today?
I’m always looking to the future and investing in new machinery to offer something new to people. When I first started, it was all about shoe repairs but today it’s our printing services along with engraving and watch repairs. Key cutting is increasingly popular, especially for electronic car keys.
What was the driving force behind your new Gym?
Boxing will always be a part of my life and I’ve held my professional trainers license for over 20 years. Yes, it’s a great way to keep physically fit, but it’s also great for mental wellbeing. I’ve trained many people over the years, including some football teams, helping players with strength and conditioning work plus giving them a fighting attitude and determination. I trained QPR players when Ian Holloway and Gareth Ainsworth (who is now the manager at Wycombe) were there and the Watford team at the time when Sean Dyche (now manager at Burnley) was a player. I also work with local teams too, the teams at Hemel, Kings Langley, Bovingdon and Chipperfield.
I decided to open the gym last year as I wanted a place where men, women and children of all levels can train and benefit by in terms of physical and mental well-being – which has never been more important during these strange times.
You have met some legends!
I’m incredibly grateful to have had such positive life experiences and have met some talented people.
This is me with Mike Tyson, who I met when I boxed in Las Vegas representing London v Las Vegas. I won my fight, beating one of their hot prospects. I was team captain due to my experience. It was my last amateur fight. The following year I went as a coach with the London team. That’s when I started coaching boxers properly.
I know Steve Collins well. He’s local and I’ve trained with him and had him on the pads. He brings his riding boots as he has a Polo club and I met Vinny Jones at one of his polo matches. He was a good laugh – said I looked like a boxer.
What are your plans for the next 30 years?
The gym has been going a year now and we are focusing on making it bigger and better. In our Shop, we will continue to invest in machinery so we can meet the needs of the wonderful people of St Albans, who we are grateful to and hope to serve for many more years to come.
My main goal is to encourage everyone to revive their favourite pair of shoes instead of throwing them away, it’s so wasteful. Shoes worth wearing are worth repairing!
To celebrate their milestone anniversary, Andy Shoesmiths are offering 30% off shoe repairs until the 30th October 2020.
www.andyshoesmiths.co.uk 01727 844525