Lawrence Jones MBE is the founder and CEO of UKFast, the largest privately-owned web hosting provider in the UK. UKFast specialises in dedicated server, cloud hosting and colocation services. Headquartered in Manchester, their wholly owned carrier-neutral data centres allow them to constantly improve resources whilst simultaneously providing clients with an award-winning standard of customer service.
Lawrence was born in Denbigh, a small town in North Wales. He once stated,
"I worked so hard to get out of Wales as a kid, and now I work to get back at every available moment."
His fondness for the area has even influenced plans for the business as UKFast now house a training centre in the heart of North Wales set in stunning surroundings at the foot of Mount Snowdon.
Growing up, Lawrence spent some time at Durham Chorister School where he studied music. This passion drew him to his first business venture, The Music Design Company when he first arrived in Manchester at the age of 16. MDC was dedicated to providing the North West with entertainment and event organizing. At its height the company had over 240 musicians on its coveted books.
The Music Design Company
A virgin to the world of business, Lawrence took a number of years to get The Music Design Company off the ground. Despite this, he nostalgically describes this time of his life with great fondness.
"It was a great learning curve and every day was an adventure. I never knew what I was doing from one day to the next. I had a reputation in the industry as a fixer. People came to me with their challenges and I'd find the best solution for them."
One particular branch of the MDC business, the importing and renting of Grand Pianos triggered the business model that now underpins UKFast.
"The monthly recurring revenue model is safe; it a llows you to plan and grow. Long after I sold MDC, the pianos were still quietly making money in the background."
This planning and growth led to Lawrence opening Manchester's principal digital recording studio. Ground-breaking entrepreneurism, however, is not Lawrence's only quality; he is an accomplished composer, songwriter, artist and all round creative to this day.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
It was during his time in the Big Apple that Lawrence became captivated by the Internet and determined it would become the focus of his next enterprise.
He created 'thegallery.com', a site that allowed artists to showcase their work online. Lawrence has since admitted that the site was not particularly successful yet the frustration he suffered when creating it prompted him to focus his entrepreneurial efforts on web hosting. Lawrence and his then girlfriend (now wife and business partner) Gail set themselves the goal of building the UK's best hosting provider. UKFast was born.
The firm's services have changed somewhat over the years, spanning mobile phones, bulk text messaging and broadband. These arms of the company were eventually sold in order for the Jones's to concentrate their efforts and become specialists in providing the servers used to host websites and databases, enabling people to run their businesses.
17 years later, the UKFast brand serves over 6,000 clients and boasts more than 500,000 domain names on its network. The firm has grown to become the UK's only managed hosting company to wholly own its data centres - with over 30,000 sq. ft. of Manchester data centres space to boot. This pioneering innovation teamed with the second to none service provided by a 300 strong team has resulted in an awards cabinet fit to burst and over 40 million turnover.
UKFast continues to gain commercial recognition by winning numerous prestigious awards. Lawrence has previously been named Ernst & Young's 'Tech Entrepreneur of the Year' but maintains that the awards which mean the most to him are those which acknowledge UKFast as a great place to work. 'Employer of the year' by the 2013 National Business Awards and has been mentioned on Best Workplaces 'Great places to work', list for 4 years running.
Lawrence was awarded an MBE for Services to the Digital Economy in the 2015 New Year's Honours List, a momentous achievement for a proud Brit.
One of the largest turning points in Lawrence's personal life occurred following an avalanche accident from which he had to be resuscitated, after spending eight minutes trapped under the snow. Realising he still had so much yet to achieve, Lawrence drastically changed his attitude to life, focussing on always putting people at the centre of everything.
This has become the driving force for many of Lawrence's decisions within UKFast, a business which prides itself on supporting people. Lawrence spent much of 2013 renovating the company's new offices, with the vision to build an ideal workplace for all of his team. He also is dedicated to developing and rewarding his employees by taking new recruits to the company's dedicated training facility in Wales, and top performing team members on ski trips to Switzerland. The UKFast team often celebrate the results of their hard work.
When not working, Lawrence is a keen squash player, playing at a semi-professional level. Adhering to an intense daily training schedule, Lawrence is a firm believer that a healthy physical state is conducive to a healthy mind and successful business career. Similarly, Lawrence's competitive personality is reflected in his love of chess, from which he draws many comparisons to real-life business scenarios.
Happily married to his business partner Gail, Lawrence is also father to four young daughters: Tegan, Poppy, Coco and Summer.