West Ham, Everton, Leicester, Bury St Edmunds. Upton Park, Goodison Park, Filbert Street, Lamdin Road.

What have they all got in common? I’ll tell you. They’ve all been graced by the talented, hardworking and downright thoroughly decent England footballing legend that is Tony Cottee.

OK, so he may have spent a bit more time at more of those places than one in particular. But thanks to Tony’s visit this week, he can definitely say he’s spent time in Bury St Edmunds. And with Team KNP!

What’s Tony Cottee got to do with KNP?

Well, along with being a Hammers hero who’s welcome here anytime (there’s no bias, we just love him and he can do no wrong!), we’re always looking at ways to help our team grow, develop and acquire new skills. And being able to hear from and learn from someone who’s been successful at the highest level of the most high-profile and pressurised team sport there is was a great opportunity everyone could benefit from.

The day began with Tony meeting the squad whilst looking round all 28,000 sq.ft of our ‘home ground’ and being shown the different stages and kit involved in the print production process. What made this so great was Tony seeing what’s involved. Believe it or not, he was genuinely interested and asked us lots of questions we weren’t expecting! He was particularly interested in how much we’ve done to become a more sustainable business. And how that runs through everything we do. From the solar panels that power our entire building, the vegetable based inks we use and the FSC paper sourced from responsibly managed forests to how much of what we use is recycled and our work with the Woodland Trust planting trees and removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Learning from a legend

After a corporate hospitality lunch (there wasn’t a prawn sandwich in site), Tony stood in-front of the team and took part in a Q&A. What was brilliant and really classy was seeing how he’d quickly taken on-board all the newly acquired knowledge from the morning tour. His answers were clear, constructuve and insightful, but what really ensured they hit home we’re the comparisons he drew on between the inter-dependency and essential need for teamwork and trust evident in what we do, and the critical need for all of these attributes to achieve success in football.

What makes a successful team?

When discussing teamwork, Tony picked out examples of how print passes through different stages or processes. Like play moves from back to front during a game of football. And how the best teams work hard day in day out to ensure everyone understands their role, how each is as important as the next, and how each needs to perform at it’s best constantly to win.

He also spoke about the need for everyone pulling in the same direction and helping each other out. And how culture set from the top of the organisation influences this. A team working in a positive, encouraging culture with a clear direction and ambition is happier and more motivated.

He offered some gems from one or two of his managers and teammates, but I think they’ll remain private!

The stories and examples he shared, when compared to what we do day in day out was illuminating. And the team really engaged with it. There was a huge amount of interaction from the KNPers and you could see just how much they got out learning from a legend.

KNP | Tony Cottee with Adam CutbushWhen it came to the staff, nothing was too much trouble for Tony. He was articulate, professional, welcoming, insightful and courteous. Everything we hoped for and more. Here he is with Warehouse manager Adam Cutbush.

Going back to the beginning of this article, I described Tony as ‘talented, hardworking and thoroughly decent’. Exactly the traits we look for in our team to ensure our customers get the best possible experience.

Oh, and he 100% remains a Hammers hero.

A heartfelt thanks Tony. From all at KNP.