A badminton career-ending injury at the age of 21 would have been the downfall of many people, but one Telford businessman has gone on to great things off the court – and even made a return to the sport years later.
Adrian Casey started out his life as a star player, gaining 36 caps for England before a torn tendon in his knee put paid to his sporting aspirations.
But thankfully, he’d already started putting his business brain to use – and it is this which he turned his focus to.
At the age of 13, he’d begun restringing racquets for fellow players after borrowing money from his dad to set up the business. He’d eventually won the contract to restring all Donnay tennis racquets, earning up to £60 a day with a profit of £1 a racquet.
After taking a job with Copyright then being poached by Konica – where he was the youngest UK account executive at the time – he handed in his notice to set up his own business.
His first sale was made sat on top of a milk crate in a friend’s garage, but he used the money to buy a desk and a chair and things have been on the up ever since.
Mr Casey said: “In business you have to start somewhere and from a young age I had the determination and drive to succeed whether it was from restringing racquets or sitting on top of a milk crate making sales calls.
“Nothing was handed to me and I had to work hard to get to where I am today, there were times when it was tough but that will happen when you’re trying to set up and run your own business.”
He set himself up under Copyright South, hired an engineer and later merged with Universal Copiers – working for four months unpaid to pay back an Inland Revenue debt caused by another employee committing fraud, deception and theft.
“That was a tough time especially not being able to take a wage for four months, but you keep going because you know that at some point things will turn around.”
In 1998, his business became Unique Copiers – which is still running today based at St George’s in Telford.
But Adrian isn’t the only business brain in the family, his wife Nicki runs Casey’s Venues which actually began at their wedding.
Adrian had bought a mobile bar from eBay which they used on the day – having also cooked the food and made their wedding cake himself.
This sparked an idea and he went on to design and handmake the company’s first bar himself within the home they were renting at the time.
“When I built that bar I did it in the house that we were living in at the time, I had to get up in the early hours of the morning to add another coat of paint to it so that it would be ready for an event at West Midlands Safari Park,” Mr Casey said.
The company still hires out its 10 mobile bars now as well as offering a National Award winning entertainment venue at Cordingley Hall. In fact it has been so successful, Casey’s was named as the best mobile bar service in the UK by TV’s Kirstie Allsopp.
Somehow, Adrian also found time to return to the court – perhaps inevitable as sport is in his blood: his dad played badminton for Ireland and his granddad represented the national in three sports.
“I wanted to push myself and see if I could still compete at the highest level as its a sport that I have enjoyed greatly over the years and one which has been extremely rewarding.”
After ten years away from the game, Adrian was paired up with former world champion Simon Archer for his return – with highlights including playing doubles with Tony Cole and getting to Number 5 in Great Britain.
Adrian finally retired from the game at the age of 37 after getting through numerous rounds in the World Championships at Birmingham’s NIA arena- but has no intention of stepping out of the business game any time soon.