BORN in Malaysia, where his father was doing national service, John Heard was raised in Leicestershire.
He was offered a place at Warwick University but was swayed by the construction industry to get a job.
He explains: 'My father was a plumber and part of what drew me to turn down university was actually going out to work.' In 1972, Mr Heard joined accountancy firm Cooper Brothers to train as an accountant and stayed five years before a fall-out prompted h im to quit. He adds: 'I was supposed to be going to Nassau in the Bahamas and it was all going hunky dory and I had even let out my house when they started to back-track. Being headstrong, I told them to stuff it.' He left Cooper Brothers ? which was eventually to put the 'C' into accounting giant PwC ? and joined the staff at one of his former clients, text iles f irm Corah, and stayed seven years.
In 1988 he lef t to join Sol Const ruct ion, only for text iles rival Courtaulds to offer him a job.
'That job would have involved a lot of travelling but I had young kids I just didn't want that, ' he says. 'So I went to Sol and thought I'd stay for a few years.' And, after 17 years, he and two other directors now own the business.