“Hard work will pay off if you stick to your beliefs”
Q How would you describe your business to a stranger?
A 147 Pool and Snooker Center is Inverness’ oldest leisure center dedicated to cue sports. Our second floor premises at Union Street feature seven pool tables, six pool tables, two dart boards and a relaxing fully licensed bar area with two TV screens for live sports and a jukebox system containing more than 200,000 records. Our tables and equipment are of high quality and in excellent condition, constantly cleaned and maintained.
We have an adults only policy and you can just come in for a table. We pride ourselves on providing a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for locals and visitors alike, whether they come for a game or just to relax and chat.
Q What inspired you to start your business?
A My family has been running 147 for 36 years this month. It was started as a members club in 1983 and my mum and dad Ian and May Mackenzie bought it three years later. He was a huge pool enthusiast and was a founding member of the Inverness Pool League in 1977.
I inherited his love of sport and started working at 147 after leaving school, cleaning tables and equipment and learning to play pool and snooker. Over the years I took on more responsibilities and was a manager for the last six years before my parents retired. I was an avid gamer and it was a natural progression when I took over running the company 12 years ago.
Q How has your business grown?
A We have made gradual changes over the past 30 or so years and have adapted to the evolution of the sport and the demands of facilities. 147 has not been a club for around 15 years and we are open to the public – players can either enter from the street or book a table in advance.
Snooker was all the rage in the late 80s and early 90s because of television coverage and at that time we had 10 snooker tables. There were so many people that it was difficult to get a table on the weekend. But interest in snooker has waned in recent years, although billiards is still very popular in Inverness.
So we reconfigured the center by reducing the number of pool tables and adding more for pool as well as increasing the size of the bar area.
We have five teams in the Inverness Pool League as well as our own snooker league and one team in the Moray Snooker League. Our darts team plays in the local league.
Q How are you doing after the Covid-19 pandemic?
A lockdown was difficult but gave us the opportunity to modernize and improve the facilities. I am involved in the Inverness Pool League and with hospitality being so badly affected we were concerned there was not the previous interest, but I am delighted there are 22 teams competing this year.
Q What lessons have you learned from your business experience?
Hard work will eventually pay off if you stick to what you believe in and evolve over time to give customers what they want.
Q What is your vision for Inverness city centre?
A Very nice to see the completed work on the Victorian Market and the good job of redevelopment of Union Square with the new storefronts and apartments above. Inverness is moving in the right direction and the castle project will be a big tourist attraction.
Q Can you tell us something interesting about yourself?
AI have been playing snooker at a decent level for over 30 years and in 1990 I was 19 and the youngest member of the Inverness team that won the prestigious Scottish Super League – the only team in the north of England. Scotland to have won this title.
Small Business Focus is presented in association with Inverness BID