Acclaimed as Birmingham’s Businessman of the Year 2015, Peter Murtha is every inch the successful modern day entrepreneur, with prestigious new company headquarters, top-of-the-range sports cars and a luxurious mansion-style home.
It’s all a far cry from his poverty stricken beginnings in London’s East End, the subsequent battles with depression and the accompanying rock bottom levels of self esteem.
The engaging, 46-year old ‘Jack The Lad’ from Barking, has had to scrap his way out of dark times and difficult places, as well as standing up to death threats from sinister rivals, who’d happily have seen him removed from this world, long before his business had time to grow and eclipse the competition.
Now, 13-years after launching his highly specialised and much acclaimed Optima Hair Specialists Ltd, Peter can boast the UK’s biggest single ‘hair replacement’ studio, operating from Highfield Road in the Edgbaston area of Britain’s Second City.
With thousands of customers, a multi-million pound annual turnover, two-dozen full-time employees, 7,000 sq ft premises and plans to expand on an international scale in 2016/17, Peter has long since learned that the ‘best form of revenge is success.’
Having left school aged 16, without any formal qualifications, he worked as a dustman for a couple of years before becoming a forklift truck driver.
During this time in his early 20s, Peter began losing his hair and with it, his self-confidence, retreating into his shell and spending every last penny, searching for a remedy – re-mortgaging his flat and getting into dangerous waters with loan sharks.
He said: “I’ve always had an outgoing personality, but I switched to working night shifts on the forklifts because there’d be less people around. That way I could wear a hat to cover up my hair loss, without drawing attention to myself.
“Apart from going to work, I hardly ever went out the house for two years, I was in a really bad way.”
Depression, anxiety and stress all culminated in him attempting to take his own life.
Thankfully he proved less successful in the suicide stakes than in his future business enterprises.
In a remarkable turnaround and display of mental strength, he harnessed all the threats and intimidation, the childhood traumas and the ‘put-downs’ and turned them to his advantage.
Not prepared to give his enemies and detractors the satisfaction of winning, he transformed any fear of failure into a motivating force, driving him onto success.
“I worked on the principle of how many ‘no’s’ did I have to work through before getting a ‘yes’ and then ensuring I took full advantage of any and every opportunity.”
Once Optima began establishing firm roots in the rapidly growing hair replacement industry, Peter drew upon his own harrowing experiences to help others, both on a commercial and altruistic level.
Optima has a strong corporate responsibility ethos and Peter has forged partnerships with a number of worthy causes – including the Birmingham Children’s Hospital – helping young cancer patients combat hair loss – a side effect of chemotherapy, to help them in their fight for life.
“I believe that in this world if you give good, you get good in return. It may sound corny, but it’s better to give than receive.
“Yes, I’m running a successful business, but it’s that success that allows me to do what I really love doing – make a positive difference in the lives of people who are less fortunate than myself.”
One of Birmingham’s favourite adopted sons, Peter fully intends to continue being a success, but not just for himself.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at Optima and I love doing what I do, but ultimately I want to be do far more on the philanthropic side and make a positive difference in the lives of deserving people.”
With sentiments like that, Right Word Comms are delighted to promote and support Optima, but more importantly, we’re privileged to call Peter Murtha a very special friend.