A Mill Hill-based father and son both set up successful businesses while at JFS, derailing from the traditional educational track.
JFS “boys” Andy and James Gilmore, 45 and 15, both established their own businesses because “we have the entrepreneurial flair from an early age,” explained the father of two.
Mr Gilmore, managing director of AAI Security Systems, founded his electronic security business at the age of 14 on the JFS Camden premises. He said: “I was always interested in electronics, and messed about with designs and burglar alarm systems at school”.
Recognising an opportunity to source and install burglar alarms at affordable prices, the teenage Mr Gilmore began using break times “to call suppliers and clients from the school’s only payphone, in the foyer.
“The school was really good,” he said. “They knew exactly what I was doing and I was the only student at the time allowed to use the payphone”.
Mr Gilmore left school with six O Levels at the age of 16, intending to develop his own business, but “people at the careers office went absolutely mad and put me up for an apprenticeship.
“I went ballistic when I found out, because I would have to sit exams — but it was a good thing, because I was one of just four people who got the place, out of 250 people who applied”.
A year later, Mr Gilmore established his security and burglar alarm company, which now employs 30 people, has 8,000 clients and will celebrate its 25th anniversary this April.
The Mill Hill synagogue member recalled his first client — “a private house in Mill Hill.” He now provides security systems “for most communal buildings. Most of the United Synagogues, Masorti shuls, cemeteries and schools, use our systems.”
The entrepreneurial trait has extended to his son James, who is studying for his GCSEs at JFS’s Kenton campus. James founded the weekend Wizard Radio FM station three years ago.
James runs the station, which targets teenagers across the globe, “from my bedroom. One day I was on Skype to my friend, we were pretending to be on the radio and he suggested I did start my own station. I don’t know if he was joking, but I did it.”
James said: “I try to keep school and the radio separate, but I do talk to teachers and my head of year about the station – they’re intrigued.”
The Year 10 student added: “The station changes and gets bigger every day. One of the reasons we’re so successful is because the station recognises that there’s more than one type of teenager”. Wizard FM features a range of programmes from politics to game shows and airs from 12pm to 12am from Friday to Sunday.
JFS head-teacher Jonathan Miller said: “Wizard Radio is a really innovative project and we are immensely proud of James and his achievements. He is a model for other students of how to put his education into practice in an innovative and entrepreneurial way.”