GARETH Godwin knows all about moving with the times.

A centre for Northallerton’s rugby union side, he was used to bashing through opposition defences and putting his team on the front foot.

However, when the professional era began trickling down to the lower leagues, he’s honest enough to admit he needed a change.

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Used to brushing rivals aside with his size and stature, he was increasingly faced with new opponents, who were leaner and fitter after being brought up on more modern training methods and diet control.

“I was a crash ball centre and I absolutely loved it,” he proudly recalls.

“But it changed when the game went professional.

“Players who had been in the professional or semi-professional ranks began filtering down to lower leagues and brought their experience of that with them.

“It meant a lot of the younger guys were stronger and more physical.

“For most of my career, players would be bouncing off me and I would be able to make breaks.

“But then it changed and I was bouncing off them; I thought at that point it was a good time to retire”, he laughs.

Making a change has been omnipresent in Mr Godwin’s career too.

The son of a haulier, he did an engineering apprenticeship to prepare himself for a life with the family business.

However, things changed when he went to work for Prestons of Potto, which has depots in North Yorkshire and Teesside.

That move ignited a spark in Mr Godwin and he founded his own haulage business, taking various goods to customers.

Further jobs at a company in Knayton, near Thirsk, and Middlesbrough’s AV Dawson followed before he moved to haulier DH Pearson, a subsidiary of Teesside’s JJ Ward.

From there he was given the opportunity to oversee Ward’s new focus on glass recycling, as manager of its WRL Glass Media operation.

Moving with the times again, he is now driving the business’ growth.

WRL makes items from recycled glass, such as shot-blasting products, which are used as an environmentally-friendly alternative to grit or plastic, and more refined processed glass, which is used as a cheaper and cleaner replacement for silica sand in swimming pool filtration systems.

It’s a venture that has captured the attention of companies around the world.

Spa operators in the Czech Republic clamour for its goods to keep waters crystal clear.

WRL has also sent glass to Dubai because the United Arab Emirates’ sand is not quite right for filtration, and products have also gone to Australia, the Falkland Islands, Libya, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland to name just a few countries.

“I don’t know of any other companies that make a recycled product at the same facility where it is sorted”, said Mr Godwin.

“We are making a product of value.”

The company, based at South Bank, near Middlesbrough, has already exported more than 4,000 tonnes of cargo this year.

However, Mr Godwin revealed deals are in the pipeline, which could push that figure even higher.

Europe, he says, holds many opportunities for WRL, and revealed plans have been discussed to open a site abroad.

Mr Godwin said the business would need to increase exports to around 60 per cent before that could become feasible, but says talks over shot blasting supplies could provide a catapult to help reach such a level.

Once again, he’s moving with the times.

He added: “Europe is where we see our future and long-term we would like to build a factory abroad.

“We have looked at it but have done no more than that yet because we would need to get exports to 60 per cent.

“But we have had a fairly rapid rise to 40 per cent.

“The long-term ambition is to expand into mainland Europe to better respond to the pressures and demands of the international market.

“The promising start we’ve made on exports brings our ambition another step closer.”

Five minutes with Gareth Godwin....

Favourite North-East building and why? Rudby Hall, near Hutton Rudby, North Yorkshire. I live nearby and it’s stunning. My wife and I love it there.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? When I left school at 16, I got £30 a week as an apprentice engineer.

What is the worst job you've had? To be honest, I’ve been really lucky never to have had a job I didn’t enjoy.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I love tuna, so probably a nice, thick tuna steak with some asparagus and mustard mash.

What would your superpower be? To be able to see into the future.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Gareth Edwards, the retired Welsh rugby union scrum-half; the cricketer Ian Botham; and the singers James Taylor and Bruno Mars.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? A carbon fibre road bike, which cost £4,750.

Favourite book? I don’t really read. The only book I can remember finishing was when I was at school. It was A World of My Own, by the sailor, Robin Knox-Johnston. I used to do a lot of sailing with my dad growing up.

When did you last cry? A few weeks ago when our cat died.

What is your greatest achievement? My children.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Do your own thing. Don’t follow. Have the courage of your convictions.

Favourite animal and why? Border terrier – we’ve got one and it’s the best dog in the world.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? I don’t really know any celebs, I’m afraid.

What was the last band you saw live? Mental as Anything, at Redcar Bowl, about 30 years ago.

Describe your perfect night in: I’m all for a quiet night in. A nice meal followed by a big sporting event on the TV.

In another life I would be... A fly-half rugby union player for Wales, or a singer.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Brad Pitt – we’re like twins.

What irritates you? Lying.

What's your secret talent? Karaoke.