I learn so much from my kids
My advice to other founders is to talk to people who have been there. All the mistakes you’re about to make have been made thousands of times before, so talk to people so you can avoid making them.
It’s important to learn from those who are older and also the younger generation. I learn so much from my kids, who are a lot more emotionally intelligent than I was at their age, which is a good skill.
Having good non-execs really helps, and so does advice from people like BGF, who have a good network of c-suite people. They helped us find our chairman Ronnie McCombe, who’s doing a great job for us. They also helped us to fund an acquisition.
Most of our growth now will be organic, but every now and then a small strategic acquisition is good. We have done five since we started – usually teams of less than 20, which gives us a good foot in the door in certain markets and doesn’t dilute our culture too much. We can integrate a company that size into the business quite easily.
If you do well, it’s because of you
My son Jamie has recently started in the business. I don’t have a plan for him to take over. I’ve always been of the view that kids should make their own way, they shouldn’t be gifted anything; but, he’s a mechanical engineer, he’s just graduated from Leeds, and he wants to do what we do, so we had a chat and I said ‘You can start in the business, but I won’t help you. If you do well, it’s because of you.’
There will come a point when I have to step out of the business. At some point, I’ll have to hand over the reins. I don’t have any plans for a family-run business in future, but you never know what the future brings.