The family business – a guide to success

According to a recent study by PwC, family businesses employ around 9.5 million people in the UK and account for 31% of the country’s GDP. The sector is dynamic and resilient, with nearly three quarters seeing growth in the last year and 90% looking to expand. Your Ready Business spoke to Jamie Allam, Commercial Director at Amthal Fire & Security to discuss how family values has helped his family build a strong business.

When was Amthal Fire and Security founded?

The company was first set up in 2000 by my brother John Allam, my parents and our close friends the Rosenthal family. I joined the business in 2008 and in 2015 we are now welcoming the third generation into carefully curated roles within the family business.

How does being a family business impact on corporate values?

As a family business, one of our very first strategies was to develop a core vision and set of values.  These stem from our own upbringings and how we treat each other within the family. In fact, we see our customers as an extension of our team and business.

I think this attitude can really only come from a family focused business, as we have an inherent sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) due to the strong family values that guide us within our community. These values also act as a key differentiating factor in a crowded marketplace.

Our mission, vision and values all remain unchanged and are instilled in every new member who joins the team – even the new generation coming into the workforce who have very different experiences and expectations for their career, not least in the adoption of latest innovation and different ways to communicate.

 How do you adapt to market changes?

We strongly believe that our business cannot stand still and never has this been more critical to our success. With the increasing speed of change in technology and markets alongside constantly evolving end user expectations, there is now a definite need to innovate and adapt faster.

We are in a strong position to quickly take advantage of this new business landscape.  The primary reason being that we share the same priorities and have much more control over our decisions and long-term vision than a publicly owned company would have.

A good example of this is how we’re approaching the critical skills shortage facing the industry. From our perspective, the biggest issue with the skills shortage is that there is a lack of engineers with niche expertise. Instead of seeing the skills gap as a barrier – as a family, we chose to commit to an annual apprenticeship programme to encourage job-specific skills.  This is something we have invested in for the last 10 years that has already proven its value in supporting the team. It’s something we will continue to support and grow as a business.

This decision has inevitably helped the business to adopt new innovations, understand modern methods of communication and embrace the new technologies available quickly and efficiently.

What would be your advice to others who want to start up a family business?

1. Trust and respect each other’s skill sets

We naturally assumed our positions in the business – John into Operations, Paul in Sales and myself in Commercial – with the backing of our parents and partners in key strategic finance and administration roles.

2. Know what your weaknesses are

We understand ‘stress points’ between us, our strengths and our weaknesses. This means we generally know how to resolve any issues quickly due to the close working relationship, family bond and respect we share.

3. Have a clear team structure

The clear structure of the team under our direction is equally important to its development. With the new generation and our apprentice programme, it has allowed each individual to settle into their defined role and take responsibility with their dedicated line manager for their individual growth.

4. Create a positive working atmosphere

A positive working and nurturing atmosphere is very important. All our apprentices work alongside our more experienced staff. We believe we provide an environment that allows them to express their ideas and see first hand how they’ve contributed to our business.

What does the future bring for Amthal?

The development of mobile technology and smart technology systems offers exciting times both for our company and the industry as a whole.

We are committed to an ambitious five year growth plan, and believe we are always learning and being inspired on our journey to success.

The new generation of employees has undoubtedly supported our growth and helped us to embrace new ways of working and communicating.

Collectively, we have as a team been in the industry for a long time. Our deep commitment to our core mission, vision and values provides a solid foundation to remain a successful business.