SAT 25TH NOV 2017

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Bringing the family business community together

Down On The Copas Family Farm

Sarah Copas

Position: Director

Company: The Copas Partnership

Sector: Food & Drink

 

Business Address: Kings Coppice Farm, Grubwood Lane, Cookham, Berkshire SL6 9UB

 

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Company Description

Village records show, that although the Copas family has been living & working in Cookham since 1698, it wasn't until 1901 when they began farming that they got a real taste for living off the land.  Sarah Copas explains what it means to her.

Question & Answers with Sarah Copas

What Does Your Family Business Do?

Originally a farming business our rural business has diversified into three distinct areas, the production of luxury Christmas turkeys and Christmas produce, Event Management at our event venue in Henley on Thames, and Property Management. 

We have a busy and dynamic year managing tenants within our storage and beautiful offices converted from farm buildings, operating our venue during the summer months full of festivals, private events and Henley Royal Regatta, and then wrapping up the year at Christmas with the seasonal turkey production.

How Did You Get Involved?

With a family business you are always involved, even from an early age. During our school holidays no lie ins were allowed! 

From initial admin, turkey production, and junior event management roles during school and university I worked elsewhere after graduation in marketing and fundraising before returning to the business in my late 20s. 

What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? 

An actress, but then I realised I probably wasn’t cut out for it and I’m a terrible singer!

What Are Your First Memories Of The Family Business?

I have two early memories “helping” carry farm produce to customer’s cars at our farm shop on Sunday mornings, and folding turkey boxes at Christmas. 

As kids we would start the turkey production season in school holidays sat on top of a huge pile of flat-packed boxes and gradually work down the stack during the countdown to Christmas!

What Values Are Important In Your Family/Family Business?

Integrity and honesty. With your name above the door I expect these values are important to many family businesses.  For us integrity and honesty about what we do and what we sell is at the centre of our approach to business. 

What Is The Best Thing About Being A Family Business?

The long-term outlook is a huge asset and benefit to a family business. All relationships and partnerships are viewed for the long-term without an exit strategy or potential for a business sale. Within the business I think this gives all the team a sense of longevity and that they are helping to build something better for the future.

And The Worst?

Family politics and disagreements! It isn’t fun arguing with your family at home, let alone at work. Remembering to leave family disagreements at the office is essential.

What Is The Best Thing About Your Working Day?

I also love arriving at our office or event venue on a beautiful sunny day, it is a special spot in the Thames Valley and at certain times of year the free range turkeys all come out to greet you in their hundreds!

Is There A Next Generation Waiting In The Wings To Take Over?

I’m part of the next generation, and along with my two sisters and brother we are taking over the family business from our father. Beyond us we’ll have to see what the family’s aspirations are, but we have time and also have several children currently in the family with more to follow I’m sure.

What Do You See As The Biggest Challenge Facing Family Businesses?

With the next generation moving into management positions and leading the family business there is a different ethos to work.  While it was common for our parent’s generation to work in the same business for their whole career, that is very unusual now. 

There is a challenge for our generation to keep motivated, satisfied and content with staying in the same business once they have joined, and family businesses need to deliver that motivation for them.

What Words Do You Associate With Family Businesses?

Longevity.  Sincerity.  Personal.  

Words Of Wisdom – What Piece Of Advice Would You Pass On To Someone Thinking About Joining The Family Business?

Be very clear and honest about what you and other family members want out of working in the business.  The clearer you can be at the outset the smoother the road will be.  It is very important that people make their own choice to join the family business out of their own will and don’t feel pressured to do so, to ensure there is no resentment in the future.

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