Fracino is the UK’s only manufacturer of cappuccino and espresso machines and associated equipment and was 50 years old in 2013. Managing Director Adrian Maxwell shared his thoughts with Paul Andrews.
What does your family business do?
Fracino is the UK’s only manufacturer of cappuccino and espresso machines and associated equipment. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 and are very proud to have been awarded the title of the UK’s top manufacturer and the UK’s Outstanding Export award from the manufacturer’s association the EEF.
How did you get involved?
I’ve been involved with the business ever since I was a baby when my dad, Fracino founder Frank Maxwell, took me in a carry cot to our customers in Leicester and Birmingham in the heady 60s before we’d started manufacturing and were repairing machines. After leaving school at 16 I went to Rolls-Royce for four years and completed my technical apprenticeship and HND.
I next took on a couple of jobs which included manufacturing and selling agricultural gates and fittings before joining Fracino full time aged 23 as a service engineer. At that time dad could not complete the volume of work on his own and there were just the two of us compared to the 40-strong team we employ today.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an engineer from a toddler. Our house, garden and workshop were always heaving with cars and machines being repaired which would drive my mum to distraction. I loved learning how to take things apart and reassemble them. We must have been the neighbours from hell with all incessant hammering and banging at all hours of the night!
What are your first memories of the family business?
My first really clear memories are going with dad when I was about five years old to see long standing customer Geoff Rossa at Cafe Bocca in Leicester in our new – well new to us – Morris J4 van. Geoff has been a valued customer and friend for 50 years (as long as we’ve been in business) and I would happily sit on top of his counter changing the steam valve washers.
What values are important in your family/family business?
Trust, respect, transparency – and openness. My respect for my dad Frank is enormous – and he is my business hero. As a family we value our hard work ethos and quality driven culture – always striving to do everything to the best of our ability.
What is the best thing about being a family business?
Being united in a common goal and supporting each other while sharing our business experiences as a close knit family unit which is always travelling in the same direction.
And the worst?
The fact that we never escape from our work and find it nigh on impossible to switch off when we’re at home. I’m the biggest culprit by far!
What is the best thing about your working day?
Getting up for work – every day I’m excited about what the day will bring even though many of them are hijacked before they get off the ground. No one day is the same and I relish the opportunities and challenges each one brings.
What is your proudest family business achievement?
Being awarded the EEF’s UK’s Winner of Winners Award this January this year. It’s the highest honour the EEF can bestow on a British manufacturer and reflects how, in four years, we built a global export business which now exports to over 50 countries.
Is there a next generation waiting in the wings to take over?
Definitely – outside of Frank our founder and Marion my wife who is our credit controller, our daughters Rebecca and Katrina work as service coordinator and purchase ledger respectively. Our son David is currently training to be an engineer at Leeds University and works with us during his holidays.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing family businesses?
Succession planning is critical – as is keeping things on an even keel and identifying and managing any potential sibling rivalry. We wholeheartedly believe in the adage that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
What words do you associate with family businesses?
Unity, trust, hard work, stability, reliability, tenacity, transparency and quality driven for starters. We’re all in this together which has proved a powerful formula for our success.
Words of wisdom – What piece of advice would you pass on to someone thinking about joining the family business?
Join it for the right reasons, not because you feel obligated – the worst possible reason. Also, if you do believe its right and it does not work out then bow out gracefully and move on as opposed to being miserable. We only have one life so it’s vital to be fulfilled by what we do for a living.