A family business journey that has had its fair share of challenges but where determination has paved the way for success. Richard Healey Removals is a family business going places. In the last 6 years the company has significantly increased its contract business; quadrupled the size of their premises; diversified into new markets and amassed an impressive array of awards along the way.
However, circumstance very nearly spelled disaster for this second-generation Ayrshire family business. Georgina Berry explains why.
My parents instilled values in all of us that you should never give up no matter how bad a situation may be and that there is nothing in life that you can’t do if you work hard and stay determined.
It was that determination to succeed that inspired my father, Richard Healey, to set up a removal business in 1965. Within a short period of time the company was fulfilling contracts with local authorities, prisons, and schools, eventually providing enough capital for him to apply for an operator’s licence, rent premises and employ staff.
My brother Richard joined the business in 1994, the same day he left school. It was never in the plan for me to be part of the family business. A few years later, I completed my financial services exams and agreed to help out in the office for a few weeks to free Richard up so he could focus on growing sales. That was 20 years ago and I’m still here!
For many years the business thrived but in reflection we were probably under resourced. We became too focused on servicing our largest customer and a little complacent in neglecting other important parts of the business. At the height of the recession, we lost our biggest customer. Finding ourselves in such a circumstance, to have unwittingly put all our eggs all in one basket, was gut wrenching. We thought we were finished.
We had to work hard and re-invent ourselves to ensure the survival of the business. We developed a new marketing strategy, and started paying closer attention to the monthly figures and forecasts. We also started networking again and entering awards. That was six years ago and the hard work has paid off I’m glad to say. We have expanded into new markets including document storage, shredding and the destruction of confidential waste. In 2015 we moved into 120,000 sq ft premises, which has given us capacity to grow. Last year we became an approved training centre for the British Association of Removers, which means we can offer Driver CPC training as well as a variety of accredited courses including manual handling for care home staff, hospitals, colleges, and so on which we do here in Beith at our dedicated onsite training rooms and conference facilities.
We have also sought external advice from Family Business Solutions Ltd (FBS) who have been incredible. Decisions like succession planning, delegation, and decision-making are more emotionally driven when it’s a family business and in my experience it helps to get an external perspective especially at times of change, uncertainty or when one generation is moving on or taking over the reigns of the business. Thanks to FBS we have also established better structures and processes that make people accountable for their own jobs, allowing Richard, Barry and I to focus on business development.
We employ 34 staff and we have 4 apprentices working for us. We like to promote from within the business where possible, so that when someone comes to work with us they have a defined career development path within the company. Everyone puts in 100% effort and we all share the same ethos and constantly strive to improve our quality of service and reputation. It’s because of the family connection and our heritage that our team make an extra effort with every task they carry out.
There are still challenges. Ayrshire is an area of high unemployment but removal work is hard work. It’s physically demanding and it’s difficult to attract the calibre of staff we need. The increase in minimal wages has also had an effect and contract work doesn’t have the same margins it used too. However, we have received wonderful support from North Ayrshire Council in areas such as marketing, tendering, and training, which in turn has played a pivotal role in us winning contracts with South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, and East Renfrewshire.
It has been an eventful journey and there is still so much ahead of us, but we work well together as a family and at the end of the day I am enormously proud to say I that work for our family business.