Family businesses shine at inaugural Cartmell Shepherd Summer Social

AN event held to give an insight into family businesses had guests transfixed as speakers from three companies gave searingly honest accounts of the challenges they have faced.


More than 100 people gathered for the Cartmell Shepherd Summer Social, an event held at Warwick Hall in association with the Family Business Network (on Thursday August 2).


From near bankruptcy to the value of staff and building a business on ice cream, speakers from More Handles, Stalkers Transport and Ryecorn Ltd gave guests an insight into how they build successful family brands.


The event was opened by Cartmell’s managing director Peter Stafford who said: “It was fantastic to see so many people at our inaugural summer social and fascinating to hear the stories behind some amazing family business.


“It was a privilege to hear the insights they shared, which gave real food for thought and underlined among many things, the importance of diversification, building a team and being strong in the face of adversity.


“The weather held out, the setting was simply stunning and the company was second-to-none.


“This was the first in a series of events we will be hosting in partnership with the Family Business Network and I look forward to welcoming guests in September and November as we gather once again”


Guests were welcomed with cocktails before Sue Howorth, director of the Family Business Network introduced speakers from some of the county’s most successful family businesses took to the stage to share their stories of success..


Paul Reinbach. managing director of More Handles spoke of the power of the team, saying: “I don’t like the expression employees – I prefer colleagues and I want them to feel part of a team.


“I never want one of my colleagues to wake up and feel dread at coming into work. I want them to feel a part of the business and to share our vision. The best way for them to share it, is for me to share it with them, so we are all invested. With the momentum of that investment, we can really achieve great things.”


The history of each business was shared with guests before the speakers gave more detail about some of the challenges they faced.


Karen Stalker who runs Stalkers Transport, a third generation family business, with her brother Dave told how the business came close to bankruptcy after she uncovered accounting irregularities.


She said: “The more I looked into it, the more I realised something was not right. I had opened a can of worms and we realised that someone we had trusted had been taking money out of the business.


“We calculated it was in the region of £110k, but we actually had to write off close to £250,000. This was someone we had trusted and treated as part of the family and had been working for us for a while. It was terrible, but we put measures in place to mitigate what had happened and rebuilt the business.”


The issue if diversification came to the fore as Kate Mawson of Ryecorn Ltd, a company with its history in dairy farming spoke of its move into the ice cream and hotel business.


Now there are multiple arms to what was once a traditional agricultural business and the family is thriving.


After a question and answer session with Sue Howorth, attention turned to cocktails and canapes.


She said: “The stories we heard were truly inspirational and the degree to which the panel were willing to share their experiences of running family businesses was incredible.


“Every time I am involved in an event like this, we hear stories of success and challenge which have perhaps not been told before. It’s a true privilege.”


Cartmell Shepherd has two further events planned for September and November, with details to be released in due course.