Cumbrian family firm triumphs on national stage

Cumbrian based steel distributor Thomas Graham & Sons has been crowned North & Northern Ireland Family Business of the Year at the seventh annual Family Business of the Year Awards (‘FBOTY’) in a glittering ceremony at the prestigious May Fair Hotel in London.

The family firm qualified for FBOTY, the national awards organised by Family Business United, by taking the Cumbria Family Business Award organised by co-founders The Family Business Network Ltd and Flock PR & Events earlier this year. Qualifying saw them take on the bigger stage competing with family firms from across the whole of the North of England and Northern Ireland.

Thomas Graham are a fifth generation family business, established in 1892 with their head office in Carlisle and as specialist industrial suppliers and steel stockholders they still stock some similar ranges as they held when starting as a steel merchant over 127 years ago!  Roger Smith is the great, great grandson of the original Thomas Graham and he is joined in the business by his father Ian and sister Amanda.

The Family Business of the Year Awards celebrate the vital contribution that family businesses of all sizes play in the UK economy.  Innovation, investment, passion and pride are evident in family businesses across the UK confirming that the family business has much to celebrate.  With around 5 million family firms in the UK providing around 12 million jobs and generating a significant contribution to GDP, these national awards certainly help to put the family business sector on the map and give them the recognition they deserve.

Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United explained: “Thomas Graham is a fantastic family firm and is highly deserving of all the plaudits that winning this award brings.”

As Paul continues, “This was a strong category but Thomas Graham is certainly worthy of the title.  This is a business that is proud of its history and heritage yet remains focused on making a difference.  The business employs over 200+ staff and is well guided by the family shareholder values, has active family involvement and a long term sustainable and profitable growth record.”

“They recognise the need to promote non-family talent to the ‘top table’ and have a governance framework that works for them where decisions can be made quickly and effectively too.  The wider team is integral to their success – there is constant investment and innovation too and they demonstrate a real sense of community involvement and support and a real pride in what they do,” concludes Paul.

As Sue Howorth, one of the co-founders of the Cumbria Family Business Awards adds, “All of the finalists in our Cumbria awards have the opportunity to move on to the nationals and as in previous years it is great to see Cumbrian firms triumph on the national stage.  Thomas Graham is a fantastic family firm and not only are they worthy winners, they are great ambassadors, not just for Cumbria but for family businesses across the UK and I am delighted at their success.”

The 2019 awards attracted a record number of entries with more family firms than ever from across the UK competing for the awards, with the winners were announced at a glittering ceremony at The May Fair Hotel in the heart of Mayfair, London on June 6.

Roger Smith, Managing Director at Thomas Graham added that “We are delighted to have won this award which is a fantastic achievement for our family firm and winning is testament to the hard work, commitment and dedication of the 200+ staff that contribute to the continual improvement and success of the company.”

“We have come a long way in the last 127 years but our values have remained the same from the beginning.  We are a family run business and strive to continually improve and do the best that we can for our staff, customers and local community.”

“Our staff is incredible and we are very lucky to have the workforce we do.  They live and breathe the value of the business, work incredibly hard and have brought us to where we are today.  To win this award is fantastic recognition for us as a family business and although we can’t guarantee what the future brings we are excited as the Thomas Graham journey continues with our family values steering us down the right path.”

Thomas Graham were one of fifteen finalists in the running for the North & Northern Ireland beating some great businesses from across the region to take the title.  Other Cumbrian finalists who made it to the national finals included Amy’s Care, The Garden of Eden, Yew Tree barn, Reays, The Crafty Baa, The Apple Pie Cafe and Bakery, Dodgson Woods, Simpson & Partners and Sweethearts Cumbria so Cumbria was well represented on the national stage.

As Paul concludes: “It is a privilege to organise these awards and to find out more about the fantastic family firms that are the backbone of the UK economy.  Thomas Graham is one such firm – a great family business, a great family business ambassador and a well-deserving winner of the North & Northern Ireland Family Business of the Year 2019.”