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special anniversary edition 1914 2014

1914 2014


100 years of




An enlightened approach to independent insurance and financial advice

The magazine from The Wilson Organisation

1914 2014



and building we look at how wilsons is celebrating a century of achievements in 2014 Winter/Spring 2014

The magazine fromlThe Wilson Organisation Private client insurance l 2013 Family Business Awards Belton Massey


What’s inside

in this special anniversary issue 04

04 Centenary celebrations See how Wilsons has grown and flourished over the past 100 years


10 2013 Awards review Reflecting on another memorable night at the Midlands Family Business Awards 16 A great conversion Profiling the 2013 Midlands Family Business of the Year 22 Bag it up Let Wilsons provide comprehensive insurance to cover your personal belongings on the go

16 22

24 The magazine from The Wilson Organisation

24 A good vintage Like one of their fine wines, Nottingham wine merchant Weavers is ageing nicely


FOR WILSONS Editor: Hilary Campton Enquiries: Ped Briggs FOR BOWLESASSOCIATES Editor: Simon Cleaves simon@bowlesassociates. com Editorial team: Terry Bowles Matt Halfpenny PHOTOGRAPHY illuminate is produced for Wilsons by BowlesAssociates. However, the views expressed may not be those of either company, their partners or employees. Harold Wilson (Insurances) Ltd and Harold Wilson Financial Services Ltd are authorised and regulated by The Financial Services Authority. The information provided in this magazine is for information purposes only and should not be construed as advice.


Welcome to the latest edition of illuminate, our magazine for clients and friends of The Wilson Organisation. 2014 is shaping up to be a landmark year for us at Wilsons as we celebrate our centenary. And while age can sometimes be a sensitive subject, this is one birthday that we plan to celebrate in style! Over the coming months we’ll be talking to other family businesses that are also celebrating 100 years to discover the family values that make their thriving companies tick. We’ve also got a busy schedule under our ‘100 Things for Charity’ initiative, where our people have the chance to make a difference through a range of activities, ranging from marathon running to environmental projects. And of course we have Wilson Bear, designed and manufactured especially for us by Merrythought, the UK’s oldest surviving teddy bear maker and itself a family business. Wilson will be popping up frequently during our centenary celebrations so do keep an eye out for him. Merrythought’s MD Sarah Holmes was a Family Business Awards winner back in 2011 and throughout illuminate you’ll find profiles of some of the fantastic finalists and winners of the 2013 Midlands Family Business Awards, which took place in Birmingham in November. We are proud of the Awards and the funds they have generated for charity, and feel very privileged to be able to meet with and learn from so many inspirational business leaders during the process.

Chairman: John Prow Managing Director: Charlotte Perkins Chief Executive: Annabel Prow

The Awards are now entering their fifth year and plans are afoot to make them bigger and better than ever. So, grab yourself a cup of tea and settle down for a read - we do hope you enjoy the magazine.

The Wilson Organisation Wilson House 1/3 Waverley Street Nottingham NG7 4HG Tel: 0115 942 0111 Fax: 0115 942 0459 FamilyBizAwards

Annabel Prow, Chief Executive

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Wilsons’ Centenary

The Wilson Organisation celebrates a major milestone in 2014, as the company has been providing excellent independent insurance and financial advice to clients for 100 years. Founded by Harold Wilson in the shadow of World War I, the business is very much ‘going strong’ under the Prow family... who are looking forward to the next century.


his year marks a significant milestone for The Wilson Organisation... the company is proudly celebrating 100 years in business.

to grow the business and soon found the value of having the right team behind him.

Wilsons has undergone huge changes since it was founded by Harold Wilson in 1914, when he stood outside motor taxation offices in Nottingham to offer people insurance. There were eight staff working in the business by the time the young John Prow joined in 1960, the firm having been bought by his father several years before.

He said: “I had the supreme confidence of youth but I could not have done it if I had not had a good team around me. Our people have always been of paramount importance to our business and through attracting and retaining talented individuals we can provide an exceptional working environment and excellent client care. A business can only succeed if it has the right people.”

When John’s parents died in an accident, he found himself in charge of the business at the very young age of 27. Despite having only eight years’ experience, John wanted to continue

Wilsons has pursued a policy of growth, both organically and through the acquisition of other broking firms. Growth has been achieved by providing clients, both corporate

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and private, with expert professional advice, service and integrity with a constant awareness of changes in industry and market conditions. Today, John’s daughters Annabel and Charlotte are the third generation of the family to run the business, supported at Wilsons by their father and mother Olga. Reflecting on Wilsons’ centenary milestone, Annabel said: “The firm has never stood still, and its commitment to our clients and the belief that they are the most important part of the business, is as strong today as it was when the firm began in 1914. Our reputation for service excellence and innovation in the insurance services and financial advice provided by

from left: john j prow (centre) at the opening of wilson house; charlotte and annabel; john and margaret prow in wedding finery, and with harold wilson and his wife.

Wilsons’ Centenary

Wilsons has endured the economic challenges and social changes over its 100-year history.” Charlotte believes the spirit of innovation is still as relevant to the business today as it has been for the last 100 years, and added: “We remain an organisation with pioneering spirit. We have never stood still and been complacent in our position, as we believe this is not the best interests of us, or our clients. “We have always maintained that the most important part of our business is our clients, both large and small, corporate and private. We are very proud to say that many of our clients have remained with us for decades.”

Wilsons have always encouraged their people to become involved in local projects and engage with both the local community as well as the business community. The ‘100 Things for Charity’ initiative will run throughout 2014, with one charitable or community event or activity for each of Wilsons 100 years of business. The ‘100 Things for Charity’ initiative was unveiled to Wilsons staff at a Victorian-themed event, in recognition of the firm being founded in 1914, to kick-start the centenary year.


“Wilsons not only wants to highlight the longevity, innovation and achievements of the firm over the last 100 years, but also give the whole team the chance to work with the people and community in and around Nottingham, while having a bit of fun too,” said Charlotte. “From running marathons and fun runs, to working with local schools and charities, our staff are keen to support initiatives that benefit the environment, young people and children, and support health and sport. “A hundred years in business is a really significant achievement,” added John. “We can’t think of a better occasion to celebrate with our team, our clients and the wider community.”

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Wilsons’ Centenary

Wilsons has been innovating since 1914, under the leadership of Harold Wilson and three generations of the Prow family... 1914 – A successful launch! The Wilson Organisation was founded in 1914 by Harold Wilson and became the first company in the East Midlands to offer a comprehensive insurance policy to the region’s fast-growing band of automobile drivers. Innovation from day one.


1960s – The 1960s were the start of a new era for Wilsons. Harold Wilson and John F Prow died on the same day in 1963, Harold of illness and John in a car crash. This left John’s son, John J Prow, to run the business at the age of 27. Under his youthful leadership, Wilsons benefitted from a new energy and direction. John J Prow, who had joined in 1960 in a new business role, led the move into our current head office at Wilson House in 1964 and then launched the financial services division in the following year.

1969 Acquired business of Charles F Booth

1972 Ken Greaves became joint MD


1970s & 1980s – Ken Greaves, who joined Wilsons in 1961, became joint Managing Director of the business in 1972. Charlotte Prow was born in 1978, with Annabel arriving in 1980. 1987 saw a significant personal achievement for John J Prow, climbing to the summit of Mont Blanc – the highest peak in europe.

1978 CJP born

1978 CJP born


1980 AKP born

1990s – John J Prow continues to grow the organisation, and the late 1990s heralded the start of the third generation of the Prow family’s involvement in the business when Charlotte started working at Wilsons in 1998.

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1998 CJP joined the business

1990 1997 Wilsons’ Corporate Finance specialism established, under direction of John Steele FD

1987 JJP climbed Mont Blanc


Wilsons’ Centenary

1930s – John J Prow was born in 1936, while Wilsons was operating from offices on Milton Street in Nottingham

1920s – During the 1920s Wilsons developed its commercial insurance offering under the stewardship of Harold Wilson.

2012 Ellie Perkins, fourth generation of the family, was born

2010 FBA commenced

2009 & 2010 Sponsored Restaurant Awards

2010 2002 Acquired business of O’Dell Walton

2002 AKP joined the business

2000 2000 Wilsons established the first Construction Forum in the East Midlands

2009 AKP became CEO & CJP became Group MD

2008 Ken Greaves retired from the board


2007 CJP/AKP became joint MD


1949 John F Prow joined the business

1940s – John F Prow joined Harold Wilson in the business, marking the first generation of the Prow family’s involvement in The Wilson Organisation. Wilsons’ clients included leading Nottingham firm Boots the Chemist, plus a number of operators in the burgeoning railway sector.

1960 JJP joined the business

1961 Ken Greaves joined Wilsons

1963 JJP became chairman

1964 Moved to Wilson House

1930 1940

1964 OP joined the business


2000s – Annabel joined the family business in 2002, the same year that John Prow acquired the business of O’Dell Walton. Charlotte and Annabel became joint Managing Directors in 2007, before moving into the roles we see them in today – Charlotte as Group MD and Annabel as CEO.

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Wilsons’ Centenary

the bear necessity A

unique, specially designed and commissioned teddy bear will have a key role to play throughout the Wilsons’ centenary celebrations.

Charlotte Perkins and Annabel Prow initially met Merrythought, Britain’s oldest remaining teddy bear manufacturer, when director Sarah Holmes was named Joint Winner in the Outstanding Contribution category at the Midlands Family Business Awards 2011. And when the idea arose to adopt Wilson Bear as mascot for the centenary activities, they wouldn’t consider anyone else to create it. Merrythought is a fourth generation family business run by sisters Sarah, Hannah and Sophie Holmes. They manufacture a range of beautifully made traditional and limited edition teddy bears which are sought after across the globe. Although Wilson Bear was specifically designed for Charlotte and Annabel and carries the ‘Wilson Organisation 100 Years’ logo on his paw, there is nothing mass-produced about any Merrythought bear. Each one is lovingly handcrafted at their Ironbridge factory, so no two bears are ever exactly the same. Through every stage of production, the dedicated team of highly skilled staff ensure that only the highest quality soft toys are made. Merrythought is proud that its teddy bears remain 100 per cent handmade in England - in the same way and in the same factory as they have been for more than 80 years.

“There is nothing mass-produced about any Merrythought bear. Each one is lovingly handcrafted - so no two bears are ever exactly the same” Annabel explained: “We’re delighted Merrythought agreed to make Wilson Bear for us. He will attend all centenary events and celebrations, travel with us to other businesses celebrating milestones in their history, and to clients’ premises for meetings. In fact the whole team will take him to our ‘100 Things’ events and his year-long adventure will be documented in a commemorative book to be published once the centenary celebrations draw to a close. “Wilsons will also be Tweeting about his activities throughout the year on @TheWilsonOrg,” adds Charlotte. “He even has his own Facebook page where everyone can keep track of his activities.”

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Wilsons’ Centenary


merrythought workers in full flow during the 1930s. the business was founded in 1930 and to this day continues to craft the finest teddy bears for export across the globe. LEFT: Wilson comes to life... our special edition merrythought bear is made by hand at the 84-year-old ironbridge factory.

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Midlands Family Business Awards

belton massey convert rapid growth to awards victory


t was a night of celebrations for staff from Belton Massey, Europe’s largest independent manufacturer of high quality, non-original catalytic converters, after the company claimed the top prize at the 2013 Midlands Family Business Awards at the University of Birmingham. Established in 1966, the Mansfieldbased manufacturer operates from two bases, supplying distributors and garages in more than 30 countries worldwide. Belton Massey was named Family Business of the Year and celebrated along with the winners and highly commended finalists in nine other categories at a glamorous black-tie dinner at the University’s majestic Great Hall, attended by more than

Guests raised their glasses to some of the region’s success stories for another memorable night of great food and fine company at the Midlands Family Business Awards. 300 family businesses, sponsors and supporters. The region’s only independent awards for family businesses saw 42 entries make the final cut, and those finalists faced the judges. The independent judging panel included TV presenter and family business expert Alex Polizzi, Simon Beckett of 2012 Family Business of the Year, Becketts Farm, President of Speedo International David Robinson,

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Mark Samworth of Samworth Brothers, and MD of 99p Stores, Hussein Lalani. Reflecting on the Awards, Alex Polizzi, who judged the headline Family Business of the Year Award alongside Chris Taylor of business advisory firm Smith Cooper, said: “I have been very impressed with the quality of the finalists. We should all be supportive of family businesses wherever we can and it is nice to have the opportunity

2013 Awards review


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Midlands Family Business Awards

to sing about their successes.” Chris Taylor, Partner at Smith Cooper in Nottingham, commented: “As headline sponsor, one of our favourite duties is to participate in the judging of the Family Business of the Year Award. Each year we meet some truly incredible businesses and this was no exception. Choosing a winner was a really difficult decision for all of the judges because we saw so many passionate and ambitious businesses.” The firm’s Jackie Hendley, Partner and Head of Tax in Birmingham, added: “What stood out with this year’s winner was the enthusiasm and passion with which the staff run their business. Belton Massey is a truly deserving winner and we wish them the very best.” In recognition of their centenary year in 2014, Awards’ founder The Wilson

Organisation presented a special Longevity award to Nottingham’s Weavers Wines, a family business that was established in 1844 and is today run by both fourth and fifth generation family members. Wilsons’ CEO Annabel Prow explained: “As one of the region’s oldest independent businesses, Weavers Wines is both a fitting and deserving winner of this special Longevity Award. It embodies all that is great about family businesses - a firm set of family values, passion and pride, and great customer service.” Charlotte Perkins, MD of Wilsons, said: “Much has happened since we established the Midlands Family Business Awards four years ago, but our aim remains the same: to celebrate and shine a light on our

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“What stood out with this year’s winner was the enthusiasm and passion with which they run their business” Jackie Hendley, Partner, Head of Tax at Smith Cooper region’s family business heroes. Along this hugely enjoyable journey we’ve also raised significant funds to support disadvantaged young people, and made many new good friends. “As a third generation family business, the friendship, support and inspiration that we receive from our peers cannot be underestimated and we hope that, through these awards, we can help other family businesses to build equally valuable relationships. “Crucial to the awards are our fantastic and loyal sponsors, many of

2013 Awards review


The full list of winners in 2013: Midlands Family Business of the Year Belton Massey (p16) sponsored by Smith Cooper Fastest Growing Family Business Halsbury Travel sponsored by Barclays Business Innovation Bowler Energy (p19) sponsored by PwC Outstanding Contribution Rebecca Manfredi, Suncream Dairies sponsored by Thomas Miller Investment and First Actuarial Manufacturing Excellence Swiftool Precision Engineering (p15) sponsored by Crouch Logistics whom have been with us since the very beginning. Our heartfelt thanks go to Barclays, First Actuarial, Fraser Brown, PwC, RSA, Thomas Miller Investment, Unum, and of course our headline sponsors, Smith Cooper. We were especially delighted to welcome three family businesses to the sponsor roster in 2013 - Crouch Logistics, Shredall/ SDS and Triplar Ltd. “The awards truly are a celebration of excellence for the region’s family business community; they are independent, not for profit and are run with the aim of celebrating successful family businesses and creating a supportive network of likeminded people. For those who haven’t yet got involved, we would love to see you during the 2014 Midlands Family Business Awards.”

The fifth Midlands Family Business Awards will launch in May 2014... To keep fully up to date with our exciting plans, bookmark Follow our dedicated Twitter feed @FamilyBizAwards And finally, find us on Facebook: Midlands Family Business Awards

Service Excellence Lea Marston Hotel & Spa sponsored by Fraser Brown Leading Adviser to Family Businesses Chris Romans, PwC sponsored by Unum Commitment to the Community Joint Winners: Cope Seeds and Robert Woodhead sponsored by Shredall/SDS Ltd (p14) Retail Excellence CW Sellors sponsored by Triplar Ltd Best Small Family Business Deaf Alerter PLC sponsored by RSA Family Business Longevity Weavers of Nottingham

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Community support

Generous gestures can’t be separated For both Cope Seeds and Robert Woodhead Ltd, good deeds are an integral part of how they function as businesses - so it was fitting that they became joint winners of the Commitment to the Community category at the Midlands Family Business Awards.


orporate social responsibility is a subject that’s received a greater profile in recent years and for a business to make a real difference in that area, a serious commitment is required - and an acceptance that it should become part of the company culture. That hasn’t been a problem at Cope Seeds and Robert Woodhead Ltd, whose long-standing support of their local communities meant they couldn’t be separated at the Midlands Family Business Awards. One of the UK’s largest suppliers of conventional and organic agricultural seed, Cope Seeds operates at a local, national and international level from its base in Sleaford. Chairman Trevor Cope runs the second-generation family firm with his daughter Gemma Clarke, who is Managing Director. She explained: “We are big believers in the idea that success needs to be shared, and success that isn’t shared is failure. We are committed to improving life in the local Sleaford community and supporting people living locally. “Every year we donate money to local sports clubs, as well as donating to and helping to organise a couple of events for the White Heather Club, a local organisation that is a lifeline to many elderly people in the area. We also encourage our staff to get involved in charitable work and offer money towards their fundraising efforts.”

over from his father Robert, the business supports its employees in their charity work by match-funding their efforts, even authorising time off for special projects.

Cope Seeds - Joint Winner Commitment to the Community Sponsored by: Shredall /SDS

Robert Woodhead - Joint Winner Commitment to the Community Sponsored by: Shredall /SDS

Based in Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire and operating in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, construction company Robert Woodhead specialises in the design, construction, refurbishment, conservation and repairs and maintenance of buildings. Run by David Woodhead, who took

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It also utilises an integrated local supply chain and David said: “Our CSR strategy focuses on three key areas: working to prevent homelessness, providing opportunities for young people and supporting local economies and communities.” “We sponsor and support networking events within the heritage and conservation sector, as well as lending support to local schools, colleges, universities and other organisations through social engagement, education and enrichment. A number of our staff are Construction Ambassadors and undertake commitments to deliver talks to students about the sector in which we operate.” Both companies were understandably delighted to see their efforts recognised, and Gemma added: “We were over the moon to win the award. It’s fantastic that we have been able to tell others about our work and have recognition for it. Hopefully it will encourage other businesses to do the same.”

Supporting the local community and economy is central to the working culture of cope seeds and Robert woodhead limited

Strong connections


Winner: Manufacturing Excellence Sponsored by: Crouch Logistics

in the black Swiftool Precision Engineering hit oil in 2013 with a major new contract for the oil and gas industry, as MD Stuart Handley explained.


ecuring the biggest contract in the company’s history ensured Swiftool Precision Engineering got 2013 off to a flying start, and winning the Manufacturing Excellence category at the Midlands Family Business Awards finished the year in style as well. Managing Director Stuart Handley runs the Nottinghamshire business alongside father Peter and has actively pushed expansion since joining in 2002. A total engineering solutions company specialising in high integrity parts and assemblies, Swiftool was founded in 1977 and initially focused on the design and manufacture of injection moulds for the plastics industry, press tools, jigs and fixtures for a variety of end users. From 1985 the company embarked upon a major change in direction to create a machining and specialist welding service to customers in the oil and gas, nuclear and defence markets.

In 2010, the company moved to a new £3 million, 30,000ft2 facility in Sutton in Ashfield, demonstrating the positive outlook that Stuart has promoted, which has in turn seen the staff numbers increase from 12 to 80 in the past 12 years. Stuart said: “Manufacturing is a cutthroat industry but we’ve always tried to ensure we are at the front of the pack when it comes to having the latest equipment and pursuing contracts. “In December 2012 we won a contract to design and develop a new stabplate system for GE Oil and Gas, an order worth £4.5m over two years. There are not many manufacturers in our sector who make to order and we were the only business qualified to make the product.” Stabplates form part of subsea distribution systems in oil and gas platforms. The GE Oil and Gas FLX360 improves corrosion resistance and connection reliability over multiple make/break cycles, while speeding up the actual connection time.

“Manufacturing is a cut-throat industry but we’ve always tried to ensure we are at the front of the pack when it comes to having the latest equipment” Stuart Handley The new design uses ROV-mounted tooling with a simple bayonet latch to hold the two plates together. Stuart added: “The FLX360 is going to be a huge project for Swiftool and GE, and we hope that it will really open up big opportunities for us once it’s live in the market. It’s the single-biggest contract we’ve ever had, and a massive boost to the company.” With such a prestigious contract secured, Stuart entered the Awards in the hope of generating some positive PR and was rewarded with victory in the Manufacturing Excellence category. He said: “The PR has been great for our profile and staff morale. It was a very pleasing award to receive.” The magazine from The Wilson Organisation


Midlands Family Business of the Year

The catalyst for success From humble beginnings, Midlands Family Business of the Year Belton Massey is now taking on some of the biggest names in the emissions-related exhaust piece industry - and winning. Matt Halfpenny visited the company headquarters to find out more.


ohn Massey will always remember his first day in the family business. When it just happens to be the same day as England won football’s World Cup, that’s pretty difficult to forget.

As Sir Alf Ramsey’s team were running out to face West Germany at Wembley on 31 July 1966, John was busy opening the newly-established BM Tyres, a single fast-fit centre in the Bulwell district of Nottingham, for the very first time. The company was formed by John’s dad Eric and his ‘guardian and uncle’ Alf Belton - hence the business’ current name - where he was employed to fit the tyres while mum Dotty took care of the books. “It was a Saturday and I remember it vividly,” recalls John.” We got the premises and stocked it all out before then, of course, but that was the first day we actually opened the doors. “We were going to stay open until 7pm, but because it was Cup Final day, and no-one turned up in the afternoon, we shut at five and went home. At least we got to see extra-time - and it was a rather a good day to remember as our first day!” Fortunately, at least for John and the business, things have panned out a whole lot differently since then. While the England team have never again hit those heady heights, the BM brand has become a leading force within its field. From those modest beginnings, Belton Massey, the current operation of which John is now Chairman, has expanded to enjoy sales of £21.5 million in 2012. Incredibly, the business now generates the £24,000 it turned over in its first

year of existence in just two hours. The early years saw steady growth to four fast-fit centres during the late 1970s but since moving into catalysts in 1998, initially ‘buying a couple off the internet’, things have really taken off. Today, Belton Massey is Europe’s largest independent manufacturer of catalytic converters, diesel particulate filters and front pipes for the aftermarket (meaning it supplies alternative, cost-effective replacements to those offered by dealerships) on light commercial vehicles and cars. Operating out of an 8,000m2 head office in Mansfield and a 5,500m2 factory in Huthwaite, acquired in 2001 and 2010 respectively, its product range of almost 7,500 fitments is sold in more than 30 countries across the globe, with exports accounting for more than 50 per cent of total revenue. John said: “I couldn’t have envisaged how things would have mapped out back then. But I suppose if you ask ‘Mr Tesco’, he wouldn’t have expected to grow from a corner shop to something that big either. “You take it in little chunks. When we first got an order for tyres, we’d probably only stock five sorts, so we’d get in a van and go and fetch one. Now we actually supply the people who used to supply our garages.” The business employs between 200 and 300 people, depending on the time of year, yet for all that progress, John, just two years short of a half-century of service, insists the core family values that served him so well when starting out are still critical. Son Toby is the third generation of Masseys to take the reins as Managing Director. His wife, Ania is head of

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“We are looking at it as a long-term project. If we look at machines that will give us an advantage but will not pay off for 10 years, it doesn’t matter to us” John Massey

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Midlands Family Business of the Year

500,000 + finished products manufactured by Belton Massey annually

with 90 per cent of components now made on their premises. As a result, all the parts needed to finish a unit are always in stock. That means orders can be completed on the same day - which provides a significant edge over rivals. “We are the only ones who have ever been at the ground level using these products, so we’ve built everything on the basis of knowing a customers’ difficulties, frustrations and expectations,” said Mark. “Our accessibility, together with our comprehensive range at a competitive price, are our USPs. Together with that, the standards we provide to the customer are very high.” Belton Massey first put themselves in the frame for a Midlands Family Business Award in 2012 and came up trumps straight away by winning the Manufacturing Excellence category. Suitably encouraged, the main award was the target this time around. “We were initially put in touch with Wilsons through a marketing agency and things snowballed from there,” said Mark. “The judging panel ask pertinent questions and want to have their say.

smith cooper’s Jackie Hendley presents the midlands family business of the year award to toby massey, mark blinston, ania massey and john massey Belton massey’s range of almost 7,500 fitments is sold in more than 30 countries

HR and both his sisters have worked for Belton Massey, while Commercial Director Mark Blinston is a close friend from school. It’s not just in the offices where the close relationships have benefited the business. On the shop floor, two generations of several families are working in tandem. Toby explained: “Being family-run, we can be more honest. And we are not in it for the short-term. “If you take a FTSE 100 company, a CEO can come in and think they have to build something in five years to get a bonus. We are looking at it as a longterm project. If we look at machines that will give us an advantage but will not pay off for 10 years, it doesn’t matter to us.”

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It’s not always been easy for Belton Massey, contending down the years with recessions, the miners’ strike, the Gulf and Falklands Wars, the devaluation of the pound, 20 per cent interest rates and the advent of strong competition - all of which have hit hard. But the ethos has always been to be proactive, whether that be through a flexibility to move into new sectors, innovation in product development or a willingness to invest both in internal infrastructure, including IT, and externally, such as in the use of foreign language expertise in a bid to capture new overseas markets. As the company has flourished, more and more of its manufacturing processes have been brought in-house,

“They really did want to know the small details about the product, not just the financials. We felt we had a strong case, but for other people who have been very successful to recognise the success of the business is confidence-building.” And the future for Belton Massey? Well, that’s all about consolidating its position in the UK and taking an even bigger market share overseas, particularly in Germany, France, the Benelux nations and Scandinavia. Mark said: “Other products are coming in as emission standards get tougher, so as long as we retain our high standards, things are looking bright.” So bright, that John Massey might even consider missing the early stages of English football’s most historic triumph all those years ago was a trade-off worth making.

Bright ideas


A systematic approach For Derbyshire-based John Bowler Group, winning the Business Innovation Award was recognition for the way it has made forward-planning a central theme throughout the past 33 years.


ith an inherent culture of thinking ‘outside of the box’, John Bowler Group’s success in the Business Innovation category of the Midlands Family Business Awards was a worthy reward for its continued foresight. The group, based at Hilton between Burton-on-Trent and Derby - is one the UK’s largest producers of free range eggs and uses its vast experience of the industry to offer a franchisestyle production system of free range eggs to anyone wishing to enter the market. A full turnkey operation considers all essential elements from planning and finances to site development, buildings and machinery. It was John Bowler who started the business 33 years ago and he remains involved in key management decisions. But it’s his daughter Lucie who now heads up day-to-day operations and in total there are 20 extended family members currently involved. In more recent times, the business has moved into the alternative energy market, initially as a way of reducing rising bills in the process of

businesses grow. Lucie was delighted by the Midlands Family Business Award success, which she believes will bring the company added kudos.

Winner: Business Innovation Sponsored by: PwC

its egg production. Bowler Energy now installs a range of solar panels and wind turbines, overseeing the process from initiation to completion and also providing a follow-up monitoring service. But it’s not an evolution into alternative energy that saw John Bowler Group triumph in Birmingham. Instead, it was victorious for setting up a bespoke client database system relating to egg production. That records all information about the franchise and is tailored specifically for each client, so they can log in anywhere, anytime and get an update. Additionally, it provides an important paper trail for the group and the client and gives ample room for future expansion as franchise

“Winning the Business Innovation Award gives us extra credibility and helps to demonstrate our position as leaders in our field,” she said. “The FBA has highlighted our work to other family businesses in the region and hopefully further afield with all the PR surrounding the awards - that can only be a good thing for us.” After hearing about the awards and The Wilson Organisation through an employee, the John Bowler Group decided to enter for the first time. That was to prove a prudent decision, as the staff involved found the awards night and judging process matched their own high standards of professionalism. Lucie added: “We were made to feel comfortable all the way through the process. Six people from the business attended the ceremony and it was a very interesting and well-organised event at a nice venue. “To go on and win has given the staff - and the family - a morale boost and it’s always nice to have your work recognised by others.”

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Piping in success

Eight wonders for A1 Recognition at the Midlands Family Business Awards was just the latest in a remarkable run of success for A1 Flue Systems.


he 40th anniversary of the founding of A1 Flue Systems has turned out to be extra special for members of staff, because they repeatedly found themselves in the spotlight over the course of the year.

examples of the bespoke stainless steel chimneys manufactured in the midlands by a1 flue systems

On no less than eight occasions during 2013, Director TJ Moir, who alongside John Hamnett took over the running of the business from father and founder Colin, stepped forward to collect awards. That staggering run was capped off at the Midlands Family Business Awards with Highly Commended recognition in both the Business Innovation and Family Business of the Year categories. Those awards reflect a determined

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attempt by A1 to push its marketing and PR forward as the company entered the international market, starting in the Middle East. Said TJ: “We’ve only recently decided to try to gain recognition for our achievements and are very proud to have won eight awards in the space of eight months. We have won Contractor of the Year, Manufacturing Excellence and several for Innovation, but the latest is the only one to recognise us as a family business. “There’s no doubt the recognition is a great PR tool and we’ve already had some good feedback following the awards from new contacts now recognising our name. It’s also good leverage for entering the international market, which is important to us.”

Highly Commended in two categories:

Family Business of the Year Sponsored by Smith Cooper

Business Innovation Sponsored by PwC

Recruitment reflection


first Awards entry proves driving force The maxim ‘it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part’ proved true for specialist recruitment company SOLOS Consultants. The Midlands Family Business Awards has been the catalyst for positive selfanalysis, according to Sales Director Shaun Witts.


he demands of running a family business can sometimes make it difficult for staff to set aside time to take stock of their achievements, but the Midlands Family Business Awards provided the ideal opportunity for SOLOS Consultants to do just that.

Colin Moir began A1 Flue Systems in 1973 working from an old chicken shed. Now the company operates from a purpose-built 55,000m2 factory, making bespoke stainless steel chimneys for commercial clients including famous UK landmarks like the Shard, the Gherkin and Buckingham Palace. “Each flue system is completely bespoke, designed to the specific requirements of individual clients,” explained TJ. “That, combined with our ability to deliver a complete service from planning and design right through to installation and after-sales care, and our persistence for improvement, means we are continuously developing the way we do things.”

Sales Director Shaun Witts, who set up the company 10 years ago with wife Helen Jones, brother Lee Witts and sister-in-law Nikki Wallis, submitted the company’s entry to the Best Small Family Business category, and as he explained, they found the process to be ‘extremely motivational’. He explained: “When you’re running a family business - particularly in tough economic times - your focus is generally on the day-to-day process. But working through the entry form made us take time out to review what we have done, how we have done it and how far we have come since 2003. “Going before the judging panel was nerve-wracking but we came out of the presentation absolutely buzzing. To be named as one of the finalists

“To be named as one of the finalists was a great boost to all the staff and we’ve had some lovely publicity” was a great boost to all the staff and we’ve had some lovely publicity on the back of that achievement.” SOLOS was formed as a specialist recruitment firm that in Shaun’s words ‘fills difficult and niche roles’, initially in the commercial sector and expanding into IT and other areas. The company places between 350500 temporary or contract workers every year and Shaun attributes its success to a strong emphasis on building and sustaining relationships with clients and candidates. Shaun is now aiming for the business to continue expanding and qualify for entry to the coveted Family Business of the Year category in the future, and added: “Being named as a Best Small Family Business finalist is a benchmark we want to build on.”

The magazine from The Wilson Organisation


Personal possessions insurance

What’s your bag worth? 01


The magazine from The Wilson Organisation



With more and more hi-tech gadgets and personal belongings to carry every day, it’s vital you have appropriate insurance cover. Let the experts at Wilsons give you that peace of mind...

Personal possessions insurance







hether you carry a handbag or man bag, it probably contains an array of gadgets and other valuable personal items. On average, we carry £2,000 worth of possessions, including a purse or wallet, smartphone, iPad, sunglasses, car keys and expensive pen... and that’s just the contents. Ros Urbanowicz, who leads the household team at Wilsons, is

encouraging clients to think about their personal possessions carefully. She said: “Many standard insurance policies don’t cover theft or loss of belongings outside the home. We advise our clients to consider a home insurance policy that covers all of their possessions on an ‘allrisks worldwide’ basis, so that their belongings are automatically covered when they are out and about, including travel abroad. “So many people arrange their home

and contents cover on the internet, unaware that such products may leave them under-insured, or in some instances not covered at all. “Our personal service ensures that we understand the cover our clients need. We have access to an unrivalled number of specialist insurers, with more extensive cover than available online. While it may not be as quick as completing an online form, it’s clearly better to be safe, than sorry.”

01 your man bag itself can be worth £100-£600 02 a mont blanc pen comes in at £150+ 03 An MP3 player and earphones could cost £300 04 ray-ban aviator sunglasses are valued at £200 05 designer handbags can be worth thousands 06 premium make-up drives up the value by £100 or more 07 a leather organiser could cost £100 to replace - not counting all your lost contacts! 08 Tablets and e-readers range in cost from £70-£659

The magazine from The Wilson Organisation


the case study A close-knit team with outstanding knowledge of the wine and spirits trade has ensured Weavers of Nottingham continues to thrive as one of the city’s oldest independent businesses - recognised with the special Longevity award at the Midlands Family Business Awards. Simon Cleaves got a taste of their unique set up.


ny independent business that has been in existence since 1844, and run by the same family since 1897, can justifiably claim to be successful.

Yet when Managing Director Alan Trease is asked to reveal the path to that Weavers’ success - how the wine and spirits merchant, now in the fifth generation of family ownership, has planned its growth - his answer comes as a surprise. “We don’t do long-term,” he said, with a laugh. “Most of it comes down to common sense. I have plenty of friends in business who did a lot of forecasting and planning which did not work out. “We’ve always kept a very tight ship, run a streamlined operation and maintained our position as specialists who treat wine as a serious drink. “The industry has changed in the past 20 or 30 years but we’ve been strong enough to decide not to try and compete with the supermarkets in stocking the more familiar brands.”

The magazine from The Wilson Organisation

Established in 1844 by Edward Cossal Weaver, the company started life as a Public House. In 1897, George Trease bought the business from Mr Weaver and under the watchful eye of Bill Trease, George’s grandson, it continued to trade as a Public House - and as a small wholesale wine and spirits merchant. In 1959, the Public House was sold and the company became dedicated wine merchants, remaining at 1 Castle Gate in the centre of Nottingham. Alan became the fourth generation of the family to join the business, and together with his father, grew the wholesale operation still further. Alan pinpointed 1990 as a year of two important milestones. First, it purchased the freehold on a large Georgian house, 100 yards up from the shop, which was renovated and is used as a home for wine tasting events. Also, he joined a buying group with 19 other merchants from across the country, enabling Weavers to buy exclusive lines at extremely competitive prices.


the delivery shoot dad built: 40 years on and wine stilldrops from street level to the atmospheric cellars on castle gate, down the shoot made by Alan trease in the 1970s.

With Alan’s daughter Mary and son Philip subsequently joining Weavers, the business has continued to evolve. Today, its website reaches customers nationwide, while the launch of the Wine Club six years ago has also played a significant part in the success story. “I didn’t put any pressure on Philip or Mary to join and they both spent time working for companies outside the trade before vacancies at Weavers came up. Hopefully that time in other business environments has given them experiences and ideas that have enabled us to keep moving forward,” added Alan. “We’re positive about the future and again, it’s all about common sense, keeping things simple and doing what we do well. We have a good team spirit and our staff take a real pride in being part of Weavers. Operating as a small, independent and quirky business offers us the biggest opportunity to carry on succeeding.”

Drinking well in 2014 For the informed readers of illuminate, here are three less well known wines that will impress your friends at dinner parties this year... the good people at weavers have put together a very special illuminate-readers’ mixed case, which you can view on the weavers of nottingham website or follow the qr code below. enter the password ‘illuminate’, and enjoy!

english oak engelmann cuvée, dorset deliciously creamy sparkling wine - a great example of why english sparkling wine is so highly regarded these days. £ 25.68 *price per bottle as part of a mixed case of six bottles

painted wolf - the den chenin blanc, coastal region, 2012 a weavers favourite. very well textured on the palate, creamy apple flavour dominates with a hint of citrus on a crisp finish. £ 9.24

terra d’alter alfrocheiro, alentejano, 2012 a star performer ever since we brought it back from portugal two years ago, redolent of black cherries and soft red fruits. £ 9.96

The magazine from The Wilson Organisation


At your service

defending your corner

Life has turned full circle for Julie Downes, who is now back with Wilsons - where she launched her career after leaving college some 22 years ago.


ith the need for PI greater than ever, Julie Downes has been a busy member of the Wilsons’ team since returning to the business as its Professional Indemnity Specialist last January. “It has been great to return to Wilsons and to Nottingham,” said Julie. “It feels as though I never left because there are so many familiar faces and everyone has made me feel so welcome. “Wilsons is a great place to work and the very low turnover of staff only goes to support that. I can think of at least 10 people that were with the company when I first started here 22 years ago.”

“Don’t forget that clients can, and sometimes do, make spurious claims. A PI policy will meet your defence costs to defend the claim.” Governing bodies have always required the traditional professions to comply with their minimum cover requirements, but now contracting clients and other emerging professions are commonly being asked to show evidence of PI, in order to satisfy customer/contractual requirements. In addition, there is also a change in general society’s more litigious nature. So what does a PI policy actually cover? A PI policy provides for financial loss and/or alleged financial loss, arising out of negligent professional advice and/or design/specification. The cover also provides for legal defence costs and expenses incurred. “It is often the case that the legal defence costs and expenses are the only settlement, but these can frequently run into thousands of pounds,” Julie warned. “Don’t forget that clients can, and sometimes do, make spurious claims.

A PI policy will meet your defence costs to defend the claim.” Wherever possible, your professional indemnity policy should be arranged on the basis that the Excess does not apply to legal defence costs and expenses to give you the widest cover available and the added peace of mind. I am not a Professional, so why do I need PI cover? Many businesses feel they have no exposure to PI claims, as they don’t consider themselves to be a ‘professional’. For example, they don’t provide any professional services. It is often the case however, that these same companies do offer professional services that are subcontracted out to other professionals with their own PI. “It is understandable that these businesses feel they have no exposure, but unfortunately they do still have a contingent exposure. They remain the first port of call and in the event that there are any issues with the insolvency/bankruptcy or under-insurance of the professional consultants appointed, the first port of call may be left responsible for meeting the claim. On a positive note, the cost of their cover should not be high, as contingent PI is rated more competitively, to reflect the lower risk.” Can you help me with my PI cover? As a specialist in her field, Julie is perfectly placed to discuss any queries you may have regarding your PI exposure. She added: “I am always happy to help individuals and businesses ensure they have the most comprehensive, cost effective cover for the risks they face. Whether your existing policy is due for renewal, or you’re concerned that you don’t currently have PI cover in place, just get in touch.”

You can contact Julie Downes at or by calling 0115 942 0111.

The perfect match Businesses targeting growth in 2014 must first tackle the problem of a skills shortage among workers, according to John Robinson, director of national recruitment agency Thorn Baker. But John also believes that with the expertise and support Thorn Baker offers, companies are well placed to move forward and take advantage of the positive economic forecasts. “We are geared up for growth,” he explained. “We are a barometer industry for the wider economy and the crash was a challenging period for us and business in general, but the situation is changing for the better. “In the last five years, we have been in a job-driven market: if you were seeking work and a job came up, you would invariably take it and companies felt they had the pick of good candidates. But it is now turning into a candidate-driven market, and the war for talent is definitely on. “For example, in construction around 180,000-200,000 skilled workers have left the industry in that period - and are not likely to return in a hurry. This will create huge structural problems as the country recovers and the old adage ‘good people are hard to find’ will hold true. “Fortunately we’ve been here before and have prepared for the problems we know our clients will face. Our staff all have strong, long-standing relationships with clients, and these help ensure that we can find and match the right candidates to the right job.” John was one of three founding directors of Thorn Baker in July 1988, and has seen the business grow to an annual turnover of around £20m, with offices across the UK, including Bristol, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Thorn Baker has been a long-standing client of The Wilson Organisation, and John said: “Wilsons has looked after our insurance needs for more than 20 years, and has always provided an excellent service.”

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F43 06-13 Issue 1 F43 06-13 Issue 1

Midlands Family Business Awards Winner: Outstanding Contribution 2012

Auto enrolment

are you running out of time?

The demand for high quality support and assistance is increasing - if you haven’t already put your plans in place for auto enrolment, you need to act quickly. Wilsons’ specialist pensions team can help you to prepare, whether you are creating a new plan or adapting your existing one, and provide expert advice on how to comply with the new legislation.

Don’t let auto enrolment become a risk Contact Ian Baguley on 0115 9420 111 or email

illuminate #8 - the magazine from The Wilson Organisation  

100 years of innovation!

illuminate #8 - the magazine from The Wilson Organisation  

100 years of innovation!