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Why You Can’t Rest On Your Laurels. The Third Generation Business

As a third generation business, it would be wrong to rest on the past and become complacent as we approach 2020.

MQ Metal Fabrication has been active since 1962. However, in order to be relevant today, the company has to continually evolve.

From Arnold Poulton (in the picture above), to Anthony, the family business is now controlled wholly by Jack. According to Forbes, less than one-third of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation ownership. Another 50% don’t survive the transition from second to third generation. The transition of MQ over the years, whilst challenging, is now in a more competitive place.

Whilst there is the belief that a family business means that, ‘there is always a place for you here,’ it didn’t start that way. Jack never intended to become part of the MQ business. From 15 to 21 he was a barristers’ clerk and was one of the youngest second junior clerks within the industry.

“The conversation started, where I was looking for a change,” commented Jack. “There was an ongoing discussion between my dad and myself and I decided, over ten years ago, to join the family business.”

“I started within the window department and grew that division. It has only been within the past couple of years where I have taken sole ownership of the business.”

 

Where Are The Biggest Changes

A company that began over fifty years ago, has to continually evolve and react to the changing nature of the marketplace. One the biggest differences has been the scope of contracts and the scale of projects.

Jack highlighted, “We are now working on projects in excess of £2m. This was something that simply would not have happened ten years ago. This is due to a committed focus on the metal work side of the business. The more you lean into an area of specialism, over time, the reputation grows and conversations develop and build.”

“The projects have always been there, we just didn’t go for it. You could say that in the eyes of others, the track record was not as consistent as it could have been. Where the business formerly won smaller contract work, we are now committed to much larger projects and tenders from developers to facilities maintenance companies.”

 

Where Are The Challenges For The Immediate Future

When it comes to the immediate challenges, proving to others that MQ can work on large scale metal fabrication projects is where the focus lies.

Trust is key. Not just on the relationships built with customers, but trusting yourself. Jack explains, “You can’t accept that you have a given right to step into a family member’s shoes and just pick up a baton and run with it. You have to trust yourself and the decisions that you make. As the buck now stops with me, I have to be 100% confident that the company is heading in the right direction as a trusted metal fabrication resource. The make or break of a company that has been established for over half a century, sits with me.”

 

Trust Is Key

Providing the teams responsibility is a something that Jack firmly believes in.

Trust is the currency of today. Whilst the industry is extremely competitive, the relationships companies build is critical to their success. Jack explains, “When you are looking to win a project and you start from zero this is a more challenging place to be. By this, I mean limited rapport, not much familiarity and no connection that opened the initial dialogue. Within the new build, education and social housing we have grown strong alliances.”

With the company origins from the 1960s, having strong values are still strong today. Jack, highlighted the biggest value being having a sense of openness and communication with others. “I believe today you need to be 100% transparent both with customers, but also with the internal teams. For instance, the MQ Metal Fabrication office is open plan, we all share the same space. Naturally, some conversations have to be private, but if we are open and honest with each other, this is how it is reflected in every touchpoint with the business.”