Family affair weathers storm

Jackie Mathers

Jackie Mathers

First published in Business columnists by

The world news isn't giving business owners much to be cheerful about this month, but I was both heartened and extremely impressed when I visited one of York’s largest family-owned businesses recently to see a firm that has weathered the storm - despite relying on the construction sector for a significant proportion of its business - and is actively investing to ensure future growth and retain its position at the forefront of its market.

It hasn't been an easy process, and ensuring Portakabin's survival has required some difficult decisions from the management team. What filled me with pride was touring a manufacturing business that is also a household name, hearing exciting plans for growth and reminding myself that there are other businesses just like it, both here in York and throughout the wider Yorkshire region.

Having global brands on our doorstep that are committed and actively contributing to the future prosperity of the city is something we can - and should - be immensely proud of.

Local companies that are successful in the UK and overseas are great news for York, but also a good barometer for the wider economy.

And what also struck me this month is just how simple good businesses make it look. A strong product or service that meets a real need, delivered well by a team that believes in its value is a recipe for success, but the thing that sets great businesses apart is the ability to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.

That's something most business owners can relate to in the current economic climate, and those who are prepared to step up to the plate, up-skill themselves and their teams and make those difficult decisions for the long term good of their business are the ones we'll still be talking about and proud of in the years to come.

know we have those people in abundance here in York and Yorkshire - surely that's one reason to be cheerful?

Jackie Mathers is Dean of the Business School at York St John University

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