NIGEL Welch, chief executive of Welcom Software, is a silicon chip off the old block.

The multi-award-winning business solutions specialist firm in Harrogate owes its beginnings 27 years ago to Nigel's dad, Barry, a former systems analyst for the Ford motor company in the pioneering days of computers.

Barry, now retired, started up Digital Dynamics, the forerunner of Welcom, as a software reselling venture based in Manchester and Harrogate. Nigel followed in his carefully circuited footsteps.

In the third of his four year Computing in Business degree course at Huddersfield Polytechnic, Nigel had his work experience at the Manchester office.

"I became addicted to it and in my final year I worked there as a programmer while studying for my exams, " he says.

Then his dad's partner wanted out. Barry bought half of his share and Nigel the other half so that his equity of the re-named company - 'Digital Dynamics was so hard to say' - was 25 per cent.

That is the way it stayed until two years ago when Barry retired and Nigel completed a management buy-out, with Barry retiring as a non-executive director.

The fact that at the relatively young age of 44 - he is 46 now - he became owner of a by-now huge and thriving business with a 56-strong team powering a £3.7 million turnover, is a source of great pride to Nigel, who has not only moved the business into sleek new offices in Station Parade, but also invested £200,000 in new technology.

Another great source of pride is that Welcom became the first IT company in Yorkshire to achieve the Investors In People leadership and management model accreditation, quite apart from a string of other awards.

These include retaining its Progress Through People title in The Press Business Awards in November, and also scooping the Large Business of the Year category.

It was also awarded highly commended status in the City & Guilds Employer of the Year category of the Orange Business Awards last year. "I am absolutely wedded to this business, " Nigel says.

All this is testament to how he has brought his business skills to the technology of his venture. As boss, he has produced for his staff a Relationship Agreement - a treaty outlining a new way of working in partnership, signed by every employee. These, along with a Teamwork and Responsibility Guide which details individual, team and community responsibilities, were not mere gimmicks.

They worked, as the bottom line improvement testifies.

It also created the springboard to go on the acquisition trail. "We are talking with one party in the North which employs about 20 people and does more front-of-office type work than we do, so it is a good fit. We hope to complete the deal by April, " he says.

But yes, there have been frustrations - particularly with the Government which he resents for 'having introduced 30,000 pieces of business legislation over the past two terms of its office.' But generally speaking, he lives a happy and fulfilled life with his wife, Karen, and their two children, Edward, 13, and Emily, ten - plus guinea pigs, fish and beloved puppy - at their home in Marton-le-Moor, near Boroughbridge. He also has a luxurious Mercedes S Class car 'which does what you tell it to do in difficult situations, ' he says, but that does not stop him dreaming of an Aston Martin Vanquish. There is always another goal to attain.'

Which job (other than your own) would you like to have and why?

It would be something completely different from software - A wine taster in Stellenbosch, South Africa. What a life that would be - fine wine on tap and a warm, sunny climate.

Greatest achievement?

Owning and running a successful business at the tender age of 44.

Biggest mistake?

Buying my daughter a puppy - whilst a delightful addition to my family, it does appear to have taken over our life.

What makes you most angry?

The Labour Government for the increased burden of legislation, increased taxation and its constant spin of things old or bad into new and good.

What makes you laugh?

Have I Got News For You

What fools do you suffer least?

People who don't tell it as it is. I've learnt in business that I'd much rather hear about a problem and help to resolve it, than have it brushed under the carpet in the hope that it will go away.

Whom do you most admire and why?

Richard Branson - he sees what he wants and goes for it, he's always prepared to take a risk, and is not afraid of failure. That alongside a good business mind has helped him be the success that he is today.

What do you need to make life complete?

An Aston Martin Vanquish. That along with my wife, children and dog would make my life complete.

How do you relax?

Watching the Grand Prix.

Why do you make a difference?

I love what I do, I strive to succeed and am always prepared to learn from others.

Name the organisation you see as the perfect one and why

The National Trust - for its clear values, ethical practices and a great cause preserving our cultural heritage and our environment.

Favourite record?

Beautiful Day by U2

Favourite holiday destination?

Egypt - find something you like and keep going back. Naturally the children also have a say in this matter!

Your epitaph

"A hard act to follow"