Sunday 25 September 2016

'Have a plan in place for when the worst happens - you won't have time when you're in crisis'

Stephen Acheson is managing director of Acheson & Glover

Stephen Acheson

Published 29/05/2016 | 02:30

Stephen Acheson: “Never rest on your laurels or underestimate the pace of change
Stephen Acheson: “Never rest on your laurels or underestimate the pace of change"

'We started as a family business and remain so today. Because of that, we have always held the commitment to our people and service at our core.

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"While it is essential to have a great product, it is only one part of the jigsaw, and you must back it up with excellent service. Treat your customers as you would wish to be treated yourself. Never be afraid to admit when you have screwed up. Every dispute or problem can actually lead to an opportunity, if you deal with things in a decent and honest way.

"Never rest on your laurels or underestimate the pace of change. Industry moves so quickly now - what worked before will not necessarily work in the future.

"As managing director of one of the largest independent building materials manufacturers in the UK and Ireland, our sector is more competitive than ever. Companies in the industry that survived the recession have all upped their game - you need to be leaner, with tighter operations and a reduced cost base to be well placed to benefit from the return of economic confidence.

"Get the right team around you and you can accomplish great things. We employ around 400 people across eight locations and each person plays a vital role. Your team members must all be committed to following the same strategy and be supportive of each other, yet still able to challenge you when necessary. Finding that right blend is difficult but crucial so it needs to be a priority. Even having one person not 'bought in' can derail the best-laid plans.

"Although you can't predict the future you should prepare for the unexpected as much as possible. Have a plan in place for when the worst happens - as you won't have time when you are in the middle of a crisis. Keep fully abreast of what's happening in your market and regularly challenge your assumptions on what any changes will mean.

"And don't stop learning. The construction industry can be conservative, so I often look to other industries for ideas. It's crucial to meet people and network, turn off the laptop, put the phone to silent and get out of the office!"

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