A family affair
Published: 08 Dec 2015
A family business can be fraught with tension, but an Aberdeen firm has found that the trust and understanding can have a positive effect on relatives working together.
Greenwell Equipment managing director Mark Turnbull, and his sister Julie, set up the business in 1998 with the assistance of their father Richy Turnbull.
Store manager Derek Robertson, who has been with Greenwell for three years, recently employed his son, William, 18, after he finished his mechanical engineering course at Aberdeen College.
And lastly, Zbigniew Biorka, who has been working for Greenwell Equipment on the furniture installation team for 10 years, works alongside his 18-year-old son Mateus.
Mr Robertson, 49, is responsible for the day to day running of the busy warehouse and container yard, preparing racking and shelving orders for clients as well as assembling flatpack modular buildings.
He said: “Working with your son can be frustrating at times, but we know each other so well I know that I can trust William to achieve the high standards that we set here at Greenwell.”
William added: “It’s great to be given the opportunity to work in a busy company and gain real hands-on experience. I feel comfortable being able to ask my dad anything at all, as I know he will find time to help me and teach me.”
Mr Biorka, 38, finds that working with his son helps him in his role as they already have a strong sense of trust.
“As we know each other so well, we work well together as a team,” he added.
Mateus, who has recently come to the UK to join his father after living with his grandparents in Poland, said: “I was keen to get involved in business and so I am happy to be able to learn alongside my father.”
MD Mark, 43, has worked alongside his father, Richy, 66, since he was a teenager.
He said: “My dad has always taught me that hard work pays, and we instil that sentiment in all of our staff at Greenwell.
“We are a small team and so good communication and appreciation of each other is vital to the smooth running of the business. It’s no accident that we employ families – we know it can work. Father and sons working together don’t have to worry about getting to know a new colleague as they already know them inside out.
“Within a family, if you are lucky, there exists a loyalty which cannot be broken.”
Mark’s father, Richy, who is still actively involved in the daily business of Greenwell, added: “It is important to have clear lines of communication and everyone be aware of each other’s responsibilities.
“The key to a successful family business is keeping the work at work and the family at home. When we get together at the weekends, we are a normal family unit, with the work – mostly – left at the office.”
Mark’s top tips for families working together:
Focus on each other’s strengths – you know the weaknesses already so concentrate on the positives
Show the same respect as you would for a co-worker – leave the teasing at home
Keep it legal – get contracts in writing as you would with any employee
Be clear about roles – avoid stepping on each other’s toes
Keep business chat to the office and don’t take it home – keep family time separate