Third Generation At The Helm
Lamberts was founded in 1963 by the Grandfather of the current Managing Director, Trina Beare, back in 1963. Paul Andrews spoke to Trina to find out more of their journey as a family firm.
Henry Beare founded the business and started what has been a stalwart of the Norwich business community ever since. During the war he was responsible for setting up radar stations on the east coast and worked in Norwich for a business that sold bricks and mortar products before taking on the responsibility for selling ancillary products within the same company prior to setting out on his own in 1963. His son, Trina’s father, Tim, who studied science at St Andrews University and worked elsewhere until joining the family firm in 1973 when his father invited him to join the company. The first transition was not an easy one, as is often the case with family firms, where the founder who had the vision finds it hard to let go and step back. For Trina, the lessons learned in that first transition were the catalyst for a different approach when she got involved and her father, and the strength of their relationship as father and daughter, made it easier.
Trina pursued an education of her own studying business at University before getting married and having a family of her own before considering employment and she was fortunate to be looking for work when the business had a role in the purchasing department at Lamberts.
As Trina explains, “It was a real learning curve for me as I was young and had never worked before so I was shy and didn’t even want to answer the phone but the role fitted around me being a Mum and juggling responsibilities and I was able to gain a great insight into the business too. Over time, as the kids moved from nursery to school and their school days got longer, I was able to work longer hours and get more involved too, doing some marketing, IT and even selling out on the road too.”
Trina grew in confidence and gained great experience into all aspects of the business and then one day her Dad called her into the office to tell her something. As Trina continues, “Dad and I have a great relationship but he had not been well and had clearly been considering his future and that of the business and there and then he made me a Director of the business. Up until this point I was not sure what I was going to do so considered the offer and decided that it was the right opportunity for me and that I was prepared to become the third generation of the family to run the business.”
The business had grown but when Trina became a director the existing management team were of an age where they were considering their futures and as the business with an ageing management team was not attractive to external buyers, the next stage in the family business journey was decided and Trina stepped into the lead role.
Changes followed which were not welcome by everyone involved but Trina pursued the need for innovation and growth and continued to make a positive impact on the business, bringing in her own management team as others decided it was no longer for them.
One of the longest serving employees, Neill Ives, who had been a loyal servant to Trina’s father, became an integral part of the management team and id due course was promoted to Joint Managing Director alongside Trina. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and Neill and Trina both appreciate the journey that they have been on.
As Trina adds, “When I took on the business there were 47 staff and they had been with the business a number of years. I had to look at the business, where we were going, and create my team and the culture that I wanted within the business too. Neill and I have worked closely over the years to go back to basics, embed the family values and our philosophy into the business and bring in people to work with us that share our goals. There have been challenges along the way, like there are in other family firms, but we have done what we set out to do and created a business that embodies all that we stand for.”
Trina is a great example of a leader that knows what she wants and that recognises the need to build a core team around her to deliver the vision, something that is evident the moment you enter the business.
Engaged and empowered staff who are continuing the legacy of a business that was created sixty years ago, focused on the needs of their customers and being true to their underlying family values.
Trina and Neill know only too well the importance that strong family values can play in the success of a business and continue to embrace these values as they drive forward the next chapter in the journey of the family business.
Many family firms struggle when they get to the third generation for a number of reasons, not least due to poor communication, lack of shared purpose and a growing shareholder base but for Trina, there are a number of core reasons as to why Lamberts have been successful:
1. Being an independent business means that you can react quickly to challenges by making and acting on decisions at speed.
2. Working as part of a small, close-knit organisation offers an environment that nurtures clear communication from management. Staff feel valued and engaged meaning loyalty is high. Over 50% of our team at Lamberts has been with us for 20 years or more and has over 400 years of combined service.
3. Customer loyalty is high when a business has been in the same family for multiple generations. The customers know who you are, often personally, so keep coming back, while recommending you to their own family and friends. Trust in the reliability and quality of products and services comes when customers know that they are, and always have been, the top priority of a business and that they are in safe hands.
4. Over the years you become a part of the local community, building relationships and trust with local people and customers. They want to see you succeed and invest in your success by using your products and services.
5. Multi-generational family businesses will have weathered many storms so can call on previous situations and challenges in the history of the business for advice and guidance. The foundations put down by the generations in the past help to sustain the business for the future.
Today, Lamberts remains an Independent Industrial Distributor which strives to maintain the best traditions of personal service, coupled with the efficiencies gained from advanced technology. As a business they have continued to invest in delivering to customers, constantly in their people and computer technology that has resulted in a Single Sourcing supply package that is unique to their operation, and ensures in-depth knowledge of their extensive product range, which includes Pipes, Valves, Fittings, Hand Tools, Powers Tools, Fasteners, Lubricants, Workwear and Safety Wear.
Trina is rightfully proud of the journey that she has been on and the impact that she has had in shaping Lamberts into the business that it is today. As she concludes, “The journey has not always been easy and there have been plenty of challenges but it fills me with pride that the business started by my grandfather sixty years ago this year is still delivering a first class service to our customers and is continuing as a family business. Our name is recognised locally and we take pride in the role that we continue to play by providing employment to local people. We take out responsibility seriously too. We are proud of where we have come from and are looking positively to the next chapter in the Lamberts journey too.”
Find out more by visiting their website here