Neil Stevenson joined his father’s business in 1991 and took over the family business in the late 1990s.
“I followed an engineering career straight from university but, after completing my graduate scheme, I decided to join the family business. My father was running several ventures and so we had a somewhat unstructured handover of the reins over a 7-year period.
“At Double H Nurseries, we grow flowering house plants, package them for gifts and supply to them to supermarkets all over the UK. Our business has completely transformed in the last 25 years. Distribution was much more localised back then through florists and garden centres but as supermarkets began to take over the retail landscape, we began to sell to them in large quantities and they would distribute across their networks for us.
“In the last decade, we had invested heavily in the most modern house plant production facilities in the UK and we were voted Bedding and Pot Plant Grower of the Year in 2009. But despite all of our innovations and efficient manufacturing practices, in 2013 the business made a £400,000 operating loss and I could see that we needed to make changes to get back into profit and that it would take a strategic facilitator to help us identify what those changes might be.”
Meeting an ActionCOACH
“One of my friends is an ActionCOACH business coach but he lives too far away and, so, I was recommended Kevin Stansfield. I realised that I knew him 25 years ago when he had worked for the firm of accountants that we employ. It was great to know that he already had some knowledge of our business before we started.”
The Results So Far
“In the past 18 months, I’ve stepped away significantly from day-to-day work in the business which means that I’ve had to fill that gap through my managers stepping up and, in turn, they’ve had to delegate more to their teams. Before the coaching started, I was working more than 50 hours a week in the business. Kevin got me to set personal objectives as well as those for the business and one of mine was to have a better work-life balance. In addition, I have a firmer plan of succession and retirement and I’m on track to achieve that.
“By working smarter, my time working ON the business now makes a real difference and our progress is clear. We have gone from a £400,000 loss in 2013 to £800,000 profit in 2015 and we are on track to hit our £1 million target in 2016! In the last 2 years sales have risen by 20% to nearly £25m and to do this we have only had to increase our workforce by 5% to 160. Another great indicator of our return to financial health is that, in the last 12 months, we have repaid loans of £560,000, which is a great situation to be in.”