Bringing the Family back into Business

13 May
John and matthew Garratt of Cumbria O&M Services

Bringing the Family back into Business

There are many advantages to running a family-owned business, such as the development of vision and long-term goals, commitment and unified leadership, trust and authenticity and next-generation ingenuity.  Nowhere is this truer than at Cumbria O&M Services Ltd, which is run by not one, but two families and generations.

The business was started in early 2014 by Cliff Woodman, Dave Garratt and their wives Karen and Anita.  The two businessmen had been working as contractors in the industry and identified a gap in the market which complimented their respective backgrounds in maintenance and asset management.

Cliff, comments,

“Being friends and former colleagues, the two families had the trust and respect for all our individual strengths and weaknesses, as such we were able to identify the most appropriate roles for the four of us to undertake.”

In 2018 Dave and Anita made the decision to retire but decided to hand over the reins to their sons, John and Matthew, who took over their respective positions within the business in February 2019 and thus keeping the business in the Garratt family.

John and Matthew took on the roles previously held by their parents as Finance & Security Director and Commercial & HSE Director.  They both previously worked from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary on the Sellafield site.

Although both John and Matthew enjoyed their old job, they wanted a new challenge and their dad explained how good of an opportunity it would be if they came and worked for him at COMS. They both understood it would be a steep learning curve as this wasn’t either of their backgrounds, but they accepted the challenge.

John enjoyed working on the management accounting side of the company and has spent the last few years learning how everything works at COMS; making some changes and improvements over time.  He has also recently completed a degree apprenticeship in BSc Management & Leadership through the University of Cumbria and will this year be undertaking an end point assessment with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) looking to become a Chartered Manager.

Matthew, took on the Health and Safety role as he was already first aid trained and took an interest in managing COMS HSE requirements once his dad retired. Over the last two years he has learnt the responsibilities of the HSE Director and how this business currently maintains a safe working environment for all COMS personnel.  Matthew has recently achieved a (credit) NEBOSH general certificate in Occupational Health and Safety, which is an internationally recognised qualification.

There is no stopping the team at COMS and the two families certainly seem to complement each other.  As well as John & Matthew taking on the director roles their parents previously held, Cliff’s daughter Louise is undertaking a modern apprenticeship in business administration with the firm and sister-in-law Alison provides business support activities; so, it really is a two family operation.

By making significant investments and improvements in the business, COMS has continued to grow and 2020 is no exception with an increase in turnover of 10% in otherwise very uncertain times.

The team hopes they can continue to grow sustainably while expanding their range of clients in terms of industries served and geographic locations, including collaborating with like minded SME’s to meet and exceed clients expectations.