Phone: 01827 280 080
Job Title: Managing Director
Company: Grafton International,
Jon is the son of the company’s founders Pat & Gareth. With a wife, Sarah, and 2 daughters, Daisy & Lily, he always has a ready opinion at hand for new products….
Grafton International distributes unique and effective beauty brands found from all over the World. Their products can be found on the high street in retailers such as Boots, Superdrug or Primark and also in thousands of top spas and beauty salons across the UK.
Grafton International are responsible for introducing your family to Carmex lip balms, Rose & Co bath and body products and Orly nail colours and possibly some other brands that you haven’t noticed.
FiB gives us access to high quality people with a broader perspective. It's very refreshing.
How long have you been working in the family business?
I joined in 1993, straight after graduating in Accounting and Economics
What inspires or drives you?
I'm driven by success and the desire to be excellent in everything we do as a business. That means constantly striving for better in each area of the business. I’m inspired by my parents who established the company and other great people that I see and read of making great accomplishments in business, art and culture
What generation are you?
2nd generation, the company was established in 1985 by my parents, Pat and Gareth. After returning to the UK from living abroad, my Mum couldn’t find some of the great beauty products she’d loved using. She knew other people would love using them too so she opened up Graftons to make it happen
What do you think makes a family business special or different from a non-family business?
Family businesses are different from the core outwards. I believe they’re able to take a much longer term view of investing and developing the business. Family businesses really do care about their team and treat individuals with the correct level of respect. This tends to keep staff with the business for longer, expertise is built up and so the service to customers is really high, creating a virtuous circle.
What, if anything, prepared you for entering the family business?
Graftons was created around our kitchen table when I was in my teens. I loved being able to see and hear what my parents' plans were and sometimes to be involved. In all elements of family life, whenever necessary our family roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. So when business was busy or I just had some free time, I'd help pack orders, organise records, etc. That experience still sets the scene for something we expect from every member of the team today - to get stuck in as needed, when needed.
What has been, or is, your biggest challenge for either you or the business?
The biggest challenge has been to grow the business. When I started there were 4 of us plus my parents. Now we have a team of 75 people which is great progress. There's a lot more to be done. For me personally, the biggest challenge has been steering the company through this recession. We've come through it very well now and are on to the next stage of growth.
Why do you feel a community to support family businesses is so important?
Family businesses have different advantages and challenges to other businesses. It's wonderful to share experiences and issues with other people who completely get your situation. One of the challenges family businesses face is that our knowledge is often limited to our own experience and FiB gives us access to high quality people with a broader perspective. It's very refreshing.
What advice would you give to someone joining their family business?
The most common issues I've seen in family business, mine included, is a lack of balance between separation of duties. Too often a dominant family member won't let other family members have reasonable control over their area of work. Equally, the reverse happens where family members guard their area and have little communication or transparency with the rest of the family and business. I'd advise anyone joining a family business to work hard at getting the family to behave like a team and not a dysfunctional family.
What would you like to see change/improve with the service professional advisers (lawyers, banks, accountants, etc) provide to family businesses?
I’d like to see service providers and advisers consider the areas they can help develop their clients’ businesses by using their knowledge and insight. I’d like them to put on workshops for groups of their clients on these topics. This will develop the client, assist networking with other companies, create opportunities for more revenue and build a relationship with the client which is truly deep.
What do you hope your legacy/or the family business legacy will be?
I hope we’ll have created a business with a fantastic service that customers love and an ethos and working style which our employees will enjoy and be proud of. As we supply lip balms, bath products and nail polish our legacy had better be some sweet-smelling people enjoying a little extra pleasure every day too.