Kirsty Davies-Chinnock - PPS
Kirsty Davies-Chinnock - PPS
FIB Champion

Email: admin@professionalpolishing.co.uk

Phone: 0121 555 6569

Job Title: MD
Company: Professional Polishing Services 
 
Introduction:
Kirsty is MD for Professional Polishing Services. PPS are the U.K.’s premier stainless steel polishing company.
With specialist knowledge of finishes suitable for the nuclear, pharmaceutical and architectural industries they are ideally placed within the UK to give both practical and technical advice to engineers, specifiers and stock-holders.
 
In addition to her role within the family business, Kirsty is Chair of the Women in Business Association
 
“There are some issues that you just can’t talk about within the business and the family…”

How long have you been working in the family business?
I joined PPS in 1989 for 6 weeks – and have been here ever since. Like many other family business, a lot of the board meetings take place in a family environment outside the workplace.

What inspires or drives you?
Responsibility is the basis for my drive; to my employees, my co-directors, our customers and suppliers. Inspiration is a lot harder – there are so many people who have inspired me along the way. I am also very competitive so when someone does inspire me my next thought is “How can be better than them?”

What generation are you?
I’m second generation – taking over from my father. In the early days I did have to explain that: Yes, I do have a brother and, No, he is not part of the business. I am lucky enough to have someone who had faith in my ability and who didn’t consider gender an issue in succession. Not so much an issue now but it certainly was in the 1980’s.

What do you think makes a family business special or different from a non-family business?
I would hazard a guess that most SME’s are ‘family businesses’ – even if it is just one member of a family owning it! We are, usually, smaller than large corporations and so we can see and feel the grass roots within our companies. When you have been to your employee’s weddings and congratulated them on a new baby arriving they become part of your extended family. It goes back to responsibility – I have a huge responsibility to them and their families.

What prepared you for entering the family business?
Absolutely nothing as I was planning a career in law! One thing that did come out of it very quickly is that I have a very unique relationship with Pete, our founder and my father. For a start I call him ‘Pete’ and have done since we started working together. We are very good friends and colleagues but we certainly don’t have a father/daughter relationship. I actually think we are very lucky to have been able to develop a relationship together that has gone past this – valuing each other for who we are.

What has been, or is, your biggest challenge for either you or the business?
2008-2009 was a huge challenge. We made some redundancies although were able to re-employ the majority six months later. We also closed a smallercompany we owned in the North. It was very, very painful to go through these processes – particularly when I made my brother-in-law redundant. For me, having to take these actions, even though they were the right thing to do to secure the future of the Company, made me feel as though I had failed. I had let down the very people who depended on me.

Why do you feel a community to support family businesses is so important?
There are some issues that you just can’t talk about within the business and the family. For example, I may have some issues that I won’t talk to my husband about because he works for me and as such shouldn’t be privy to these details. Likewise, my parents are retired, although still maintain an active interest in the business, and so I feel very strongly that they should be enjoying their retirement after years of hard work so I won’t want to talk to them about some issues or problems. It’s up to me to x any problems, and whilst they are certainly there for support and advice it’s my job and I certainly shouldn’t be causing concern to those who have passed the torch.
 
What would you like to see change/improve with the service professional advisers (lawyers, banks, accountants, etc) provide to family businesses?
I think over the last ten years a lot has changed. SMEs are getting more recognition as being invaluable to the economy – and we’re actively being courted by service advisers who want to see us succeed and who appreciate that they need us as clients to run their businesses. We are their future, as much as we are our own.

What do you hope your legacy/or the family business legacy will be?
That manufacturing is not dead. Long live manufacturing