A FAMILY-RUN firm of electricians received the ‘shock’ of their lives after winning a major regional award in recognition of sustained growth and commitment to family values.
Mr Electric Birmingham North was crowned Family Business of the Year at the 2018 Birmingham Post Business Awards, which aim to celebrate success and reward the companies and individuals who are putting the region on the map.
Although the Tamworth-based commercial and domestic electrical company is no stranger to awards success, this is one of their biggest accolades to date.
It was an especially proud moment for 65-year-old franchisee, Jeff Longley, who is in the final stages of handing the business over to his sons, Luke and Dominic, after 10 successful years at the helm.
Jeff said: “We have won a number of awards, but this is probably our biggest to date. It was a great one to win because Mr Electric Birmingham North really is built on family values and I have been preparing my sons to take over for quite a while now. I built this company up from a very small business to the successful medium-sized enterprise it is today, but it will soon be time for me to step aside and let Luke and Dominic take the reins as we embark on even bigger growth in the coming years.
“However, I know that the legacy of attention to detail and a high level of personal customer service will continue with them.
“As finalists, we were invited to attend a champagne reception at Park Regis Hotel where we were able to meet some of the businesses we were up against and they were all deserving winners, so to take the title was a real honour for us and an achievement I’ll happily take into retirement with me.”
Winners of 15 awards across a range of sectors were revealed at a prestigious black tie ceremony at Birmingham’s ICC on Thursday, November 1, attended by hundreds of the region’s business elite.
Nominees were put through a rigorous selection process by a panel of high calibre judges who had the difficult task of choosing the finalists and deciding the eventual winners. All the awards are designed to recognise the passion, determination, tireless energy and skill that goes into running a top-performing company.
The Family Business of the Year Award is for established family businesses across all industry sectors that can demonstrate sustained success across a broad range of measures, whilst ensuring all family values are followed.
Mr Electric was up against Arc Building Consultancy and Thompson Insurance Brokers in a tough category sponsored by the Margetts Wealth Management team of independent financial advisors.
The judges also looked at the aspirations of the business to demonstrate how both current and future family generations will be involved in its growth, which is a key part of how the Mr Electric Birmingham North franchise is run.
Judge and Margetts Wealth Management Ltd managing director, Kevin Smith, said: “This award presented to Jeff Longley reinforces our ethos that strong personal relationships result in successful business models.
“Mr Electric used psychometric assessments to ensure his people were in the roles they were most suited to. Whilst common in large sales organisations, it is rarely seen in family business and showed exceptional business acumen.
“Jeff’s development of new green installation strategies for the electric rechargeable car market gave opportunity for expansion in additional dynamic business fields and was the clinching factor for our decision.”
Although this is the third business the entrepreneurial Jeff has turned into a £1million turnover business, it’s his first real family affair.
Jeff started his working life as a milkman after leaving school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and later took a job in a factory. When he was made redundant with a wife and five children to provide for, he knew something had to change.
So, when his family came into a £20,000 inheritance, Jeff invested £12,000 in his first franchise, Highway Glass, in the virgin territory of Tamworth – despite knowing nothing about running a company.
Ten years later, Jeff sold Highway Glass and bought fire and flood restoration franchise, Rainbow International.
But it was when his son, Luke, qualified as an electrician 10 years ago that the Mr Electric opportunity presented itself.
“Luke qualified in 2008, at the start of the recession, and as a newly qualified electrician there just wasn’t any work for him. I knew the previous owner of Mr Electric and asked him if he could give Luke a job, but he said he was thinking of selling,” Jeff explained.
So, Jeff put his hand in his pocket and bought the business. Since then, it has grown from a small business with two employees to a medium enterprise with a turnover of more than £1million, offering electrical testing and electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as traditional electrical services.
Luke and Dominic are now integral to the company’s future and take care of most of the day-to-day operations as Jeff slowly prepares for retirement.