We are a proud family business with a 120 year history

Jonathan Seddon

All of this week the BusinessDesk.com is running a series of articles focussing on the issues facing family businesses.

We are running the series of interviews, features and comment pieces in partnership with Hall Brown family law firm, Pannone Corporate and the Business Growth Hub.

To kick off our week long series of articles we spoke to Jonathan Seddon – chief executive of Bolton building firm Seddon.

North West building firm Seddon is proud of the fact that it is family business with a history stretching back more than 120 years.

The current management team includes three Seddons and they are the fourth generation to run the business.

Seddon is very much a North West firm and it currently employs 700 staff from its headquarters on the outskirts of Bolton.

And the fact it is a family firm has very much shaped the values and ethos of the business.

The current management team includes Jonathan Seddon, who is chief executive, Jamie Seddon, who is managing director of Seddon Developments and Nicola Hodkinson, director of business services.

The three siblings have clearly defined roles and Jonathan’s job is to create and nurture the culture of the business.

Jonathan has spent all of his working life in the business and has encyclopedic knowledge of the building sector across the region.

He has worked on building sites, managed contracts and now spends his time overseeing the whole operation and fiercely protecting the firm’s culture and ethos.

He spends his time keeping an overview of the business and the hundreds of different contracts Seddon get involved with.

And it is also his job to ensure that any issues that arise with clients are dealt with.

He believes there are very few problems that cannot be dealt with a chat over a cup of tea.

He said: “We are very much a family business and that informs how we do things.

“The three of us have different responsibilities and we work in different areas of the business that suit our strengths.”

He added: “For it to work there needs to be a clear division of responsibilities. Everyone knows what their job is and that helps when it comes to decision making.

“Of course, we also have people on the board from outside the family. You need to have a different perspective when it comes to making decisions.”

Seddon is the sort of place where you get a custard cream or chocolate digestive with your cup of tea in the boardroom.

And all the staff seem happy and relaxed with Jonathan, laughing at his jokes and teasing him over his cycling gear.

Seddon started life as a bricklaying business in Little Hulton in 1897.

Jonathan took over as managing director of Seddon Construction in 2007 and has been part of a major overhaul.

The firm is also proud of the fact that the firm has remained debt free.

Although, the firm takes a family first approach it seems that the strategy is working.

This year the firm reported turnover of £215.7m with £5.3m pre-tax profit for the last 12 months.

The 2017 profit represents an increase of 4.1 per cent on 2016’s figures and compares to a profit of £2.45m in 2015.

Jonathan is quite happy to admit that running the business is not all about profit, the main aim is to provide as good as service as possible.

The feeling is that if you get the delivery right then customers will keep coming back for me even if Seddon does not always put in the cheapest tender.

And at the heart of the business is a commitment to the community.

Not just to the wider Greater Manchester community but to the Seddon community within the business.

Corporate Social Responsibility is not just window dressing, it is at the centre of everything the firm does and informs the way the company operates.

Last year the business invested £1m in schemes and has continued to talk to its staff about the issues surrounding mental health and well-being.

The tragic death of  decorator Jordan Bibby has triggered a major campaign at the firm involving his mother Melanie.

Jordan as a young boy with his mum

Jordan’s Conversation is an educational presentation on mental health and wellbeing, and is being distributed within the Seddon offices, sites and throughout the company to encourage others to recognise the symptoms of mental health and offer help.

The family first approach appears to have served Seddon well at a time when many other construction firms are simply struggling to survive.

And there is every sign that the business is going from strength to strength.