Joining Dad In The Family Firm
Position: Commercial Director
Company: Troy Foods
Sector: Food & Drink
Troy Foods is a manufacturer of prepared vegetables, dressed salads, mayonnaise and dressings based in Yorkshire. We spoke to James Kempley, the next generation to enter the business to get his perspective on life in the family firm.
Question & Answers with James Kempley
What Does Your Family Business Do?
Manufacturing of food products, coleslaw, potato salads, mayonnaise, dips, fresh prepared vegetables, tray baked vegetables, pre-packed veg.
How Did You Get Involved?
I decided to take a leap of faith when I was 18 and join the business as oppose to go to university and run up a large debt. I started working in the yard, checking in our products at our vegetable processing site and worked my way up from there. I learned the P&L and quickly grasped the importance of the bottom line.
What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?
I wanted to be a stocks and shares broker.
What Are Your First Memories Of The Family Business?
I remember Dad being absent a lot as a child up to being around 4 years old. He was working hard. I remember coming into work with him sometimes and was sat in the board room playing and coloring in while he was in the other room working hard. I remember watching the trailers coming into the yard and thinking ‘these are huge and scary’.
I remember key moments as well within the business, both good and bad, so I lived the Troy journey with my Father throughout my 23 years of being alive. It’s been a great journey and it has been really good getting to know it looking at it from other people’s perspectives. It is so multi-faceted.
What Values Are Important In Your Family/Family Business?
Any business worth working for needs to ensure people come to work and have fun and work safely and happy. Our values are family, empowerment, quality and growth. These were chosen by our employees for the business as it embodies what we are really about. The most important family value to me and my father and the Directors is loyalty and doing the right thing. We will always do the right thing and always treat those loyal employees with the dignity and respect they deserve.
What Is The Best Thing About Being A Family Business?
The best thing about being a family business to me is to be able to make decisions quickly without miles of red tape and bureaucracy. It’s also really important to me for people to feel valued within the Troy employee network.
To ensure we get it right and impact in a positive way on other people’s lives and families. To know someone started off as a Production Operative with the agency, and have worked their way up to become a member of the Supervisory / management team. That’s something my Father and I are very proud of.
And The Worst?
Seeing people leave the business for the wrong reasons. When people have let us down no matter how much we have supported them. That is the worst feeling in the world.
The other worst feeling is having to tell customers ‘No’. Sometimes, no matter what the business is allegedly worth on paper, its not worth dealing with them because they don’t align themselves to our values and treat our business and our people with respect.
What Is The Best Thing About Your Working Day?
Getting up and knowing that the day is going to be busy, tumultuous and great. I never get up and think ‘I don’t want to come to work’ I always think about getting to work and spend time with people and our customers. I love it.
I love working out the pricing, and going around the business to discuss important decisions for our business from the people within our business who display a huge amount of passion for their areas and departments. It’s really humbling to think people who are not blood relatives, act like it’s their own little business and are really passionate to take on the Kempley-Family ethos and shine that through to their teams. It is a really gratifying moment.
What Is Your Proudest Family Business Achievement?
There have been so many. Winning the Sword of Honor for health and safety, winning and retaining business year on year, and being nominated for Family Business of the Year. That was nice.
Is There A Next Generation Waiting In The Wings To Take Over?
Not yet.! I don’t have any plans to get married just yet, but hopefully in a few years.
What Do You See As The Biggest Challenge Facing Family Businesses?
People, talent development and engaging people and making our future leaders. That is the biggest challenge. To develop the talent and ensure that the business is ‘future talent proof’. We need to invest in people all the way, and support those who are loyal and want the best for themselves and our business.
What Words Do You Associate With Family Businesses?
I associate loyalty, fun, caring, supportive and people centric, which is why we are thriving because people want to come to work for us and want to develop within our business.
Words Of Wisdom – What Piece Of Advice Would You Pass On To Someone Thinking About Joining The Family Business?
I would say, no two days are the same, and the challenges will either make or break you. Be strong, be confident, but don’t be disrespectful and try and get on with the rest of the family members. Some you’ll love, some you’ll hate and others will fall in between but find a common connection that will bind you together to be able to work together for the common strategy of our business. Try and remove barriers, don’t place yourself on a high pedestal because that belongs to one man (my Father) and embrace the culture.