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With an ever-growing portfolio of leading and innovative brands, Challs successfully continue to change the way we clean. Founded in 1990, Challs has been developing household cleaning products for 25 years. Paul Andrews spoke to the next generation to find out more.

The Challs brands are found in millions of homes and businesses in 11 countries that span the continents. They are available in most major retailers, both grocery and DIY and independent stores.

Challs’ portfolio of leading brands include Buster®, Bin Buddy® and Knaus®. These products are sold internationally by major retailers. Challs also offers an own label and contract manufacturing facility through partner Primo Manufacturing from their base in East Anglia.

Edward and Miles Burchell are the next generation of the family to have roles in the business, working with their father Graham, the current CEO. Edward joined the business just over a year ago and is working in Operations and Miles is currently working as a Marketing Assistant. Like many families, the brothers have different skill sets and their journey to the family firm has been varied, but one thing they have in common is a passion for the family firm and a desire to make a difference.

Both have been involved growing up with various roles in the business over the years and Miles is currently working in the business with no fixed term of tenure. Miles has a passion for film and TV and worked in the business whilst at university to see what the business ‘is really like and not just to have Dad’s perspective on it.’ Unsure as to where his career will take him he is making the most of his degree and producing videos for the business, amongst other things, to help with brand positioning and marketing. As Miles adds, “I am enjoying the role as it is allowing me to commercially adapt the skills that I have learned at University and to see how they adapt to working in a real business – the fact that it is our family business is a real bonus.”

Edward on the other hand has taken a formal role in the business, a role that is continuing to develop and evolve over time. Edward has a scientific background and was previously working as a nuclear engineer before joining the business where he is getting to grips with operations. As Edward explains, “There is a lot going on with the business operationally as we are changing the way we work, integrating new production lines that will help increase efficiency and productivity, and as everything we sell is made here in the factory, it is a great time to be involved and to see the plans being implemented.”

Clearly defined roles mean that both Edward and Miles know what they are responsible for and clearly relish the opportunities. Miles is clearly delighted to be supporting the video content for the online platforms and Edward is keen to ensure the new lines are up and running as quickly as possible too. Both are well aware of their roles and the fact that as the next generation the ‘eyes of the world’ are on them as it is their family name and reputation that is on the line, a challenge that they relish.

Edward adds that “It was a really good time for me to join as the business was changing. Having begun in the front room of Dad’s house it has changed enormously and with the technical Director looking to retire it gave me a good start in the business – a real purpose where I was able to take over the technical role which is an area that Dad has never really been involved with.”

Miles agrees adding that “Dad has continued to grow the business and embraced innovation and for me there is a lot I can add to help the business going forward.”

Challs may be located in a new head office that was opened back in 2017 but it is located within eyesight of the building where it all began. “It really inspires us to see where the business actually started,” continues Miles, “and it gives us the push to continue. We started out as a small business but now we are so much more than that and our systems and procedures are continuing to evolve to keep pace with the growth on the organisation. It is really exciting to be a part of it.”

The next generation are fully aware of the hard work and dedication that their father has put in to create the business that it is today, and mindful of integrating the family values into the evolving business too. “As a small business things just get done,” adds Miles, “but we are now changing the way we work and it is important that we maintain the culture of who we really are and with family involved that can be a real challenge, but, for me, that is what excites me and makes me come to work each and every day.”

Miles and Edward are aware of some of the challenges that lie ahead but are open about discussions and clearly focused on the future. “Dad is still young and this business is his life and we are all aware that he will never step away completely and we are still young and finding our way so who knows what the future will bring but we are open about the need to discuss the business, succession and all that goes with it too,” adds Edward.

Outside of the business there is also a sister and although not active in the business today, like her brothers, she worked during holidays growing up. Together, the next generation are one voice. “The primary aim of the three of us is to remain close as a family and we regularly have round the table chats about everything,” explains Miles “and Mum is a Director and involved in the discussions and the main board meetings so we have a healthy and open dialogue.”

Miles and Edward clearly love what they do and are in total agreement about life in their family business. “It might not be for everyone but working in the family business is fantastic,” adds Edward and “there is simply no time to be bored with lots to do and the work is exciting too although there is a lot of it!”

As with many family firms there is a lot of admiration for the staff, many of whom have worked for Challs for years and one thing is clear, as Edward explains, “whatever happens going forward Dad has made it clear that our people have to be cared for and as a family we want to create a real legacy, a legacy of love and emotional support for our team, those that we have known and who have worked for us for many years.”

Life in the family firm is also rewarding in many ways. For Miles, “Being involved in a new product and developing something that you can then see on the supermarket shelves is really exciting and it gives me an extra buzz knowing that it is for our family business. You work on something conceptual for so long and then you actually see it on the shelves which is great!”

Challs is a family business that is going places and continues to create new milestones. As Miles is the first to admit, “It is an exciting time to be here and we are a family firm that is always going to be busy – even the plateaux will be inclines, but as one of the next generation there is a real energy and great plans for the future so lots of opportunity too.”

This is a family firm that is embracing the opportunities available, developing a global presence and really changing the way the world cleans with a next generation that is proud to be involved and actively taking part in the next stages of the journey too.

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