R J Balson Butcher provides great tasting West Dorset and Somerset meat from local farms less than 30 miles from their shop in Bridport. The business is over 500 years old and is currently run by the 26th generation of the family, Richard Balson, and is the oldest butcher and the oldest direct lineage family firm in the UK today, dating back to when in was founded in 1515. Paul Andrews spoke to Richard to find out more.
What does your family business do?
We are a retail family butcher based in Dorset and the oldest family owned butcher in the UK having traced our heritage back to 1515.
How did you get involved?
I was born in to the Butchery craft and I guess the outcome was inevitable really.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a footballer but was not good enough.
What are your first memories of the family business?
Skinning rabbits at the age of 7 years old with my father.
What values are important in your family/family business?
Offering great service to the public with pleasure and pride.
What is the best thing about being a family business?
You are in control of your own destiny. You only get out what you are prepared to put in.
And the worst?
Unnecessary paper work, although this is probably the same for all businesses having to deal with the vast volume of red tape!
What is the best thing about your working day?
Looking forward to servicing my customers.
What is your proudest family business achievement?
Being recognised as not only the oldest, but being one of the best in our occupation.
Is there a next generation waiting in the wings to take over?
Yes, but when the time is right.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing family businesses?
Staying ahead of the competition of the supermarkets.
What words do you associate with family businesses?
Top quality, personal service and commitment to customer’s requirements.
Words of wisdom – What piece of advice would you pass on to someone thinking about joining the family business?
Be prepared for long hours, plenty of hard work and you will reap and enjoy the benefits of being your own boss in control of your own destiny.