Image via WikipediaThis is the life; standing on the balcony of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club talking about business with Dominic May, director and family shareholder of Berthon Boats. Dominic and his brother are the third generation to run the business as their grandfather preferred banking. Dominic told me that Lymington harbour was just the other side of his boat yard and a short walk away. He was being very modest. Berthon Boats is a large business employing over 100 people. They build them, they repair them and there is a marina. It is a long walk past the site! The Brothers were brought up in the lovely house which is part of the boat yard. Perhaps one day a Cambridge Cluster geek will do well enough to say that “I liked the house so much I bought the boat yard!”. They used to own most of the houses and property by the docks as in days gone by you provided accommodation for your skilled craftsmen and everyone else. The world has changed and the work-force drive to work and the houses are second homes for Londoners.
Twenty or so years ago when Dominic was in his early twenties (he has just got married and fathered three kids in quick success – fast worker), he worked for a company selling software like Lotus 1,2,3 and hardware. The business used the classic approach of buying stock and then selling it. The trouble being that technology was (is?) changing so quickly they had lots of old stock. Dominic changed the ordering process to just-in-time and only ordered what the sales reps had sold. Cash flow and profits transformed and the owners sold out for what was an astronomical sum. But those were the eighties and few people had heard of Equity Fingeprint, the business plan resource, and options. So Dominic and all the hard working team had to make do with thanks!
Where we the only people to make all shareholders distribute part of the sales proceeds to all the staff when we sold the business as a condition of the sale as in the eighties we did not have an option pool either? It was one of the strangest days of my life.