This month, Potter Space’s managing director, Jason Rockett, was invited onto the panel of the Yorkshire Business Forum, together with David Kerfoot MBE DL, High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, and Fergus Bailie, Group CEO of the Bailie Group.
The forum was hosted by Paul Andrews, founder of Family Business United, a global magazine and resource centre that brings together the family business community.
The objective of the event was to share experiences of working within a family business and to discuss numerous topics, from the need for clarity of purpose through to staff welfare.
Unlike David and Fergus, Jason is a non-family business member, so he was able to provide an alternative perspective on the subject.
When asked why he joined Potter Space, Jason said,
“I was impressed with the history behind the company; from Derrick Potter starting with a single grain truck in 1965 to building up an award-winning logistics company with great foundations, and then having the foresight to identify the opportunity to change it into a property company for the next generation. There’s a real sense of entrepreneurial leadership within the business.
“To drive the business in this new direction, the family recognised the importance of bringing in someone with the right property experience and skills to realise the vision and to drive Potter Space forward.”
On the question of what makes Potter Space so special, Jason has no hesitation with his reply,
“Derrick is still as passionate as ever about the business he created and cares about long term relationships, whether that is with customers or the people who work within the business.
“This passion creates boundless energy and enthusiasm, which is infectious across the whole team. When we first looked around the business parks together, I struggled to keep up! Not only is he extremely proud of the facilities, buildings, and rail links, but he also knows all the customers and site teams by name. What should take 30 minutes, lasts two hours, as he likes to chat to everyone because he is genuinely interested in how they are doing.
“This is something that cannot be easily replicated within a big corporate business where the FD works remotely from the head office. Decisions are made by the effect on the bottom line, not on relationships forged over many years.”
Jason admits that working for a family can be more challenging, insofar that you have not been part of the journey and witnessed all the decisions that have been made over the years, some of which will not have been easy.
“However, this is countered by Potter Space establishing a strong set of brand values and guidelines about integrity, loyalty and quality. All have stood the test of time for over five decades and are vital when shaping the business and relationships.
“In addition, the new business strategy, which the team have input into, is being developed. It provides a clear vision, which everyone can understand and buy into for the next ten years and beyond.”
When asked what the key determinants for success in a family firm are, Jason commented,
“As in all businesses, surround yourself with good people who have the right skills. If there is an area of weakness, bring in someone with the right level of expertise who can drive that area.”
As for key learnings over the last 12 months?
“Be adaptable,” he said. “Don’t just keep ploughing on, especially in these uncertain times.
“Listen and communicate with your team and make sure they are looked after, and they are well, both physically and mentally.
“Finally, view every customer as a long-term partner. By working closely and helping them out in the short-term, they will be with you for the long-term.”