The key to a successful family business

The key to a successful family business

As Northallerton family business JSW Coachbuilders celebrates its 55th birthday this year, the company has revealed its secret to success: a great family relationship; great customer service and maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit of the business...

JSW Coachbuilders is celebrating a huge milestone this year as it celebrates an impressive 55 years in business.

Founded in 1961 by John Sayer Watkinson, the company started off manufacturing livestock containers for local farmers.

It was in the 70’s and 80’s however when second generation director Alan Watkinson expanded the company into the area of horse transport.

This is now the main thrust of the business, with clients including professional horse transporters, racehorse trainers, as well as top flight show jumpers, 'big name' business leaders, livestock breeders and even the Queen's Cavalry regiments.

According to the Family Business Institute, only 30% percent of family businesses survive into the 2nd generation, with 12% surviving into the 3rd generation and beyond. 

JSW however is flouting these statistics having survived through several economic recessions and the foot and mouth crisis.

Alan’s daughter Emma joined the business in the early 90’s and has praised the company’s growth since it was launched back in 1961.

Emma attributes the success of the company to three key factors: a great family relationship; great customer service and maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit of the business.Vintage Jsw Lorry

She said: “We couldn’t work this closely if we didn’t get on as well as we do, but it works because we all bring our own areas of expertise to the business and we make a great team.

“We are really conscious that as a longstanding business, we don’t want to become too rooted in doing things how they have always been done.

“We are always looking at how the industry is evolving and what our customers want in order to improve and stay one step ahead of our competitors.”

Alan added: “We have some really diverse requests and we like to think that we do everything we can to help our clients get the best solution. 

“For example, we have recently built a wheelchair lift into a new build horsebox, we  have also developed a unique equine loading ramp - designed to unload and load horses from aircraft to the ground without injury - has proved a hit with international transporters.”

The JSW team are reflecting on their roots this year, but are also looking firmly to the future as they look to continue growing in the sector.


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