Build­ing on suc­cess

Gloucestershire Echo - - BUSINESS -

In the run-up to this year’s Busi­ness Awards, Quolux™, the lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment and strat­egy spe­cial­ist and spon­sor of the Life­time Achieve­ment Award, ex­plores the link be­tween good lead­er­ship and busi­ness suc­cess among pre­vi­ous win­ners.

This week, Ste­wart Barnes, be­low, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Quolux™, con­sid­ers the achieve­ments of MF Free­man, which was crowned Busi­ness of the Year in 2014.

Dou­ble-digit growth for five suc­ces­sive years makes an im­pres­sive head­line, but that’s only part of MF Free­man’s suc­cess story.

The fam­ily busi­ness, led by joint-chief ex­ec­u­tive Luke Free­man, be­gan trad­ing in 1966. From its roots in farm­ing and plant hire, its en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­stincts led the firm into con­tract­ing, civils, de­vel­op­ing and house­build­ing, forestry and leisure. To­day, it op­er­ates as a group of com­pa­nies over­seen by Luke.

Luke has built a ro­bust man­age­ment team, in­clud­ing non-fam­ily mem­bers, in­vest­ing in their lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment on our pro­grammes LEAD™, GOLD™, GAIN™ and Lead­light. Ac­cord­ing to Luke, this is equip­ping the firm with the tools, un­der­stand­ing and con­fi­dence to achieve their am­bi­tions.

“My diploma project at the end of GOLD™ ex­plored what might be the right cul­ture for MF Free­man to de­liver high per­for­mance,” Luke ex­plains.

“It’s de­vel­oped its own mo­men­tum since, look­ing closely at em­ployee en­gage­ment and un­der­stand­ing how our staff add value to the busi­ness.

“Com­mu­ni­ca­tion across the com­pany has im­proved. Peo­ple are more aware of our long-term vi­sion, which makes it a more en­joy­able, sat­is­fy­ing place to work. I think ev­ery­one’s more re­spect­ful of each other and more ac­count­able for their own de­ci­sions. We’re proud to be a fam­ily busi­ness, so rather than be­com­ing more ‘cor­po­rate’ as we grow, we want to main­tain that fam­ily feel. We’d like ev­ery­one to treat the busi­ness as if it is their own, and so we em­power them to make de­ci­sions them­selves.”

Back in 2014, when the team took to the stage at the Cen­taur to col­lect their tro­phy, they were mid-way through a five-year strate­gic plan to in­crease the turnover of the com­pany from £10m to £25m, with a healthy profit tar­get. They achieved that a year early, in 2016, and set them­selves a new chal­lenge, to reach £50m turnover.

In 2018, Luke was one of the first to achieve an MBA (Lead­ing Busi­ness) through Quolux’s™ unique work-based learn­ing mas­ter’s de­gree, de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship with the Univer­sity of Glouces­ter­shire. This has in­spired fur­ther in­no­va­tion through­out the busi­ness, as they ex­plore what it means to grow through “re­spon­si­ble lead­er­ship”.

“The ques­tion of what our busi­ness should be do­ing to act re­spon­si­bly is chal­leng­ing, par­tic­u­larly for the house­build­ing sec­tor,” says Luke. “I be­lieve there is a real sense of ur­gency to move to­wards a sus­tain­able way of do­ing busi­ness in light of the United Na­tions’ Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment.

“I be­lieve it should be pos­si­ble to be a ‘force for good’. It’s an evo­lu­tion from the val­ues we de­vel­oped with the team a cou­ple of years ago, en­cap­su­lated by our mis­sion ‘build­ing for a bet­ter fu­ture’.”

The next LEAD™ pro­gramme be­gins in Novem­ber 2019, when we’ll be bring­ing to­gether an­other small group of MDS, owner-man­agers, direc­tors, se­nior man­agers and part­ners to ex­plore their lead­er­ship and grow their com­pa­nies, as Luke has done.

To see videos from like­minded lead­ers and dis­cover whether LEAD™ might help you with your lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment, visit

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