Integrating non-family members into a family run business

family run business

Article provided by Lizzy Rudd, Chairman, Berry Bros. & Rudd

As a 320-year-old family business, our family values have always been at the heart of everything we do.

As the business has grown, and more non-family members have come on board, our core values – integrity, trust and passion – have been central in guiding the integration of those from outside the family into the business.

Our aim is to create a culture built around a strong sense of belonging. We want our people to feel they are part of one large extended family and, in doing so, to act as custodians of our brand and think long-term like the family does.

That means creating a family culture throughout the business. For us, a family culture is an open one, where communication is plentiful, and problems are solved as they arise. Another aspect of our culture is that we are passionate about what we do.  We don’t just see ourselves as selling wine and spirits – we bring the world of wine and spirits to life. We like to think our culture is a strong reason for people often staying with us for their whole careers.

Our culture and values sit alongside strong governance. Before becoming Chairman, I worked closely as Deputy Chairman on the restructuring and governance of the Executive Board and on the formation of the Family Council and Owner Board. The Owner Board provides a conduit between the family owners and the wider organisation, setting a clear vision for the business, while the Family Council’s role is to support and develop the two families, particularly the next generation, as well as keeping us united and contributing positively to the business.

With this structure and direction in place, it’s up to the executive team to develop and implement the strategy and make the vision a reality. The focus is always on how to best serve our customers, guided by our values.

We want to pass on a company that future generations of Berrys and Rudds can be proud of, and ensure we remain relevant for a modern audience.

All our employees understand this and buy into the strategy, the philosophy and the values, whether family or not, and that’s crucial for good decision-making, a healthy culture and a thriving business.

Lizzy Rudd featuredAbout the author

Lizzy Rudd is the second woman to Chair Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine and spirits merchant and 9th oldest family business, and is a leading figure in a still male-dominated industry.

As a third generation Rudd family member, Lizzy has worked her way up the business from a young age to reach the role of Chairman, which she formally took over on December 1st. This includes a number of years spent outside the business pursuing other career options.

Now firmly back in the fold, today Lizzy is working alongside the executive team to leading the business into a new era, breaking down the misconceptions of wine merchants and making it more accessible.

Within the business, she has established the Family Board which sits alongside the Executive Board, and has played an integral part in the work carried out on the restructuring and governance of the Executive Board, and worked on succession planning for the business.

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