John Falder, managing director of HMG Paints and his son Jonathan Falder, operations manager of HMG Paints are the 4th and 5th generation working for their family business HMG Paints. Established in 1930 with two employees and a single product (capping solution), HMG Paints is now the largest independent paint manufacturer in the UK. Father and son discuss how their values are part of who they are.
"It’s not about writing stuff down, I mean, you write stuff down and it just goes in a cabinet or whatever. It’s actually what you do, it’s how you live it really, it’s what we do."
‘Our values are the core of everything’ John explains, ‘they are the first pillar of what we do and why we do it. Our values of decent, worthwhile, secure, underpin what we are all about. None of them are more important, because they work together. Those three words are our benchmark for decision making. I inherited another very useful question from my father, what are we really trying to do? This gets to the core of the purpose of HMG Paints, ‘great, we’ve grown the business by 20%, but what we are really trying to do? Is it a good thing that’s happened, or is it just being big, or is it just growing for the sake of growing? Is the company, i.e., the people in the business in a better position at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year?’
Reflecting on HMG Paints as a business family, it has thirteen third generation families currently in the business, both father and son believe their strong values and purpose play a key role. It also gives HMG Paints an enviable competitive edge, their average length of service is around 15 years. For John, the loyalty of their people is, ‘a good barometer whether we are doing it right, because if you are in a good place to work, you want your family to work here.’
Investing in the next generation of Collyhurst talent also makes a lot of sense for HMG Paints. Their Next Generation Coatings programme with local academies and secondary schools brings 14-year-old into the business. ‘During second world war, there was 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and 16-year-old running HMG because all the young men had gone to fight, all of our staff had gone,’ points out Jonathan, ‘so my father came up with the idea if a 14–year-old, my grandfather, Ronnie Harvey and Albert Moore, aged 15 and 16, could run HMG, so can today’s 14-year-old and 15-year-old.’
A programme set up because it felt like the right thing to do benefits HMG Paints, ‘one of the original next generation coatings is now a trainee accountant and is doing spectacularly well in the business’, and while some of the local kids did not end up joining the business, they found their direction, and for Jonathan, ‘that’s just as good as someone who joined the business.’
"To me as a next gen, it makes an enormous amount of sense, this is where we live. We have been in Collyhurst since 1930, it is our home, why on earth wouldn’t we want to make it better for both ourselves and the local community?"
It may sound counter intuitive but being secure keeps HMG Paints agile, as Jonathan tells us, ‘the security part of it is being in many different market areas, and what we find is, sometimes a market area becomes uncompetitive, sometimes it drops off a cliff. There are many different pillars, if one pillar falls, the rest of the pillars hold up the business. For example, looking through the top 10 products sold today, not one product in the top 10 now, was there five years ago. So, secure is being able to adapt quickly and evolve your business.’
From discussing a new concept in nail polish with a client and testing it on the nails of the same client an hour later, to creating the next generation of coatings ‘because if you are not constantly thinking what’s the next thing, then somebody else will think of it and leap ahead of you.’ Decent, worthwhile, secure has nurtured, over the generations, a collective passion for coatings in the HMG Paints family. Their enthusiasm to ‘move the game on again’ makes them leaders in their market, built loyalty in both their customers and people, and helps bring prosperity to their local community.