CEO RAYMOND ACHESON + THE FAMILY BUSINESS
Raymond Acheson joined his father’s business in the early Seventies and has built Acheson + Glover into a major precast concrete and paving firm, with sales of £35.5m in its most recent accounts.
The company started out in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone in 1960 as founder, Harry Acheson went into partnership with Norman Glover to produce agricultural lime.
It’s diversified since then and now distributes a huge range of reconstituted stone and precast concrete products. As well as its Fivemiletown headquarters, it has major premises in Ballygawley, a sales office in Birmingham and four showrooms for its homeowner products around the province.
Joining the family business
Raymond grew up in Cookstown – where the Acheson family are well-known for their sporting interests, including hockey and Formula One. He worked in the business throughout his summer holidays.
“Everybody worked in the summer holidays then. I was involved in grinding lime and making blocks and all the various products, and dispatch,”“It was a good grounding and gave me a good understanding of the business. I went to school and then the University of Ulster in Coleraine but I gave it up after a year. I was studying economics but I just found the whole university life boring. I didn’t want to be spending time doing nothing so instead, I went into the business.”
Coming out the other side
When the recession hit, the business went through tough times but eventually Raymond was able to buy the business back with the support of Bank of Ireland. He says that it wasn’t the prospect of losing the business that his father had built up that drove him.
“I don’t think that way. It was just that I thought there was a future for the business. There were 400 employees who had to be looked after. If we walked away what happens to them? The easy thing to do was walk away but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. The business was fundamentally sound but the acquisition debt was the issue.”
For now, the company is busy with major school work and housing deals in Great Britain. That work includes work on eight schools for Carillion in GB, and another schools project in Balbriggan, Co Dublin. With school contracts, they typically supply concrete flooring, staircases, paving and external works, shipping through all the major ports on the island.
Raymond says he is staying put at the helm of the company.
“At this point in time I’m totally committed to the business and I enjoy my work and I’m still fit enough. As long as I am fit I’ll continue until I think I become a burden or don’t have the energy levels. But I have a good management team around me to tell me when it’s time to go.”
You can read more on this story in a recently published article by the Belfast Telegraph.