Family business case study – Cummins Mellor

Cummins Mellor Recruitment is an independent employment agency run by husband and wife team Richard and Michelle Mellor from its headquarters at Whalley Road, Accrington.

Founded in 1990, it now has specialist divisions advising on sectors including engineering, production, IT, print and packaging, accounting, hospitality and legal.

The business also operates a specialist relief chef business, and a dedicated CRB checks operation,

A client since 1991, Pierce provides compliance services and assists with the business’ in-house accounts function, as well as undertaking annual tasks including tax planning, shareholder remuneration and dividend reviews.

Gary Speak of Pierce said: “The success of the business has been largely down to Richard and Michelle’s enthusiasm combined with excellent financial controls and forecasting.

“It’s great to see them allow their employees to be creative, and use their own initiative. They’re not afraid to let their staff develop their own ideas and be open to change.”

At 23 years old, Cummins Mellor continues to perform strongly, with 2013 looking set to be a record year. But the life of the business has not been without its challenges, as Richard Mellor, director, reveals.

Richard started the business from a spare bedroom in his home following time spent managing the popular Lancashire venue The Dunkenhalgh Hotel. ‘Crippling hours’, particularly at Christmas time, meant he had to choose between his family and his job.

He recalls: “It would have meant an early end to my married life if I had carried on, so I got out and was offered a job with a national recruiter who wanted to get into hotel and catering.

“Within six months there were four of us and business boomed. Soon I left and set up on my own, in my back bedroom at Cottom Croft – a red bricked, four bedroomed detached house on an estate. I arranged a £10K overdraft and started the business. The rest is history.”

Running a business has taught Richard many lessons, and running a family-owned business even more.

He recalls: “Buying out my partners and stakeholders in the middle of the credit crunch was challenging, but my wife Michelle is a great support. I’ve learnt a lot from running a business with my wife.

“The most important lesson is that the old saying is true – cash really is king. Get paid as soon as you can, and don’t borrow too much of it. Forecasting is also a great skill to have, so know what your breakeven point is and aim for it.

“Running a family business quickly teaches you that you don’t have to stick to other peoples’ rules when you’re working. Certainly work hard when you’re there, but give yourself time to enjoy family life as well.

“It hasn’t been hard getting this balance right for me, remaining close as a family and running a profitable business, because my wife and I are in full control.”

Richard is quick to point out the importance of good advisors to a good business.

He added: “Paul Warren has been my accountant since 1991, he has helped me through buy-ins, buy-outs, company openings and closures, expansion and contraction, share purchases and sales, takeovers, agreements, computerisation, borrowing, tax and VAT investigations, weekly, monthly and annual accounts, tax efficiencies, directors loans, success and failures, buying and selling property, wills, inheritance planning and good old business consultancy.

“This is just a fraction of what he’s done and I admit I’m not always the easiest person to handle but he’s always kept his cool. His team including Gary, Margaret, John, Nadeem and Andrew, to name but a few, are all top class and treat me as if I’m important to them.

“I would recommend Pierce to anyone – they are excellent.”