Family business case study – James Alpe

Accident repairs specialists James Alpe Limited has grown to employ more than 70 people and turn over £6million a year.

20130909 James Alpe Limited logo

Founder James Alpe gave his name to the business 30 years ago after he began repairing cars on his father’s farm, ultimately purchasing the existing site at Lincoln Way on the Salthill Industrial Estate in Clitheroe.

It now fills 60,000 sq ft of workshop premises, focusing on the repair of specialist and unusual vehicles and running an in-house conversions company, vehicle livery company and a car and van hire business.

Business is booming, with recent landmarks including gaining the British Kitemark Accreditation, and being picked as finalists in the Bodyshop of the Year Award four years running and winner in 2011. Most recently, a high profile contract was won to convert nine Minis for drinks manufacturer Red Bull.

The business has sought advice from Pierce on a range of issues from compliance to tax returns, statutory annual requirements and personal and company tax planning, as well as corporate structure.

Now falling repair work, rising costs and high referral fees has meant the company has had to bring in new business in large volumes, with many such businesses closing as a result.

James is the only member of the Alpe family involved in running the business from day-to-day, and admits he has struggled to obtain the right work/life balance.

To ensure the smooth running of his company, James has made sure he has the right management team in place, something which has paid dividends and allowed him to spend time with his family.

He revealed: “The business runs smoothly and efficiently in my absence and I feel comfortable knowing the right management team is in place.”

James reveals the key to his success has been managing cash flow. He added: “Having the right accountants in addition to having a strong management team supporting all our key business areas is also vital.

“Diversification has been a significant factor in our success, constantly looking at new business opportunities along with a strong marketing/business development emphasis.

“Being bold, not being afraid to make big decisions, investing in new technology on an on-going basis, diversification and having a team that can be trusted: that’s how you create a successful business that will survive.”

Graham Boyes of Pierce added: “James Alpe is a true study of the great British Entrepreneurial spirit, grasping opportunities as they come along and building upon them in an intuitive and imaginative manner.

“To grow a business one step at a time ensuring quality and customer satisfaction at all times whilst caring for your team is the perfect goal for any businessperson, to have achieved this goal with such style is one of Lancashire’s real success stories.

“We are proud to serve James Alpe and his great team.”