HR · 22 October 2015

Five British family businesses to take inspiration from


(3) Right Angle Events

Ex-Scotland Yard detectives Steve and Kate Gaskin weren’t quite ready to give up their past occupation when starting up their new venture a team building and corporate entertainment company. So, they decided it would specialise in Crime Scene Investigation events, where they teach people to solve murders.

The firm recently collected an award from C&IT Awards for best team-building exercise for their most popular event The Killing. Those taking part get to step into the shoes of a Crime Scene Investigator, while gaining insight into forensic psychology and cyber-crime. Steve said guests really get into the role and are provided with one-piece body suits, masks and gloves, as well as fully-equipped mobile laboratory.


It has been very much a team effort as many successful family businesses turn out to be during the seven years since its formation, the husband and wife have employed their niece to help with marketing, along with their three daughters. Their middle daughter Lizzy Gaskin feels you’re likely to work harder for a family firm, while trust is also a great benefit.

if the company does well, the whole family benefits not just financially but emotionally as well, she added.

Charlie Field with his family
Charlie Field with his family
(4) CPJ Field

One of the country’s oldest funeral service providers, CPJ Field celebrates its 325th anniversary this year and now has 40 branches across England. It was founded in 1690 when an enterprising group realised that well-to-do families were being overcharged for funerals, with the family utilising their skills in carpentry and cabinet making. Managing director Charlie Field said the business grew from there and by the late 19th century, early 20th, it was one of society’s leading furnishing undertakers, having assisted in the funeral arrangements of the Duke of Wellington and Queen Victoria.

Similar to the stories RJ Balson can share, Field said like many old established businesses, we have weathered storms and had to adapt to changing conditions and circumstances along the way.

He feels to truly run a successful firm in this way you have to embed the family’s values at the heart of your strategy and in many ways allow the company to become an extension of your family. This can be a challenge on occasion though, when people struggle to ‘separate the individual from the corporate.

The other drawback is family events can risk becoming impromptu board meetings, but there can be few trust-based relationships that are as strong as those between parents and children and siblings.

Despite CPJ Field buildinga legacy, Field said no generation has been made to enter the business. My grandfather once described it as a magnetic force that, when the time is right, attracts family members back.



Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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