PMF speaks to Gary Shulman, Managing Director of BBC Superfactors, about running a family business, the company’s recent expansion and its success so far.
Q. Thank you very much for speaking to PMF. Firstly, please tell us a little about the history of BBC Superfactors?
Gary Shulman (GS): The company started off in May 1984. At the beginning, it was me and a previous business partner who began what was then called ‘Blackburn Brakes’. All we sold were brake pads and brake shoes. It was an exciting time. After six months, we employed my brother-in-law. Within just a few years, we had expanded so quickly, we opened an extra branch in Accrington, offering a wider range of components. This is when we changed the company name to what we now know as BBC Superfactors.
Q. BBC is a family-run firm; tell us about some of the family connections. How important is family to you?
GS: BBC Superfactors’ ethos is that it is family orientated and this is embedded in the core of the business. There are over 150 employees, of which 12 are family members. My three children are also involved in the business too. My eldest daughter is the Operations Director. My youngest daughter is our Financial Director and my son is the Branch Manager and looks after our IT. The only difficulty we face working together as a family is that when it comes to family occasions such as weddings, birthdays etc., all we talk about is the business!
It’s important to me that all family members who work for BBC stay grounded by learning from the bottom up. You can say you have worked hard for the position that you’re now in and people will respect you for that. I am the Managing Director for BBC, but I also manage all of the marketing activity and to this day I still chip in with cleaning the toilets too.
We have been very lucky to be able to maintain a family run business for 34 years and our customers love our family ideology. But we are aware that as the business grows, it will prove challenging to retain. In the meantime, I’m very proud of what we stand for and what we have been able to achieve.
Q. You are a Parts Alliance member; what benefits does that bring?
GS: We have been a member of Parts Alliance for five years now and I must say that it has been invaluable for our business growth and visibility. BBC Superfactors has had access to its Head Office facilities, such as the purchasing and marketing department. Being one of the smallest business members of Parts Alliance, we have been able to win national contracts – something we wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise.
Q. Based all across Lancashire, what are the challenges associated with
running a multi-branch business?
GS: One of our main challenges running our business is our competitors. In Lancashire, there are a lot of companies that provide the same service that we do. It’s all about ensuring your business stands out in the crowd. We do this by providing good customer service and offering a fast and prompt delivery to all of our customers.
Q. The company is clearly progressing; tell us about the recent expansion of your Rawtenstall branch and the addition of your five new delivery vans?
GS: It has been really exciting to be able to expand our Rawtenstall branch alongside our other store openings. BBC now provides customers with more variety of stock to meet current demands. We have been fortunate enough to increase our fleet, adding an additional five vans, taking our total to 60 vans.
Q. The vans are joint-branded with some key PA suppliers; how did that come about?
GS: Parts Alliance has enabled us to connect with some well-known original equipment suppliers and we wanted to develop a way that we could showcase this. BBC wanted to promote the suppliers that we work with and we believed that joint branding was the perfect opportunity to do so. It has benefited both us and the suppliers, so it works well hand-in-hand.
Q. You have a mobile device version of your website; why do you feel that this is important and how successfully has it been received by your customers?
GS: Declan, my son who oversees IT, identified that it is important to have a website that can be accessed on our customers’ mobile devices. Everyone today has a smartphone or android of some sort, so we have to keep up-to-date with technology and ensure our customers can access our information on every platform. Our customers love it, as they can now look at our website on the move. We also update the website regularly, with both general and technical information, which we feel is very important for customer engagement.