Norfolk's Family Businesses
PUBLISHED: 12:05 14 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:09 14 June 2016
Archant Norfolk 2015
What's it like to follow in the family business? Mark Nicholls discovers how some of the county's long-established companies have thrived through the generations, and meets some young people working with their parents
Norfolk Snowsports Club, Trowse, near Norwich
Training and tuition is very much a family affair at the Norfolk Snowsports Club, on the outskirts of Norwich. As well as sons following in their fathers’ footsteps, there are examples of parents getting involved as a result of their offspring’s passion for skiing, snowboarding or even tubing.
Alan Pilkington runs the tubing facility – where visitors head down the slope on a large inner tube – and trains tubing instructors while son Aiden, 18, is the lead tubing supervisor and a freestyle snowboarder at the Trowse centre.
Alan says: “Aiden wanted to learn to snowboard so I used to visit and sit looking out of the window. Then a friend suggested I volunteer and it went from there.”
Aiden adds: “It’s really good working with Dad, as we have so much common ground.”
“Frustrating and fun” is how Josh Tomlinson, 20, light-heartedly describes working with his dad Simon, who runs the Saturday Junior Club and is a mentor and coach to the new ski instructors.
Josh is a level one ski instructor and freestyle coach, while younger brother Harry, 17, is a tubing supervisor and is training to be a ski instructor. Their mum Sally is also an instructor.
Simon says: “I can remember when the boys put skis on for the first time, and now to see how far they have come is phenomenal.”
Tubing supervisor John Burroughs also helps with the adaptive ski section for less able skiers and has now been joined at the Trowse centre by his son, George, who is 17. Also keeping it in the family is Mark Syder, a level two instructor who coaches the race team, while son James, 18, is a trainee ski instructor.
Arthur Howell, butcher, Wells
Family butchers Arthur Howell has been in the same family since the latter years of the 19th century.
The current Arthur Howell explains that the business was set up in 1889 by his great grandfather and adds: “My daughter Alex, who runs our bakery and delicatessen in Wells, is the fifth generation Howell to be involved. I am proud of my heritage and what my ancestors have built, and everything they have worked for has been handed down through the generations for me to build on and move with the times and changes of our community.”
Arthur first started running the butcher’s shop with his wife Liz as they raised their daughter. “Later, when my father needed me, I moved to our shop in Staithe Street, Wells, and I helped him in the way families do. Gradually after working side by side for many years I took over the business and it’s where you’ll find me today.”
Passing down the multi-award-winning business is a tradition the Howell family is proud to continue, but they also recognise it conveys an important message for customers.
“It says to customers that they can trust your family name,” says Arthur. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be serving a customer in the shop and for them to say to you that your grandfather served their grandfather many years ago. Not everyone even gets to see their family every day, but I get to work with my family on a daily basis and it’s a privilege really. We all bring our own individualism to the business with our own ideas.”
With butchers in Burnham Market, the main shop in Wells and a bakery, delicatessen and wet fish shop too, as well as a smokehouse in Binham, the name Arthur Howell is well-known for fresh meat, bread and fish across north Norfolk.
Stoke Mill Restaurant, Stoke Holy Cross
Stoke Mill has been revived as one of Norfolk’s leading restaurants after Ludovico Iaccarino took it over upon his father’s death. Saverio Iaccarino set up Stoke Mill restaurant in 1969, quickly establishing a reputation for fine dining but when he died aged 72 in May 2013, it had, in Ludovico’s words, a “retro feel”.
With the family close to selling up, Ludovico and his friend and chef Andy Rudd, decided to re-invest in the restaurant and revived the traditions Rio had begun almost four decades ago to give it a contemporary fine dining ambience.
Set within the historic Stoke Mill on the River Tas, where Colmans first made mustard, such was the success that in its first year the restaurant won the coveted Best Restaurant category in the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2014 and is now looking ahead to its 50th anniversary.
“My father would have wanted it to remain a restaurant and stay in the family,” explains Ludovico, who has been involved from a young age. “That was the most important thing for him, and we have been able to do that and transform it into one of Norfolk’s best restaurants again, and now many of our customers from the early years are coming back to us.”
Dipple and Son, Norwich
Founded in 1878, Dipple and Son jewellers is proudly in its fifth generation. George Henry Dipple initially established the business in Woodford, Essex, before setting up the present store in Swan Lane, off London Street, in Norwich, in the mid-1890s.
Chris Ellis, who became managing director in 2013, says: “Although my father Rodney, the founder’s great grandson, and I share the Ellis surname, we are a direct lineage from the founder, as my grandmother Betty was the last Dipple.”
With his father as company chairman and stepmother Angela running Dipples’ Dereham store, which opened in 1963, he believes family continuity is important in the modern climate as it displays a “human touch”.
“In addition,” adds Chris, “I believe it conveys trust and stability, not only to our loyal customers but also to my suppliers, many of whom we have dealt with over multiple generations. As a family business we have a close-knit unit to discuss any issues, or raise suggestions, and we have members of the family who have been doing this for many years and have built up a fantastic knowledge.”
The next in line – the sixth generation – is Chris’ son John, but as he’s only eight he has a few years before he decides on career options, and as with previous generations, there will be no pressure on him to follow in father’s footsteps.