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Alison Merrick understands exactly how this successful marine engineering company works from all levels. In 1995 Mike Beacham (Alison’s Father) bought WaterMota. At the time Alison was at a point in her life where she was looking for a new challenge and decided to make the move to Devon with her parents. She began working in the accounts department as an accounts assistant.
Unlike Mike who had been in the marine industry all his working life, Alison had never been in the sector and was keen to understand how the business worked completely. The decision was made to work alongside Margaret Hepple, the accounts manager (who had been working for the company for over twenty years).
When Margaret retired Alison had the full understanding of the finance division and moving to their current premises in Heathfield, Newton Abbot in 2005 became the ideal opportunity for Alison to become the Finance Director.
In 2014 Alison became the Managing Director and along with husband David they continue to grow the company. Here we find out more about the challenges of running this rapidly expanding business:
This has always been a family business from working with your Father and now with your Husband, David. How do you find working together?
We work really well as a married couple and it has strengthened our relationship. David sees things from a different perspective which helps when we are discussing work issues, we support each other which keeps us focused. We also enjoy business trips together, often taking a few extra days as holiday.
How do you measure success?
I measure success through several factors including the team’s morale. It is a cliché but a happy workforce is a productive workforce. My priority is our team, they are the reason the company is growing and helping them develop in their career makes me incredibly proud.
What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
Definitely the HR side, it’s having the responsibility for people’s livelihoods and that’s really hard when faced with difficult situations. I try to be positive and focus on what’s best for everyone, which in turn, makes my HR side a lot easier.
What’s the best motivator for employees?
I believe it is through trust and respect. I completely trust every member of our team and allow them to have freedom within their roles in the company. I listen to their ideas, encourage development and reward at every opportunity.
What’s your proudest accomplishment in your business?
Becoming MD and owner of WaterMota. Mike has taken a complete step back and allowed David and I to “get on with it” This has given us stability knowing that the decisions we make determine our own destiny .
What’s the biggest myth in business?
That you should be working ridiculous hours in order to have a successful company. I believe a good manager should be able to trust their team and allow them to develop their own roles and achieve their ambitions which in turn helps to grow the business. This then allows me to concentrate on other areas that need focus, and also gives me time to myself to reflect.
What has been the hardest lesson?
Having confidence in myself. It took me a long time to realise that I did have the skills and knowledge to become MD. With the help of David and the rest of the team we are taking WaterMota forward. We are developing new ideas, looking at new products to enhance our existing range and we are growing. Our sales have increased and we are looking forward to a positive future.