ABM looks to the future with board changes

South Wales kitchen house ABM has appointed two new directors to its board as it bids to increase market share while preserving the family heritage of the business.

The group — which incorporates ABM Catering for Leisure, Catering & Bar Installations and a separate restaurant interiors company — was set up in 1987 by existing directors and co-MDs Mervyn Bladon and Seamus Gately.

Both their sons — Andrew Bladon and Shane Gately — who are sales managers with the company have just been promoted to the board of directors.

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Mervyn Bladon says that it was important for the company to recognise that it must plan for its future and ensure it is in the best possible position to seize new growth opportunities.

“Andrew and Shane have been brought onto the board of directors to start taking some of the load because we are getting a lot busier,” he explained. “It is obviously to do with succession and the future of the company as well. You have got to start thinking about these things a few years before you retire — I’m certainly not going to retire but after 35 years in this business I do want to slow down a little bit and let them take some of the pressure.”

He also admitted it was important personally to maintain the family background of the business.

“Having been in South Wales now for 26 years, it was my one ambition to start the business with Seamus and to keep the two families involved. It is still a family business and family run and that is how we want it to continue.”

Bladon said it was also important for ABM to have some younger representation on the board to reflect newer ways of working and changing business trends. But he denied it would signal a sudden shift in strategy, noting that in recent times ABM has seen its core business transition from one-off sales and smaller schemes into full turnkey projects.

“I think the direction they will [eventually] go is more towards contracting complete schemes, which is what we are heavily into now. I think they will continue that, but they’ll probably find more profitable ways of doing contracting. I think they have got to look at how it is handled internally, how it is transported, how it is installed and other different ways of making it commercially viable, while still giving the customer care and customer service that we have always been very proud of.”

The ABM group of companies employs more than 35 staff from its head office in Cardiff. Last year it fully refurbished its showroom.

Bladon is optimistic that 2014 will be a strong year for the company. “It has been a tough few years for the industry but we have got a great order book and the enquiries have been coming in thick and fast over the last month,” he said.

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