Bennetts Steel General Manager, Shiree Bennett, gives her personal insight into the pros and cons of working in a family business in the interview below.
1. Can you please give us a quick overview of your business?
Family owned and operated, Bennetts Steel was founded by Gordon Bennett and Peta Simmons in 1991 and have recently celebrated 30 years in steel under the same family. Keeping the family legacy, the Bennetts Steel team currently has Shiree Bennett, Gordon’s daughter, at the helm who is supported by a team of talented men and women who are skilful at their trade and make Bennetts Steel one of the largest privately owned steel retailers on the East Coast.
With a site of over three acres filled to the brim with steel, in stock and ready to go. From new steel to downgrade and factory seconds steel, they stock a large assortment of product and provide a massive range of services under one roof, including cutting, folding, bending, rolling, fabrication and machining. Bennetts Steel also specialise in CNC plasma cutting and offer sculptures and garden art, decorative privacy screens, fire pits and bbq hotplates, property signage and a wide range of custom steel projects.
2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in a family business?
The most rewarding aspect about working in a family business is to be able to work alongside my Dad and carrying on a business he built from the ground up that he is extremely passionate about.
3. Working amongst family has its difficulties, what would you say is the most challenging aspect?
There really isn’t many challenges about working with family, however the aspect which causes the most angst would be technology and the older generations being able to adapt to more modern processes.
4. From your experience, what advice would you give to other family-owned businesses.
I believe that the most important thing is to ensure that you have clearly defined rolls with one General Manager and regular meetings with staff. When transitioning from one generation to another this ensures that the business has the ability to move forward, while still keeping everybody up to date with the changes thus ensuring that they still feel that they are part of the business moving forward.
5. Why did you want to be involved with your family business?
I, like so many, had gone off and had my own separate career, then came home to raise my family. Seeing the family business grow and then the possibility of it being sold off so that retirement could happen for my parents opened up an opportunity for me to continue the family legacy whilst still being able to do this for and make it work around our family.
6. How do you keep your family time separate from the family business dynamic?
Being a single parent, my children have grown up and have spent a lot of time on site in the business, so it is like extended family anyway. I am quite particular about leaving work at work though and other then family gatherings work stays at work.