Home » Other Articles » Siblings, Surfboards and Success – Family Business Forum supports local businesses

Siblings, Surfboards and Success – Family Business Forum supports local businesses

NI family Business forum
Darren McDowell (centre), Partner at Harbinson Mulholland is pictured with brothers Ricky and Chris Martin from Skunkworks Surf Co

Business owners and brothers, Ricky and Chris Martin of innovative surfboard producers Skunkworks, will speak at the next NI Family Business Forum on 24th April 2018 in the Europa Hotel. To register and secure your place visit www.nifamilybusinessforum.com

Skunkworks Surf Co is a business that inspires, takes the lead and shines the light for other entrepreneurs who are breaking the mould in terms of the traditional meaning of ‘family business’.

Ricky Martin is the owner of Alive Surf School in Portrush. While he and his brother Chris were carrying out the annual chore of mending broken foamies, to prepare for the season ahead, the brothers knew there must be a way to make surf boards which can stand the test of time and the test of waves.

That moment in Ricky’s garage has led the brothers, from Coleraine, to where they are today – directors of Skunkworks Surf Co.  Together they are now leading a team of engineering, shaping and sales and marketing teams who manufacture and distribute Skunkies across the globe.

Speaking about ‘Meet The Family – The Chairmen of the Board’, Chris Martin said: “Traditionally the term family business refers to a parent handing a business down to their children. Our family business is different in that we are two brothers who share a passion for surfing and manufacturing. We just happened to have a bit of a brainwave one day which has led to us starting a business which is creating employment, empowering new skills for a new workforce and we are now distributing our surfboards to surf schools globally.

“Not only that but we are working with sustainable products so our focus is about contributing to a sustainable environment, job creation, growth and profitability.”

With the focus of the Forum centred on leading and motivating staff in the unique setting of a family firm, the brothers will give an honest account of what’s it’s like to be brothers in business and explain how they approach managing the people who form part of the Skunkworks team.

Darren McDowell, Partner of Harbinson Mulholland (HM) and Chairman of the NI Family Business Forum said, “A good business is built on the back of like-minded people coming together to get behind a common purpose.  Family bonds are immensely powerful in this equation.  Our work with Catalyst inc in Belfast underlines the importance of family businesses at all stages in our economy.  A new generation of family businesses is emerging right under our noses and in due course they will become the mature businesses of our future.  Nurturing a new generation of family businesses is critical to our long term success in Northern Ireland and something we at HM are very much behind.

“Skunkworks represents this emerging crop of new, successful first generation family firms. They also break the mould of the more traditional family business scenario with a paternal figurehead at the top of the business with the children in line to succeed their parent(s). For family businesses like Skunkworks it is expansion and growth rather than succession that is their main priority”, said Darren.

The brothers will undoubtedly be a fascinating addition to the programme for the next NI Family Business Forum. During their session; “Meet the Family – the Chairmen of the Board”, Ricky and Chris will talk about their entrepreneurial journey, the dynamics of working together, their approach to creating a happy and productive workplace and how they protect the culture and values of their business as it grows.

The overall title of the Forum is “Resilient & Ready: Leading & Motivating Great People in Family Businesses”. Gareth Loye, CEO of M&M Contracts and the current UK Family Business Director of the year, will explain how he leads and motivates great people in the business he took over from his Father in 2011.  Mairead Mackle, CEO of Homecare Independent Living (HCIL) will talk about how the ICARE Charity, which is run entirely by volunteers from the HCIL team, helps build togetherness within their workforce. A panel discussion led by Michael McQuillan from Ulster University will then delve into issues around how to attract, retain and develop talent within family businesses.

To register and secure your place visit www.nifamilybusinessforum.com