What do you currently do?
I’m the MD of Fracino, the UK’s only manufacturer of espresso and cappuccino machines. A former Rolls-Royce engineer, I joined Fracino in 1987 as technical director and become MD in 2007, driving growth and innovating. In the coals to Newcastle adage, we sell our machines to the Italians – developing five machines across 2009-2013 – and poised to launch a new touch button machine.
We’re a third generation family business. My dad Frank (Fracino is a combination of Frank and cappuccino) founded the business, my wife Marion is credit controller and our eldest daughter Rebecca is a service coordinator. Our youngster daughter Katrina and our son David, both students, work in the business during their holidays.
What is your inspiration in the business?
My dad Frank who launched Fracino in a garden shed 51 years ago after buying a wreck of a coffee machine for 5,000 Lire (£3) on holiday in Italy. He brought home, stripped it down and had some new bits made.
Funding the business himself after the bank refused to lend him £300, dad, a visionary and a true entrepreneur, pioneered the production of espresso machines in the UK – dispelling the myth that only the Italians could produce the perfect espresso machine.
Who do you admire?
My dad – as technical director working with him for over 20 years, he inspired and motivated us to catapult Fracino from strength to strength and build our product portfolio to 50 plus.
Frank has been ‘the oracle of espresso’ through the last five decades – highly respected as a true gentleman in business and fondly nicknamed ‘the godfather’ by many of our valued customers, distributors and employees.
Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and on reflection we should have started manufacturing much earlier in the business cycle. When I joined dad 27 years ago it made a big difference – doubling our capacity to drive growth.
What defines your way of doing business?
Being transparent, always striving for excellence and seeking out new opportunities. From a standing start during the 2008 credit-crunch, we launched and built an export arm from scratch to one which now exports to over 70 countries across five continents – with exports constituting 28% of our £4.1m turnover.
We definitely seize the moment. When invited by 10 Downing Street to loan 11 of our Piccino espresso coffee machines to the 2013 G8 Summit, we jumped at the chance. David Cameron and international leaders used the machines engraved with the British flag, two are installed at 10 Downing Street – and we received a fantastic ‘thank you’ letter from the Prime Minister.
As a local employer with a 44-strong and growing team, we’re proud of being British – engraving a British flag on each of the 4,000 machines we produce annually. We’re also proud of our rich heritage and Midland roots and committed to developing our employees who are essential in achieving our vision and ambitious targets to expand our export offering to 50% of our turnover.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I’d stress how launching and sustaining a business is relentless and entails hard work, stamina and tenacity to succeed. The saying that ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’ has been proven time and again and I’d advise bosses to hire employees on attitude – particularly in today’s tough business climate. Also, ignore the detractors, stay true to yourself – and never, ever give up.