Commerce and Industry Magazine Profiles CEO Peter Brown
Published February 26, 2017
Our CEO Peter Brown talks to ‘Commerce & Industry’ about the 100 year anniversary, family businesses and changes during his time at the company.
Tell us about your 100th anniversary plans
I am a big believer in giving back, and Neill & Brown completing a century in business presents a once in a lifetime opportunity. 2017 is a year-long celebration for us during which we are honouring all the people who have helped us make it happen – under the hashtag #OurStars. We will take delivery of six new trucks with the centenary branding, support local charities and cultural events as well as having a huge party in the summer.” said Peter.
#OurStars refers to our staff past and present and people who have made Hull a great place to be. We want to celebrate as many as possible. We’ve put up a hall of fame on our website which we will add to throughout the year. There’ll even be me in there – maybe alongside Amy Johnson! We’ll be using the hashtag on social media and want people to join the conversation nominating anyone they see as a local star or hero.
Hull 2017 seems to have caught your imagination?
The success of Neill & Brown has never been down to me or any other one person. It’s due to the people who live locally, work here and put in the effort over long periods of time. The culture of a place is more than art galleries, it’s what underpins us and makes us the people we are – it shapes our characters. Our dedicated workforce over the last 100 years is made up of these people from our unique city – we were nearly all made in Hull. I decide early on that Neill & Brown should support Hull 2017 and we became the first business to pledge money to support the bid.
What about Made in Hull?
The first three months of Hull 2017 has the theme of Made in Hull and we kicked off our 100th anniversary with our special Made in Hull hampers which were boxes featuring our centenary livery. I’d like to take all the credit, but my wife Moira was the energy behind it. We packed them with gifts made by Hull businesses, from food to music to ceramics and sent them to clients. It really caused a stir – people have been calling to ask if they could buy them. We will be raffling one off for our chosen charities.
You have been at Neill & Brown for more than 50 years. Tell us about your first job.
Opening the post was my first job at Neill & Brown and it’s still one of my jobs – although there is very little in comparison to those days! Then I did two years dealing timber at our depot at Catfoss, then back in the office in Paragon Street until we moved to King George Dock. We are now in Hessle. The company was started by my great uncle with the story going that he met an Irishman in a pub and Neill & Brown was born over a pint. My father joined the company and it was a natural choice for me. My children and stepchildren have worked here and two still do.
Are family businesses stronger?
A couple of years ago, we had eight fathers with their sons or daughters working in the business, so it’s a family business through and through.
I do believe that there are some advantages to family businesses and there are many good examples in our region. They tend to take a long-term approach because they are looking to achieve good business health for the next generation. They also look after the money in good times as well as tough times so are good at building solid financial foundations for the benefit of everyone who works for them or is associated with them.
What has changed the most?
A few years ago, I could never have dreamed that I would be using hashtags or the phrase #OurStars. I love social media now! When I started in business there was no e-mail. We dealt in documents and cheques – now it’s all e-mails and transfers. The world has become a much smaller place with the advent of electronic communications which is significant for a company that work globally. The other big change of course is the advance of green technology which makes our trucks much more environmentally friendly.
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