For Trina Beare, Managing Director of Lamberts, the key to success is to surround herself with people she can trust.
“It was never planned that I would come into the business. When my father gave me the opportunity to take over Lamberts, I didn’t think I was ready for it. I questioned whether I was capable of doing it, but he said, ‘You don’t have to be an expert in everything. As long as you can pick up the phone and speak to somebody that you trust to get their advice or support and have people around you that know what they’re doing, you’ll be fine.’”
Lamberts have been part of the Norwich landscape since 1963 when Trina’s grandad, Henry Beare, set up shop on Cowgate in central Norwich, supplying quality industrial supplies throughout the construction, energy, agricultural, heating, manufacturing, and transport sectors.
Trina’s father, Tim, joined the business in 1973, helping the business to relocate to their current base on Whiffler Road two years later.
After a change in personal circumstances, Trina joined the business to get some experience on her CV while juggling caring for a young family. Within 18 months, she had gained experience in different departments and was working on business development, going out to see new and existing customers.
“Then, one day, my dad got me in. He hadn’t been very well and said, ‘I’m making you a director of the business because I need to protect the business and your mum if anything happens to me.’
“I’d studied business at university and had loved it, but I’d never actually had any practical experience of putting it into play. I didn’t want anyone else in the business to know about my appointment, though.”
This was when he gave her the invaluable advice of surrounding yourself with trusted allies.
“I was made MD in 2013, and Neill and Karl were made Commercial Director and Operations Director.”
Trina is talking about her long-term colleagues, Neill Ives and Karl Eade, who have been with Lamberts for over 30 years.
“Running a business is one thing, but understanding the products and the market is very different. It would have been very difficult without Neill and Karl, who really know the products, and we sell a lot of them!
“Having a team around me that understands every single one of our products and knows our customers is a huge support.”
Lamberts and Alan Boswell Group
But it’s not just internal support Trina has leaned on as she navigated running the business.
“We’ve got a longstanding relationship with Boswells. My grandfather and father speak very highly of Alan [Boswell, Alan Boswell Group Executive Chairman], and my father is immensely close to him. He’s always been in the background as somebody who supports the business and has been there for us.
So, when I took over, it was incredibly important that I got to know Alan. He was one of the people my dad was talking about when he said to surround yourself with experts you can trust who will support you.
“Not long after I took over, we were hit with a situation, and Alan was incredibly supportive. I sat in his office, and we talked it over, and he was so understanding. From that day on, he has been one of my rocks in business.”
Alan Boswell Group (ABG) was founded in 1982, and Lamberts have been a client from the very beginning, insuring their business through the Group for over 40 years.
“The team [at ABG] is absolutely second to none. Mark [Linehan] in private clients looks after our personal insurance, David [Perry] and his team look after our financial affairs, Alex [Mhandu] does our private medical insurance, and Alan and Jo [Davenport – Alan’s Commercial Handler] looks after our business insurance.”
The similar ethos’ of the two businesses has led to a successful partnership built on providing consistent service and sound advice to protect Trina and Lamberts from financial risk.
“Every time I ring up, whether or not I’ve spoken to someone in the last six months, they always remember who I am. That’s the difference between dealing with ABG rather than a national company or direct [with an insurer] – we’re made to feel important, you all care, and you’ve all got the same values as we do. That’s very important to me when choosing who to work with.”
For any business, a key component of ensuring longevity is managing risk, be that in the volume and variety of stock kept, the adaptability of your staff, or in your day-to-day practices that protect your employees from harm.
“Every year, we’ll have a renewal meeting with Alan where he’ll check that our business practices and any changes we have made are still covered under our insurance, and he’ll then make any adjustments needed. Internally, Karl looks after the risk management for the business. We also get support from Gavin [Dearsley, Director of Alan Boswell Risk Management] to make sure our risk assessments are up to date, and he advises on anything else Karl wants to talk through.”
While her father’s advice, the support of senior colleagues, and the long-standing relationships with trusted associates and loyal customers have all played a part in the business’s success, Trina is very clear that the Lamberts team has been the glue that binds everything together.
“Knowing what we’ve been through, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in the last 16 years I’ve been here. But we’ve got the company on the right track. We’ve got 24 staff, the majority of whom have been with us a very long time and we all work particularly well together.
“Everybody is very flexible and willing to work in other departments or help and support each other. We have a very caring bunch.”
So, what does the future hold for Trina and Lamberts?
“Looking after our customers has always been our priority, so this will remain the driving force behind any decisions we make; from what products to stock to what staff to hire, we’re all one big family.
“Given our location, there are a lot of opportunities in the renewable energy projects on the East Coast. These projects are really exciting, so we plan to get more involved in these and see where that takes us.”