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Inverness managing directors discuss following in the footsteps of generations

By Rachel Smart

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Chris and Scott Dowling of the Cairngorm Group..
Chris and Scott Dowling of the Cairngorm Group..

Chris and Scott Dowling are the current managing directors of the Cairngorm Group. They’ve followed in the footsteps of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather and are both proud to play an integral part of the Inverness business landscape and the wider community.

Speaking about the highlights for them since they’ve been in the business, Chris said: “The highlights which spring to mind is that off the back of some of the difficult times for the business, we have won awards.

“In 2013 we won the family business award and last year we won the community benefit award. To get that wider recognition from the local business community are two highlights that come to mind straight away.

“We have also done a lot of work around developing the young work force and apprentices, and we’ve had successes with people that have stuck with the company after coming in young.

“We’ve seen a lot of young people come in who haven’t been particularly academic, and we’ve given them a chance and seen them progress and stay.”

Scott said: “For me it’s three big things: The family element, through from great grandfather to us; the longevity of the staff, coming in as a teenager on the school holidays there were staff here that are still with us now; and the longevity of our customer base too. We have customers in Orkney that have been coming since 1988 and we keep wondering where these windows are going!

“I also take great pride in seeing the houses in Inverness expand with our windows in them!”

Working in a family business would be perhaps challenging for some, but the Cairngorm team have learned how to work well together by following a few simple rules.

Chris said: “We have clear areas of responsibility and everyone knows what they are.

“We have clear boundaries and almost right from the word go and we know what that is for each other. We come together at least once a week to discuss where we are at, but ultimately we give each other the space and respect to do our jobs.

“I also think being able to have open and honest conversations is important. As a family we do that quite well and we can sit down and have difficult conversations in a right way.

“It’s not really that different to marriage. My grandma was a marriage counsellor for many years and I asked her one day what’s the secret to a long marriage.

“She said: “It’s the three C’s. Commitment, communication and compromise”.

“You’ve got to be committed to make it work, there’s got to be good communication around expectations and who’s doing what. But compromise. There are times when I want to do something but everyone else wants to do something different, so I’ve got to compromise to make it work. Those three C’s apply to any relationship, and are equally as applicable to a family business.”

Scott added: “I think having our own outside interests is healthy too. We’ve all got our own stuff, and that gives us a bit of balance.

“Grandfather is 91 and he still pops in at least one week, and dad is in too! I don’t think you ever lose the interest. It’s not like working for a national firm. We can still call on their expertise and experience which is healthy too.”

The big element they are proud of is playing a vital role in the community through developing young people, their community benefit grant, Jennifer’s Fund, and supporting sports.

Chris concluded: “The community of the Highlands have been so good to us, so it’s only right that we put back into it in return.”

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