Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Inverness-based Fraser MacLean, managing director of logistics firm M&H Carriers.
How and why did you start in business?
Having no idea what I wanted to do when I left school, I went to Strathclyde University’s Business School and moved into operations management.
In 2010 I was presented with a golden opportunity to work for myself in a parcel delivery business and seized it.
Selling up in 2015, I went to work for other people but I simply couldn’t recapture the satisfaction that comes from being my own boss.
So, in 2019, I moved to M&H Carriers as managing director.
M&H stands for Magnus and Helen. Magnus Slater started the business when he was made redundant in 1987, buying one vehicle and delivering parcels across rural Aberdeenshire. It has grown from there and I like that. I like building things, not destroying them.
How did you get to where you are today?
By having clear visions and great teams, plus the drive, determination and commitment to make it all work.
Who has helped you?
Definitely our customers. They have been phenomenal and without them I wouldn’t have a business.
Customers of this industry need to take leaps of faith, and it means a lot to know they see you and your business as right for them.
Employees are also crucial – it’s all about the team. They need to feel involved and that they have a say, and in truth a lot of the best ideas come from them.
With a small business, you have an opportunity to facilitate that.
Most people in business will agree there are certain people you can always turn to for advice – colleagues, friends, family, mentors and so on.
And then there are organisations out there that will also support you.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is one such, and its Highlands and Islands development manager, David Richardson, is one of the best guys I’ve dealt with in my career.
He has been a terrific advocate for the region and worked with me over a number of years on issues like unfair delivery charges.
The whole team at FSB is great, and I like dealing with people with similar mindsets and values to my own.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Employing people who didn’t share the same values as me. I wish I’d spotted the danger sooner.
What is your greatest achievement?
It has probably been our work at M&H Carriers over the past 12 months. We have new customers and depots, and have created a number of new job opportunities – especially in the Highlands and Argyll.
At a time when people have felt more disconnected than ever before, I am proud that we and our industry as a whole are able to help keep things moving.
What my team has done, under unprecedented circumstances, has been a phenomenal achievement.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
If only. I would do away with large committees and make people more responsible for their actions.
If you make people accountable and empowered to make decisions, I think they’ll make better ones so vote for me.
What do you still hope to achieve?
To continue to build a company whose people are happy in their work.
I love the Bill Shankly quote: “If you can’t support us when we lose or draw, don’t support us when we win.”
It’s what I try to live by, and it’s how I want my team to feel – part of something bigger.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t think anyone who runs a business ever truly relaxes but it would have to be family time, although that usually includes being a taxi for my kids.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I love listening to music, but I’m stuck between 1992 and 2002. If You’re Feeling Sinister by Belle and Sebastian is the best album ever.
What do you waste your money on?
Nothing. People who run their own businesses don’t waste money because they appreciate how hard it is to make it.
How would your friends describe you?
Loyal, trustworthy, honest, fair and occasionally inappropriate.
What would your enemies say about you?
That I’m better than them.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I drive a lot for my work and it’s currently a Volvo XC90, but I’ve ordered a Tesla Model Y.