Telling the truth about SME life today

Davidson’s parents, Wendy and Philip Davidson, founded plant-hire company Lease-a leaf some 26 years ago. The Northumberland-based firm currently provides displays for around 1,500 offices all over the country, and all the Davidson boys are mucking in.

“I did toy with the idea of playing premiership rugby for a while,” says eldest son, Andy. “I nearly signed to play for the Falcons. But I was realistic. The sporting world’s really tough, and my parents needed my help to look after the other two in school.”

Middle brother Matthew, now 19, joined straight from college. The youngest brother’s 16 and still in school, “I don’t know whether he’ll join the business, but if he does, we’ll reshuffle to make a place for him,” says Andy.

The firm turned over £800,000 last year. Plant leasing in the corporate sector is a fiercely competitive market, so Andy decided to diversify into a less risky business. He founded Leaf-it-at-Home, a subsidiary of Lease-a-Leaf, last year. “No one else is doing this,” says Andy. “We’ve already designed and arranged plants for 20 houses.” The firm does roof-gardens too, a particularly lucrative niche: one roof job brought in £26,000.

The interior houseplant design company has seen sales of around £70,000 so far. And Andy’s already working on another venture, A-Christmas-at-Home, to keep sales ticking over through the traditionally poor winter months.

Wendy handles the finance department. She’s the only one who’s not out on the road working with plants every day. Philip and Andy share the role of MD, and Matthew provides the muscle (ahem, sorry Matthew). And there’s no shirking – we’re talking 12-hour days here.

Surely it must be tough, being such a close-knit family and working together to boot?

“People are always amazed,” admits Andy. “We all work together. My brother and I live together. Dad comes down to London three days a week to run the southern area office with me. We all go on holiday together. We’ve got a boat in the Caribbean so we’re together 24/7. And we never argue.”

Picture source


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