On top of the typical challenges faced by business owners, the Arbuckles, founders of Glasgow-based manufacturer LINIAN, have also had to learn the art of balancing business practices with family relationships. Despite agreeing not to talk shop outside of working hours, the family admits that the distinction between boardroom and dining table can become blurred.
Following previous experience with other electrical businesses, LINIAN was established in 2006 by husband and wife Wes and Jean Arbuckle. As technical lead, Wes’s passion had always been to provide solutions to his customers. Following feedback from site managers about the time spent securing vast lengths of cabling for fire alarm systems, he developed the LINIAN fire clip – a fire-rated, easy-to-install clip for fixing cables to construction materials. Jean helped him get his invention patented, and together they brought it to market.
In 2015, new regulations came into force requiring all cable clips to be metal. Recognising this opportunity to champion the LINIAN clip, Wes and Jean’s son and daughter, Ian and Lynne, joined the business as managing director and sales and export director respectively.
Ian’s ambitions for the business are clear: “It is our vision to make the built environment a safer place for everyone, to be pioneers in our field, and we want to make Glasgow proud again of its past. The city is famed for innovation – it’s associated with shipbuilding on the Clyde, and Strathclyde University is world-renowned as an institution for engineering. It is our mission to create more opportunities for people here in Scotland, and continue to develop new solutions that improve the everyday safety of people everywhere.”
It is our vision to make the built environment a safer place for everyone, to be pioneers in our field, and we want to make Glasgow proud again of its past.
Compliant with the latest British Standards regulations, the LINIAN clip is three times faster to install than traditional methods and is expertly designed to save time, money and lives. There are over 500 stockists in the UK and sales increased by 333% from 2018 to 2019.
Ian says: “We were thrown into a turbulent and exciting growth curve which we were keen to harness and create a strategy around quickly both professionally and personally. I had to find a way to develop my own skillset and ensure that I could confidently bridge the gap between being an engineer and being a businessman.”
In 2018, he was accepted onto the Scottish Government’s £4M Unlocking Ambition programme, which offers intensive wraparound support to help high-potential entrepreneurs in Scotland scale-up their businesses and develop their leadership skills.
The potential for innovation in Scotland is heavily reflected in the level of business support available and we’d say to anyone with an idea – ‘why wouldn’t you start-up in Scotland just like we did?’
“Being part of Unlocking Ambition has been hugely valuable. By getting to know the cohort in an intimate and uncompetitive setting we’ve been able to use each other as a sounding board on many occasions including advice on HR and recruitment. Seeing the other businesses secure equity funding first-hand has given us the motivation, knowledge and confidence to expedite our journey and growth ambitions even further and quicker than we had originally anticipated.”
Unlocking Ambition support allowed LINIAN to meet the high costs of expanding its intellectual property portfolio into potential export markets. Without the support, this would not have been possible due to the high capital expenditure required and the restrictions on small businesses.
Securing investment will facilitate the next steps for LINIAN, with plans to grow its product rangeand move into new export territories. In addition to accelerating growth, the Unlocking Ambition programme has had a significant impact on company culture.
“For me, the biggest game-changer was the insights masterclass, where a business psychologist demonstrated how our personal traits influence how we work with others and how we lead. As brother and sister, Lynne and I realised that we were often butting heads, even if we were trying to say the same thing. We’ll never be able to separate our business and family lives completely, but we now communicate much more effectively and it’s been really transformative for us and the business.
“It’s amazing that we’ve been able to grow something invented by our dad into the global business we have today. The potential for innovation in Scotland is heavily reflected in the level of business support available and we’d say to anyone with an idea – ‘why wouldn’t you start-up in Scotland just like we did?’”