In many ways, the growth of this family business is a textbook success story.
Yet in the current day and age – where more than 50 per cent of new businesses fail in their first year – there’s actually nothing textbook about an enduring company which has had the same man at the helm for half a century.
Bob Beaumont started Beaumont Tiles with his father in 1960. Starting out as just a small shop in the backstreets of Adelaide, Beaumont Tiles has grown to become Australia’s biggest tile merchant and imports some 70 containers of ceramic tiles every single week.
With close to 100 stores throughout Australia, Beaumont tells Dynamic Business that innovation is what’s kept things interesting over the years.
“We’ve always been very much on the front foot with technology, even right at the start, we were one of the first small companies I ever came across who actually got their own computer – and that was in the mid 70s!” Beaumont says.
Technology has also given Beaumont a creative outlet. While people don’t tend to purchase tiles online, he says this hasn’t stopped the business from using the internet as a primary source for disseminating product information, and helping customers decide to come into the store.
“I love innovation, things like our scan-and-play which is a visualisation for people to see what their room is going to look like with any of our tiles, and all the technical things in our shops. We’ve also extended that to the web as well so people can see what their room is going to look like – that sort of thing has been really innovative, and it’s these sorts of things which have kept things interesting for me – so I’ve never found that my interest has waned at all,” Beaumont says.
With 50 years of running a business under his belt, it’s hard to believe Beaumont isn’t privy to some sort of business special secret. He’s adamant though that the keys to his success have been hard work, good cash flow management, and having a supportive partner by his side.
“Support is everything, and my wife has been amazing. She’s shouldered a lot of the burden. If I hadn’t been prepared to work the hours that I did, we wouldn’t have been able to grow the business to the extent that we did – and we wouldn’t have had so much fun,” Beaumont says.
A passion for upholding the founding values of the business is also what keeps Beaumont going.
“We’ve got business values that have been in place since the beginning – and one of those is that when we get good results, we share them with the community. We’ve got 10 basic philosophies that we’ve always had in place, and they won’t be compromised – and part of that is sharing the good results.”
Having set up a board of directors, and an executive board to manage the day-to-day, Beaumont says he’s now free to do more in the area of strategic planning and encouraging staff engagement.
“I chair both of those, and it doesn’t really matter to us whether a member of our family runs Beaumont Tiles or it’s someone else. The best person for the job is the person who should run it, not someone who happens to be biologically related. I think that’s unfair to the staff, and unfair to the family members. It’s got to be based on merit,” Beaumont says.
Set to crack 100 stores nationwide next year, Beaumont has firm plans to keep growing the business.
“It’s been exciting seeing these new developments, opening new shops, opening in new states, relating to people, and what’s come out of that, is the ability to positively influence a lot of people, give away a lot of money, and that side of it has just been really rewarding,” Beaumont says.
“We’re going to keep growing, and innovating, and keep our foot on the accelerator. And for me, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, because I can’t think of anything more boring than retiring!”