George Moss & Sons Ltd (GMS) was established by Sebastian’s Great Great Grandfather, George Moss, in 1920 and has taken various different paths in its 100-year history although it has always been recognised as a construction company. Even before the incorporation of GMS, George had a Joiners shop with a core activity of making coffins for the nearby funeral parlours along with general joinery work.
George had eight sons and a daughter. One of the sons, William, was chosen to be Managing Director of GMS as he was deemed to be the biggest personality and the most business savvy of his siblings. This appeared to be a wise decision as with William at the helm the business was able to take advantage of the enormous amount of construction work available after the war. The Leigh office remained the headquarters and the company flourished with four single decker buses taking their own construction workers to sites daily.
Moss Industrial Estate was acquired in the 1950’s with William making an exchange with land he owned in Risley, the purpose of the site at this point in time was to act as a stop gap for workers so not to lose workers.
When Walter Moss, William’s son, took over as MD he decided to shrink the company to make it more manageable. By focusing on the local area, the business built a number of prominent buildings, including Leigh Library, Tyldesley Swimming Baths, St Helens Law Courts as well as various schools and hospitals across the region. Walter also began to build a number of units on Moss Industrial Estate.
In the 1980’s, Walter’s sons, Philip and Jonathan joined the company and an era of housebuilding replaced the commercial contracting work. This was relatively short lived as the economic recession in the late 80’s bought this to a halt and the decision was made to concentrate solely on Moss Industrial Estate.
Sebastian Moss is now the fifth generation to run the business.
How long have you been running GMS and what is your main focus?
I have been running the business since June 2011. We are a commercial property investment company with our primary investment being Moss Industrial Estate in Leigh which we continue to develop with our in-house construction team.
What or who was the inspiration for the business current path you are on?
When growing up, I always knew that I wanted to run my own business. I wanted to be the one who determined my own success or failure in my working life and knew that I would thrive on the challenge of making my business a success.
I was fortunate that I was offered an opportunity in our family business and then given the freedom to express and implement my ideas by my father. Now that my father has retired, the weight is on my shoulders and, although the pressure can become overwhelming, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The inspiration, therefore, has been my father who I have watched fight to create a company which is not only successful but reflects the way in which he wants to live his life.
Is there one piece of advice you wish you’d been given before you joined the business?
People are very different; you need to understand what motivates them.
What is the one most important thing you’ve learned during the experience of running the business?
A great team is worth its weight in gold. We have employees which have been with us for over 20 years and they are an integral part of the company. Particularly in a family business like ours, it is not only the family members who build and hold the reputation of the company but its loyal employees.
What do you see as your future business challenges?
Apart from Brexit….? Adaptation of current business practises to meet the environmental challenges we face.
What would you like to leave as your business legacy?
Family companies are a funny thing as they often have more than one eye on the succession of the company. This is particularly relevant for ourselves as we are primarily an investment company now. Although my son is still very young, I would like to leave the company in a strong position to meet future challenges so that my son may, if he wants to, take it forward and put his own imprint on this historic company.
What do you consider to be your biggest business achievement so far?
Bringing a long-established family company into the 21st century, with new systems, practises and ways of thinking while retaining the core values of a family company where the relationship with customers and suppliers is the cornerstone of the business.
Unlike many Landlords, and particularly those of yesteryear, we want to work with our customers by supporting their ambitions. We have been looking differently at the Landlord – Tenant relationship and believe that by providing a great place to work and keeping our door open we can play our role in aiding the growth of our customers. Who will, in turn, want to stay with us as long as we can provide the accommodation that suits their business’s needs.
You can’t ignore technology. It is changing so fast, and it is important that we embrace this and use it to our advantage to stream line our everyday activities and to make sure that we stay one step ahead of the competition.
When you are not running your business, what do you do to relax?
I have my side project which is the restoration of my house. When I’m not doing that or working I try and get into the mountains to do some trekking. It’s such great way to get away from the stresses of running your own business and there are some magical places to explore.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement outside of business?
I ran 7 marathons in 7 days from Manchester to London for our family charity the Natalie Kate Moss Trust.
After the death of my younger sister, Natalie, from a Brain Haemorrhage we set up the Natalie Kate Moss trust to fund research into strokes at Manchester University and also to offer scholarships to those who had suffered a brain injury and wished to study at the university. The run from London to Manchester took place roughly about a year after the death of my sister and it really kick started the charity which has supported some amazing people and incredible research at Manchester University over the past 7 years.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running your business?
If I wasn’t running another business I have often dreamt of sailing around the world.
If my wife would come with me(!) I would probably try and find someway to realise this dream. Probably by captaining someone else’s boat!
Find out more about Moss Industrial Estate