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Member Stories

A new adventure for Sutcliffe Play

West Yorkshire playground equipment manufacturer, Sutcliffe Play, is now owned by its employees following a £1.3m staff buyout.

above target and we are looking forward to continued growth in the knowledge that the future of the company is in our own hands. “The government has taken the lead in funding more places for children to play safely through its wide ranging Children’s Plan and we in turn have accelerated our growth. We now employ 90 people from our head offi ce in an old mining village in Upton, Yorkshire and we’re in an excellent position to continue this growth to the benefi t of the company, the employees and the local community.

Viv Jebson (bottom left) and her team look forward to Sutcliffe Play’s continued growth

The company, renowned for pushing the boundaries of play, is looking forward to new challenges as ownership is handed over to the workforce. Specialist funders, Baxi Partnership, Co-operative & Community Finance, Barclays and The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust supported the buyout. Viv Jebson, Managing Director of Sutcliffe Play is confi dent that the company will continue to thrive:

Space Ranger

Serial entrepreneur Julian Ranger had three boyhood dreams: to work in aviation, to travel the world and to journey into space.

His Vistage group has undoubtedly helped to keep him on track - particularly during a rollercoaster period which saw him squaring up to the legal might of the world’s largest defence company. Julian achieved his fi rst dream as Managing Director of STASYS - a defence systems and software consultancy he co-founded in 1986 and grew to a £17m turnover before selling to defence giant Lockheed Martin. Julian’s 15-strong Vistage group proved an invaluable sounding board in the lead up to, and after, the sale. “The deal brought innumerable challenges. Lockheed never paid the fi nal tranche of the sum agreed so we did a ‘David versus Goliath’ type battle in court against their army of lawyers – and

Employee ownership will make us more committed

“At a time when the UK manufacturing industry has suffered, we have continually performed

“Employee ownership will make us more committed to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and enables employees to share in the success and wealth of the business. I am delighted in the take up level of share ownership; it’s a true sign of our employees’ commitment to the future of this business.” Viv credits the support and knowledge she gains from her Vistage membership: “It gives me access to several viewpoints – not just my own. It also gives me insight into best practice approaches. Meeting monthly gives me a good measure of time in which to accomplish tasks and measure my progress against objectives.”

Viv Jebson, V 64 Yorkshire Member since 2009

to travel the world with his wife and family. So, with all three dreams nearly under his belt, what’s next? “I will always fi nd more.”

No limits: Julian prepares for his Virgin Galactic 2012 adventure.

emerged the victors.” “The collective power of my group, my one-to-ones and the top-class speakers enabled me to manage this period without any ‘mis-steps’ when it would have been easy to make catastrophic mistakes.” After selling STASYS, Julian seized the opportunity

In 2007, Julian launched angel investment company J Ranger Limited, which includes investment hub iBundle. With iBundle supporting four start-ups, Julian is now working with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, through his charity, REEF, to get more engineers in the UK by motivating young people to gain science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. Julian’s group continues to support him as his career evolves – he’s sticking with Vistage until at least 2013. “At Vistage no-one is on an agenda and I gain new and different insights. I love being constantly challenged, and always come back for more!”

Julian Ranger, V 427 Surrey Member since 2001

Member Bulletin | Summer 2010 5

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