With 14 vans out on-the-road, 30 staff and never quite being able to stop, the business had become more than any of the family had really wanted it to be. London, in particular, was causing far too many problems.
Anybody celebrating their fiftieth birthday in 2019 would be able to look back and marvel at just how much has changed. Fifty years ago, colour TV had only just been launched, the Beatles performed their last ever concert on the roof of Apple Records, the fifty pence coin was minted for the first time, and the QE2 set off on her maiden voyage. Depending on your age, some of that might not seem all that historic, but when you think about the advances in technology, it is staggering. Telephones were mostly circular dial operated, TV remote controls were still connected by a wire, and there is more computerised power in a simple digital watch today than in the spaceship that took Neil Armstrong and his crew to the moon in 1969.
So, how is it that a traditional family business in its fiftieth year is providing its customers with the most advanced, cutting edge entertainment and smart home solutions that 2019 has to offer? Matthews Simply Connecting Limited’s story is a perfect example of foresight and market awareness, sublime agility and adaption, and being brave enough to take big actions. Without these impressive qualities and a bold vision, the company would, without doubt, have gone the way of the VHS video cassette, the ten-shilling note and the fax machine long ago.
Always ahead of its time
The company was originally known as Matthew Aerials Ltd, and at least one member of the Voss family has worked there since 1970, the year after it was formed. Michael Voss began working for Matthew Aerials, at 19 years old, putting up and maintaining TV aerials as a young engineer. Over time he became a manager in the business and eventually a Partner; before taking over full ownership with his wife Christine in 1985.
Even back in those early days, the company was investing in future technologies; riding the new wave and evolution of television and exploring the growing world of telecommunications. Then, as satellite systems and cabled connections began to enter the mainstream, there was the Voss family, ready to embrace and adopt these newer technologies into their portfolio. The business was renamed, Matthew Aerial and Satellite Systems Ltd, and began moving into the audiovisual marketplace within both commercial and domestic premises.
Michael and Christine’s son, Jamie Voss, had joined the business a few years earlier and was soon involved in leading its early steps into these and other emerging areas of audiovisual and entertainment.
Big city revenue VS lifestyle and sanity
In the mid-1990s, business was in full swing for Matthew Aerial and Satellite Systems, almost to the point of being out of control. The majority of the revenue, in those days, was coming out of Central London from organisations like Barclays Bank and HSBC, The Ritz and The Hilton, and several high-profile retail stores such as Harrods. The company even looked after all the live satellite feeds for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
With 14 vans out on-the-road, 30 staff and never quite being able to stop, the business had become more than any of the family had really wanted it to be. London, in particular, was causing far too many problems. On average they were accumulating 4-5 parking tickets per day, travel and hold-ups were limiting engineers to less than 4 hours on site each day, and it was getting harder and harder to find good quality staff.
It was time for some big decisions to be made. Did the family want the kudos and vanity of the big city revenue or a calmer lifestyle and some more profitable sanity? It seems such an obvious decision to make, on paper. But the reality it that it takes true bravery and nerves of steel to turn away work and stop answering the phone.
A new focus and more change on the horizon
So, they decided to close the door on London altogether and concentrate on local clients where they could provide better service levels, cover more ground and stop running the business on such ludicrously tight margins.
This shift in direction and focus was around 2003, and it was a few years later that the company was introduced to Paul Meades of Meades Group. He was able to help advise them and ensure that the financial side of the business was kept on track during this period. It was also down to Paul to share the good news of increased profitability, despite the initial drop in turnover. As Meades transitioned over to becoming a realtime cloud accounting provider, with Xero as its first-choice solution, Matthew Aerial and Satellite Systems followed. This switch has brought the numbers within the business to life for the Voss family (particularly Christine who looks after the accounts) and helped to reassure them that their decision to scale back and refocus was both sure and timely.
From that time, high-end domestic properties became more of a focus for the company; and they became experts at designing, supplying and installing the very best in audiovisual and lighting equipment.
2018, the third Voss generation and beyond…
The thing about change is that it doesn’t ever really stop; and if the last fifty years is anything to go by, the next fifty are likely to be even more dramatic. One thing is certain, however, that the technology world is changing faster than pretty much anything else and only companies who are ready for it will cope.
Early in 2018, with Jamie as the Managing Director, and Ben (his nephew) heading the technology side of the business, they made the biggest and bravest move in the company’s entire history. It wasn’t an overnight decision, nor an easy one, and they consulted many trusted sources, family, Meades and other business contacts before making the call – but it had to be done. They started again…
Businesses need certain ingredients for success. Some of the key ones are a genuine demand for the products and services, generating profitable income, the ability to deliver and most of all passion and ambition from the people running the business. Jamie recognised that some of these ingredients were looking shaky and the last one was running on empty – so with the family 100% behind him, they decided to start again from scratch.
The company now trades as is Matthews Simply Connecting Limited and its sole focus is installing smart technologies and the latest AV and lighting equipment into people’s homes. With Ben forever exploring the scope of technical possibility to blow their customers away with results, and Jamie at the helm, the future is bright indeed.
Their service is more than just supplying tech, however: it is about service. Whether it is fitting out a one-bedroom flat in Watford or the most advanced home cinema room in Loudwater, London or the Home Counties; Jamie, Ben and the team listen first and then design and deliver the most exciting solution the market has to offer.
Nearly two years into the new business and everyone is happy. They have a handful of enthusiastic staff, customers who love them, suppliers who venerate them, a profitable turnover close to the heady heights of their London heydays, and an accountant who couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.
How could Matthews help you?
To find out more about Matthews, visit simplymatthews.co.uk. You’ll learn how Matthews work with partners including Arcam, Crestron, Lutron, Control 4 to deliver: