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18 June 2024

A Legacy of Stewardship – Passing the Torch to Our Employees


GUEST COLUMN:

Amanda Griffiths
Director
Melin Tregwynt

When my husband and I contemplated the future of Melin Tregwynt, which had been run by our family since 1912, the weight of our decision was not just about continuing a business.

It was far more than that – it was about preserving a legacy. The Griffiths family has been weaving here for more than one hundred years. My husband Eifion’s grandfather, Henry, bought the mill in 1912 for £760, and through the generations it evolved beyond a business. It became a vital part of our community's fabric in a remote rural area of Wales.

Without children of our own, continuing the route of family succession was not an option. As we got older, the urgency to secure a future for Melin Tregwynt that upheld our values and commitment to the community grew.

We employ 44 people, providing stable, year-round jobs that are not just livelihoods but are also integral to the local economy and social structure here in Pembrokeshire. The thought of walking away or selling to an outsider who might not share our vision or dedication to the area was unsettling.

Over the years, Melin Tregwynt has become incredibly diverse. First and foremost of course we are a mill and we are proud to fly the flag for British manufacturing. But we also have a café, offer tours and take bookings for special occasions, so our footprint extends to tourism, hospitality and of course the export market. This diversification has not only strengthened our business but also enriched its contribution to Wales’ cultural ecosystem.

It’s a point of pride that our mill has become a real asset to the community, and ensuring its continuation is a responsibility my husband and I took to heart.

The decision to transition ownership to our employees through an Employee Ownership Trust was inspired by a desire to preserve this legacy. Many friends who sold their businesses shared stories of loss – loss of control over the brand they built, and a disconnection from the company they once held dear.

For us, preserving the brand and family identity that has been nurtured for more than a century was crucial. We wanted to protect and continue the rare and special skills developed at the mill, and most importantly, sustain the opportunities for the people who have become our extended family.

Employee ownership seemed like the natural path forward. This model not only empowers our staff and integrates their welfare into the fabric of the business' future but also secures the continuity of the business’ ethos and operations. By passing the torch to our employees, we’re not just leaving a business; we’re entrusting a century-old legacy to those who have contributed the most to its success.

This decision has imbued our business with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. Our employees, now co-owners, are more invested than ever, driving innovation and ensuring the mill remains a cornerstone of the community. They are not just maintaining the traditions of Melin Tregwynt – they are evolving them, ready to meet the challenges of the future while staying true to the values that have defined our past.

As I reflect on this journey, I am filled with gratitude. The mill that once started as a family venture has grown into a community treasure, and with our employees at the helm, I am confident in its future. This is our way of giving back to a community that has given us so much, ensuring that the legacy of Melin Tregwynt thrives long into the future, nurtured by the hands of those who cherish it as we do.


 



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