We pick up once again with Pamela Easen, Founder of H1 Healthcare, and her son and co-CEO Sam Easen, to talk about the highs and lows of running a family business. In this blog, read about how Pam and Sam failed when it came to separating work life from home life, and how they worked together when they hit a rocky patch during the 2008 recession
Sophie: Hello both! So, let’s continue from where we left off. Pam – you had been running your healthcare recruitment company in Banchory, Aberdeen, for a few years, and Sam – you had just graduated and turned down a job in New York in order to stay and play a part in building and running the business. That was a bold move.
Sam: It was, but it was also the start of our journey.
Sophie: While you’ve been on this journey, I imagine one challenge has been trying to separate work life from family life – how did you achieve this?
Sam: To be honest, we didn’t in the early stages.
Pam: Yes, you’re right. We very much took work home with us. But that’s the nature of our industry. It’s care, care never sleeps. It’s a wonderful sector to work in, very humbling, but the responsibilities are huge.
Sam: But we’ve worked on that, and we’ve worked on having mutual respect for one another. We always had it, but it wasn’t quite so evident.
Pam: And we realised the importance of individual strengths; you have strengths that I don’t have and I have strengths that you don’t have, and the key is to acknowledge that and then ensure that we’re working to where our individual skills and talents lie.
Sam: I think establishing roles and responsibilities is integral, although admittedly we didn’t do that until later on.
Sophie: What about the fact that as well as business partners, you’re also mother and son. How did you tackle that?
Pam: Personally, I found this incredibly difficult. Sam is still my son, my child. My kids are all grown up now – but they are still and always will be my children. And that, for any family business, will always be tricky. And that’s why, in my opinion, so many run into problems.
Sophie: Can you recall a time when things were challenging for you, both as mother and son and as business partners, and how you got through that as a team?
Pam: Yes, in 2008 we hit a bit of a rocky patch. It was the recession and neither of us had grown a business so large and so quickly. It was your first business really wasn’t it, Sam? And it was also a very different business to the ones I’d been running recently, which were care homes.
We had some financial difficulties, which proved to be extremely hard for both of us, and we each had our own ideas about how we should address these issues. We took advice from certain people and I signed some things I shouldn’t have signed. But Sam – very luckily and very cleverly – found a loop and we got out of it. Without him, we in all seriousness wouldn’t have a business today. So yes, you’re still my child but I have utter trust and faith in you and your abilities.
Sam: I think that this demonstrates something that I think is unique about our organisation, or should I say family companies in general, which is what might be a breaking point in a traditional business partnership is not necessarily the same as if you’re in a family business.
Pam: No, because you’re fighting together for the whole of the family. This business is very important for the six children and for my husband and Sam’s partner. It’s vital that it succeeds. It’s our family’s legacy.
To hear more from Pam & Sam listen to the Qintil Podcast "The Business of People"