In 1976, the year before I was born, my grandpa Les Bowen established the company Bomac Electric Ltd with his business partner Bert McMath. Les and Bert met when they worked together at Liverpool firm Elexcel Limited (brand name XCEL) which produced electric irons, fires, kettles, cookers & immersion heaters. Les had held a sales role in the company and Bert a technical role and between them they saw an opportunity to set up a business. Bomac Electric was set up initially to specialize in heating element manufacturing.
Les Bowen & Bert McMath (Founders of Bomac Electric Ltd)
In 1981 Bert passed away and later Les handed the business to his son Peter, my dad. My brother Richard who had a natural aptitude for electrical engineering joined the business in his early 20’s but in 2013 chose to leave the business and go it alone setting up as a self-employed electrician.
The future of Bomac was then planned to leave the family and a buyer was found, but fate had other plans and shortly after the sale fell through my dad was sadly diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in August 2016. My brother got back involved with the business when my dad had to have emergency surgery to remove his kidney and the large tumour that had grown outside of it. The cancer had spread into his lymph nodes so post a successful 9 hour operation and a speedy recovery my dad commenced with drug therapy to attempt to reduce the tumours in his lymph nodes. ‘Toxic tablets’ he called them as whilst they kept the cancer at bay for a while they slowly took his taste, energy, enthusiasm and hair and eyebrow colour! By Christmas 2017 his health seemed to be rapidly deteriorating, my brother was still doing work for Bomac on a consultancy basis but was starting to feel the pressure and responsibility of running the business falling on to him. I had spent the best part of 17 years building up a career within the large corporate world working for telecoms giant Virgin Media. It was the evening of Wednesday 6th December 2017, I had been at at a senior leaders meeting in Manchester and whilst the team were heading for an early Christmas night out I headed home early to attend the funeral of my close friend Sharon Addy who’s life had been cut short at the age of 57 after an 8 year battle with multiple myeloma. I sat on the platform of Manchester airport station waiting for my train home to Southport when my brother called to download the stresses of his day, we had spoken earlier on and cried about our dad. As I sat and listened to him talk anxiously about the responsibility of the business I reflected on my day and said ‘why don’t I help you? Why don’t I come and run Bomac with you?’ I don’t know what I expected his response to be but he immediately jumped at the idea and we spent the next half an hour or so dreaming of what we could do with the business together, his technical genius and my deep business knowledge, we were so engrossed that I sat and let my train leave the station before realising and adding an extra hour to my journey!
Whilst we chatted excitedly, at the back of my head I really believed it was just a dream and that my dad would never go for it. Reminiscing about that day now I like to believe that my friend Sharon was influencing things. I met Sharon whilst studying for a degree in Business Management, Sharon was a mature student and to be honest played a massive part in me achieving a 2:1 grade. Sharon was so intelligent without knowing it and inspired and encouraged me to study, she always asked me why I didn’t join my dad’s business and I told her the same as I told anyone who asked; ‘my dad has never asked me’ and whilst that was the truth I understood why. My dad went straight into the family business and so didn’t benefit from gaining experience outside, he also knew how difficult it had become in the UK to keep a manufacturing business going, he wanted me to gain the experience of building a career for myself. How grateful I am to him for that. The experience I have gained working for a large organisation, progressing through the ranks to head up a department of >100 people, the business and leadership skills I have gained, I know I could never have gained from a small family business.
On our annual Christmas shopping trip I was plucking up the courage to discuss the possibility of me joining the business with my dad. He was struggling that day and fearing he was running out of time I didn’t have to ask as he brought up the subject of the business and what would happen to it and then started to ask if I would be interested in helping, he didn’t have to finish his sentence I said I would love to help!
Since then we planned my joining Bomac and my dad started on a new immune therapy treatment which has been like a miracle. He has his taste, energy, enthusiasm and eyebrow colour back! It’s like he’s been given his life back and now I am bringing the Mac back to Bomac!
In the words of the great Sir Richard Branson ‘If someone offers you a great opportunity and you’re not sure if you can do it, say Yes then learn how to do it later’. As 2018 comes to a close and I reflect on the year, for the Bowen’s, the McDonald’s and Bomac the year has been kind to us and we are looking forward to Christmas, my dad is a million times better than he was last Christmas and we have made great progress with the business. As we head into 2019 we feel optimistic about the future of Bomac and look forward to the challenge of taking the business to the next level.
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy Christmas and best wishes for 2019
Richard Bowen (Technical Director), Julia McDonald (Commercial & Marketing Director) and Peter Bowen (Managing Director) at Bomac Electric Ltd