Scotch whisky company Edrington is a refreshing example of how to run and expand a business by taking a long-term view, rather than becoming obsessed with the type of short-run moves too often favoured by stock market-listed companies. And by not losing sight of a loyal workforce that has enabled its success.
Staying true to the principles of its founding family, Edrington has grown into a global player in its sector with brands including The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Highland Park and Cutty Sark. And all of this has happened under the ownership of a charitable trust put in place by the Robertson sisters back in 1961, when they donated their shares in Robertson & Baxter and Clyde Bonding Company to a new parent company, named Edrington after one of their farms.
Two crucial elements of Edrington's success are a willingness to invest, and a focus on the wellbeing of staff.
These might sound like basic enough points.
However, far too often companies steer clear of spending money now to produce growth in coming years because they become overly obsessed with delivering steady profit progression or even merely with squeezing out the maximum possible earnings in the short run. This is not always their fault, given that some institutional investors, which should know better, have a tendency to take fright over any move by publicly quoted companies to sacrifice short-term profit for longer-term gain.
Meanwhile, in terms of staff, there is probably an inverse relationship between burgeoning human resources bureaucracy and the wellbeing and consequently the contribution of employees.
Sir Ian Good, who this summer retired as chairman of Edrington after spending more than 40 years with the company, said of Elspeth, Agnes and Ethel "Babs" Robertson: "The Miss Robertsons ... just epitomised all that you try to envisage in a company: integrity and philosophy and an interest in people. It is probably old-fashioned. It is still very core to us."
Family-owned Thomas Tunnock, the caramel wafer and tea cake manufacturer, is another fine example of a company with a focus, from the very top, on its loyal workforce.
Too often, you hear companies talking about long-serving staff as if they were an expensive hindrance, rather than an asset with their decades of experience in these tough economic times. It is, therefore, always heartening to see companies that look after their people and actually value a loyal and experienced workforce, an attitude which often appears diametrically opposed to those big corporate models which feature no end of policies and procedures but actually lose sight of the individuals.
When Tunnock announced a hike in profits last November, company secretary Bruce Reidford thanked the business's generally long-serving workforce of more than 500 people.
"They work very hard and are very loyal to the family," he declared.
Tunnock, based in Uddingston in Lanarkshire, is a business thoroughly embedded in its community, and well aware of its long-term responsibilities in this regard. Its 80-year-old chairman, Boyd Tunnock, does not need to read a management textbook to know how to look after the people who work for him.
Food manufacturer Baxters, based at Fochabers in Moray, is another big employer which is crucial to its local community, and has, under its family ownership, enjoyed significant expansion through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions.
Douglas Rae, the 82-year-old founder of Greenock-based sweetie manufacturer Golden Casket, also values his long-serving workforce, and has highlighted the fact that "many people" have worked for the company for more than 25 years.
And the family-run Auchrannie, which has developed a major hotel and spa resort on the Isle of Arran and won the rural family business and customer service excellence categories in The Herald's Scottish Family Business Awards last year, keeps on a core staff of more than 100 over the winter to ensure it retains an experienced and loyal workforce.
Auchrannie company accountant Colin Morrison has said : "We probably have more staff than business might justify in the winter, but we see that as a benefit for the rest of the year because the staff know the business and know the resort and we are not having to train a lot of staff at the start of the season when things are getting quite busy."
This approach at Auchrannie is basic common sense.
Unfortunately, basic common sense and an awareness of what makes people tick is all too often lacking in the corporate world these days.
A booklet celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Robertson Trust, which has since 1961 given more than £125 million to charities, features a wonderful quote from "Miss Babs", the sister who focused on the Edrington whisky business. She said: "I want everyone to feel special and valued, and they will see what they can aspire to."
How many corporate leaders would, deep down, share that vision these days?