Name: Ian Barnet.
What is your business called? Shearer Candles.
Where is it based? Govan, Glasgow.
What does it produce, what services does it offer? We are candle manufacturers specialising in lifestyle, church and dining candles.
We also have a shop onsite, The Candle Store, selling our latest and full range.
To whom does it sell? We make millions of candles a year as each of the two production lines in our factory has the capability to produce six tonnes of candles every 24 hours, which are then shipped to major British supermarkets and department stores including Waitrose.
We ship to retailers and distributors around Europe, America and Japan and sell to consumers via our online shop www.shearer-candles.com and at our factory shop.
What is its turnover? Approximately £3 million.
How many employees? We have around 50 members of staff.
When was it formed? It was established in 1897 by Mr Shearer and Mr Harvey, both chandlers from Glasgow's Candleriggs.
Our family first came into contact with Shearer Candles in the early 1970s when my father Ronald Turner Barnet approached the company to produce candles for his hotel; the former Beacon's Hotel in Glasgow.
In those days, the company was struggling so customers had to pay for their own wax before a single candle was poured. My father recognised the potential so bought the company in 1972 and a year later the mining strike began which meant candle production went into overdrive and provided the company with the additional revenue needed to invest in new machinery.
Why did you take the plunge? When my father bought the company I would help out a couple of hours here and there which quickly turned to days.
It wasn't long before I was working full time and I became managing director in the late 1970s. Alongside my wife Rosey, who is artistic director of the company, we became sole owners in 1986.
What were you doing before you took the plunge? I was working in house furnishing and I would measure carpets and curtains for sale.
I left school a year before graduating to work with my father which is my favourite memory from school. I think my father was extremely happy about not having to pay another year of school fees.
How did you raise the start-up funding? The company was already in existence when I took over but over the years we have accessed bank funding in order to develop and expand the business.
A £1m improvement fund allowed us to add additional office space and a ne 900 square metre warehouse to our purposely built factory in Govan. It allowed us to invest in new extrusion technology which doubled our production and it helped us to take on more staff.
What was your biggest break? We gained Habitat as a customer in the late 70s which gave the company a new lease of life. It was the leading interior design retailer on the high street and positioned candles as a lifestyle choice for the masses.
At the time we were concentrating on church and plain white dining candles but my wife Rosey was a former textile designer and she knew there was an ongoing trend in London and some parts of Europe to use candles as fashion accessories.
We wanted to tap into the lifestyle market and let people know that candles didn't have to be formal and boring.
We knew if we approached it in the right way and we were creative we could develop the business significantly.
Rosey helped to steer the company in this new direction and we began producing high-end lifestyle candles which today accounts for 80% of our sales.
In the 1970s, Habitat was a high-profile store and winning that contract really put Shearer out there so that it wasn't just people in Glasgow who knew about the company.
As time went on the market changed and Shearer began expanding into different markets.
What was your worst moment? The Banana Wars in 1999 – where the US imposed a retaliatory range of 100% import duties on European products, encompassing everything from Scottish cashmere to French cheese and candles. As a result we had to watch helplessly as our US market disappeared virtually overnight.
However, we used the time wisely to investigate new markets and not only did we win back our American business once the trade dispute was resolved but at this time we also became the leading candle supplier to some of the UK's top retailers including Waitrose, John Lewis and Sainsbury's.
What do you most enjoy about running the business? Over the years I've enjoyed all aspects of running the business, from securing a new customer to seeing a new range for the first time, but the thing I've come to enjoy the most is problem solving. I like a challenge and there is nothing in the business that I won't take on.
What do you least enjoy? Time wasting.
What are your ambitions for the firm? We want to continue to grow and to further develop our home and export business so we can increase our market share. We are always keen to open up further sales channels and Rosey is intent on increasing the brand profile.
We would love to start selling into China; our Highland range is very popular in Japan and we feel we have the heritage and the products to target China.
We freely admit that candles can be made more cheaply overseas than in Scotland but we feel we have an edge in quality which allows us to keep winning business. Some years ago we did go through a rough patch when China began to flood the candle market.
We did see our sales dip but it wasn't long before customers were coming back because there could be quality issues with products from China.
Now the products aren't that much cheaper as things on a global level are more similar now but the quality is still an issue.
What are your top priorities? Our main priority is always to keep our customers happy by offering them what we believe to be quality, evolving ranges. This in turn will increase our market share which will lead to an increase in profits.
What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help? Make a worldwide business level playing field. It is really hard to compete when different countries such as China has different legislation to the UK and the European Union.
We would like some form of deregulation which would allow us to compete on a worldwide stage.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned? Wait to decide to allow for consideration. It can be easy to jump straight into something that excites you but a clear head and deliberating is always beneficial. Then you can look at the decision objectively and make the right choice for your business.
How do you relax? Playing guitar and listening to Blues music. I'm also an avid water skier and used to water ski for the Scottish team in the 1970s.