Leading Highland business, the Cairngorm Group, has been recognised as the Best Family Business at the inaugural Highland Business Awards 2013. Launched by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the awards honour the top Highland companies.

Now run by the third and fourth generation of the founding family, the Cairngorm Group is a worthy winner of the Best Family Business Award. It was set up in 1953 by the late William Gray, who was soon joined by his son-in-law Alasdair Dowling.

Alasdair retired some 15 years ago, but retains a keen interest in the company he helped build into the successful multi-faceted business it is today.

Alasdair’s son David Dowling is the current managing director and he works alongside sons Chris and Scott who are also directors in the business and expect to succeed their father when he retires.

As the company grew, the directors recognised the need to bring in someone of significant financial experience to ensure that the board is always up to date with the group finances and future projections. This crucial role has been filled for the last two years by group finance director Paul Wilson.

Installations director Graeme Bennett has been a director for around 20 years and has overseen the development of the installation side of the business from one fitting team to the six currently employed, as well as the expansion into conservatories.

He is now heading up the new kitchen business.

Each family member has a clear role: David Dowling is managing director with a special emphasis on sales and marketing; Chris focuses on administration, IT, and health and safety and looks after Inverness Glass; while younger brother Scott has responsibility for production and supply to trade clients.

“We’re thrilled to have won the first Best Family Business Award,” David Dowling commented.

“Being a family business is a matter of great pride to us and the family ethos is firmly embedded into everything we do. It is our family reputation at stake, so we’re determined to make sure we continue running a quality company, providing our customers with the best service and products we possibly can.”

A strategy of constant innovation and reinvention has allowed Cairngorm to grow over the last 60 years from its original glazing company, Inverness Glass, which remains an essential part of the business, into the diverse company it is today.

There are successful divisions in conservatories, double glazing, UPVC windows and doors in addition to a complete trade service in Alba Trade Windows.

Realising the growing importance of renewable energy, Cairngorm expanded into solar power with an increasingly popular photovoltaic solar panels range. New and exciting areas within the business are fitted kitchens, biomass heating and air source heat pumps.

Cairngorm’s fast-growing client base now stretches through most of Scotland and it has branches in Elgin, Thurso and Aberdeen. Its principal market is throughout the Highlands and Islands but in recent years it has expanded to Moray and Aberdeenshire, and now also supplies a significant volume of windows in the central belt. Cairngorm’s family ethos sits right at the heart of the company and it provides a supportive environment for staff with a real commitment to training and development. Many employees have been with them for their entire careers.

The Dowling family collected their well- deserved award at the Highland Business Awards Lunch at the Drumossie Hotel on Thursday 26th September. The awards are run by Inverness Chamber of Commerce in partnership with official media partners, Scottish Provincial Press, as part of the successful Highland Business Week.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the awards,” David Dowling said.

“It was a real honour to win, especially in the first year of the awards, and the same year we’re celebrating our 60th birthday!”

Download the Highland Executive article here in PDF format.

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