Meet the client – Black Sheep Brewery

The relationship between Black Sheep Brewery’s now Non-Executive Director, Tony Robinson, and Greystone’s Director, Paul Heap, goes back over 24 years when he was introduced to Tony and the brewery business by his accountant.

Black Sheep’s story is an intriguing one. In a brave move after the family’s brewing dynasty T & R Theakston was taken over by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, Paul Theakson decided to leave the fold, literally – hence the name Black Sheep suggested by wife Sue – and start his own brewery in Masham where his Great, Great Grandfather originally began in 1827.

More than 20 years later, Black Sheep has weathered some of the most tumultuous times in British brewing history with the sixth generation of the Theakston family brewing heritage now proudly part of the story, with Paul’s eldest son Rob as Managing Director, and second son Jo as Sales and Marketing Director.

Over time Paul, became the trusted adviser of both the family and the business and tells us how the relationship evolved into real friendship.

“Initially I went along to see Tony to set up a pension scheme for his business. In 1992, during the course of my involvement with Tony, Paul Theakston was in the process of setting up the brewery and had recognized that his staff had pension requirements and was asked to set a scheme up for all Black Sheep employees.

“I remember first meeting Paul; his excitement was palpable. The prospect of establishing a pioneering new brewery, built on traditional values and rescued equipment designed to brew beer with real flavour in a world that at the time offered bland, mass produced beer positively thrilled him. He was surrounded with what can only be described as a big boy’s Meccano kit as he acquired second hand equipment from other breweries.

“Alongside financial planning, we have shared many a pint together celebrating the success of the brewery as it went from strength to strength including winning the silver medal in the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)’s “Champion Winter Beer of Britain” 2000 competition. But the absolute highlight for me personally was enjoying the 2014 Tour de France weekend in Yorkshire’s beautiful sunshine, with Paul’s sons Rob and Jo who, like me, are both passionate cyclists.”

Paul Theakston values the personal relationship he and Paul have.

“It’s a service you no longer get with the banks”, he says. “Banks today are very formulaic in their approach; it takes a very personal relationship to interpret and manage your finances.

My wife Sue and I have absolute trust in Paul to give us great advice and steer us forward. Just the fact we have known each other for so long instills confidence that he has a full understanding and knowledge of our situation, both from a personal and business perspective.

The best bit is that I’ve never had to think about it. Paul always does a brilliant job and now retirement is a reality, suddenly all the ‘dry stuff’ Paul has explained to me over the years has come to fruition. The brewery has taken up most of our time and energy, so the fact that Sue and I have been able to leave our finances in Paul’s capable hands has meant we could focus on building the business for future generations of Theakstons.”

Paul and Sue have four sons, two of whom chose to work alongside him at Black Sheep. Rob became joint Managing Director alongside his father in 2010, and took over full time when Paul became Chairman in 2011.

Both Rob and Jo are now married with six children between them and Paul Heap has also been managing their personal portfolios for many years and, like the business, this has been passed down from father to sons.

“It just seemed to be a natural progression to choose Paul as our financial adviser” explained Jo, “He had been managing Dad’s affairs for years and we trusted him to continue as our family adviser.”

Rob agreed: “To be honest Jo and I have been so busy with the business that we’ve not really taken much interest until now as retirement seemed such a long way off, but once you hit 40 there comes the sudden realization that it’s not that far away and means we’re both glad to have left it in Paul’s capable hands.”

“Absolutely” continued Jo: “The fact that Paul holds a deep appreciation of our beers adds to the pleasure of our meetings of course; we always finish with a pint in the Brewery Visitor Centre afterwards.”

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