Published 20th of January 2014

Shredall and SDS is one of the UK’s largest independently owned Document Shredding, Recycling, Document Storage and Document Scanning companies. Originally set up by myself back in 1997, I was the only the second mobile shredding company in Europe. In 2010 I made the company a wholly owned family business.

My children Lucy and Nik were invited to join the Board of Directors. They had worked for the company over the previous 13 years and I felt they had earned it as young professionals in their own right through their valuable input and hard work for the company.

Lucy is now the Managing Director for Shredall and SDS Document Storage and Scanning, whilst Nik is the Group Sales Director responsible for the company sales Nationwide, focusing on specialist services throughout the East Midlands, Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire from our Nottingham branch, with daily collections in our core areas of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. We route our vehicles into Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and every city in-between. Shredall/SDS cover all of the Birmingham conurbation weekly, along with NHS and Legal Law Practice contracts in Northampton, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire and the Home Counties, down to our London office, where we service The City of London daily covering all routes necessary. Our Scotland office is based in Lanarkshire making it easy for us to cover Glasgow, Sterling, Falkirk, Livingstone and Edinburgh with vehicles regularly routed into Dundee and Aberdeen amongst all other cities in Central Scotland and the surrounding areas.

Some of the UK's oldest family businesses have survived for almost 500 years. So recently I have been thinking what have they been doing right to make them so enduring?

According to the Institute for Family Business (IFB), there are around three million family firms in the UK. Let’s look at a handful below who are thought to be among the oldest.

RJ Balson & Son - Butcher - Established 1515

If Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had visited Bridport in Dorset, they could have eaten meat sold by Balson's the butcher.

Records show Robert Balson rented a market stall in 1515 in the "Shambles" - an open-air meat market where animals were slaughtered and blood would drip into the gutter on the street. A messy scene, the word shambles later came to be associated with disorder.

Descendants of Robert continued to rent a stall there. The family survived the arrival of bubonic plague in the town during the 17th Century.

In the Victorian era tragedy struck the business. Owner Arthur Balson, started living with a married woman and her young son Tom. During a game, Tom pretended to shoot Arthur with a gun, but did not realise it was loaded and accidentally shot Arthur dead in 1859. The business was taken over by Arthur's younger brother Richard.

Balson's is now run by Richard's great-great-grandson Richard Balson and uses recipes handed down through the generations.

On sale are ox cheeks and Bath chaps - a west country term for pig's cheeks.

Offering personal and attentive customer service has kept shoppers coming back over the centuries. Balson says he helps sort out his customers' problems from behind the counter.

"Usually if they've got a problem it's because they are not eating enough meat," he adds.

James Lock & Co - Hatters - Established 1676

Lock & Co's shop in the 19th Century

Following the great plague of 1665 and the great fire of 1666, wealthy residents from the City of London moved to the west of the city in search of clean air. Entrepreneurial shopkeepers spotted the exodus and opened up businesses in the emerging West End.

Choosing the right location was crucial to establishing James Lock & Co. With a shop close to St James Palace, the firm became milliners to the gentry and the military.

Over the years customers included Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, but its most famous product was the very first bowler hat in 1850.

While its mainstay is traditional headwear, such as fedoras and Trilbies, the shop also makes sure it keeps up to date with the latest trends. So as well as holding Royal warrants supplying hats to the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, Lock & Co says its hats have also been worn by Hollywood film stars and rappers.

Aspall Cyder - Cider makers - Established 1728

A document dated 1729 contains information on the purchase of apples

Tracing their history back to the Crusades as associates of the Knights Templar, Aspall Cyder is now run by Barry and Henry, the eighth generation of Chevalliers. According to their family tree, King Henry I can be counted as their great grandfather, 26 times removed.

The business began when Clement Benjamin Chevallier, from Jersey, inherited Aspall Hall in Suffolk, but started to miss his favourite alcoholic drink.

Apple trees from Jersey were planted in the grounds and the brewery is still located at Aspall today.

As well as their long heritage, the company is not afraid to pioneer new techniques, producing vinegars as well as cider and apple juice.

By Lloyd Williams