I'd like to give a little nod today to a lesser-known hardback released last year. This came to me not, as it usually might, from an editor or agent, but from my Mother, ever-interested in my intellectual growth, at Christmas.
I'm about to appear to go off-topic, but bear with me: whenever I am in an airport, I peruse the business books. My favourite purchase this far from this strangely instinctual pull has been Richard Branson's Business Stripped Bare. In fact, not only was it my favorite, i was the only useful purchase I've made in the WH Smith in Terminal 3 at Heathrow.
With the recession just behind us, and perhaps another dip ahead, bookshop shelves are stacked with advice on how to multiply your money. I'd suggest an alternative financial solution: don't buy them. Order The Trebor Story from your nearest indie bookshop!
The history of a British family firm that started with four working people in the East End of London and grew to a sweetie superpower, it's a fascinating insight into Trebor's successful business practices, and particularly into how their treatment of employees added to their achievements in the world marketplace.
From the beginning, they budgeted for pensions and benevolence funds and never made their employees work night shifts. Even in the depression of the 30s, they didn't cut away at their investment in the happiness and health of their workers, and, partly because of this and the loyalty they gained, they always managed to be profitable and innovative. It drew sad comparisons with the values and inner workings of modern food giants and investment companies and their 'above all: money' brand of ethics.
The book is also delightfully put together, with many photographs of past employees and occasions, documentation of work method and advertising campaigns and explanation of Trebor's growth into African, American and European markets.
In this cut-throat, every-man-for-himself age, this thorough history and analysis of a respected and profitable company of the past proved excellent, timely and wise reading.