A fond farewell | MHA Carpenter Box

A fond farewell

And it’s goodbye from Chris Coopey…

As some of you will know, I have headed west. My wife and I recently moved into a lovely Georgian house in Devon which is a little too far to commute to Worthing from so, after 14 years I have retired from MHA Carpenter Box.

My time at the firm has been an unbelievable journey and I have been fortunate enough to have made some amazing friends, both in and out of the business.

Within the business of course, my Partners have been instrumental in allowing me to push in directions that they had no real experience of. From rebranding to organising business awards, from penning radio adverts to organising business forums, they have always been willing to give things a go when they saw there was value to our clients.

The hard work and loyalty of the whole MHA Carpenter Box team has also been an inspiration. My 14 years’ service is amateurish when compared to some who have been with the firm for well over 30 years!

Who says accountancy isn’t exciting?

In my time I’ve dealt with the aftermath of a fire and a minor flood, compered numerous business events, headed national groups, appeared on TV and radio, judged and presented awards, repaired toilets, chairs, desks and I.T. equipment and several thousand other things I can’t now recall!

There’s more to business than business

The firm has also retained a belief in community. The fundraising that has gone on here over many, many years has seen good causes benefiting all over the county and beyond. Our own charitable foundation (celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year) has raised an amazing amount of money for some wonderful charities.

My own part in that has been putting together and hosting quizzes for charities and charitable purposes – something I really enjoyed doing and which raised around £50k over the many years I cooked them up.

In the beginning…

When I arrived at what was then just ‘Carpenter Box’, I found an accountancy firm based in Worthing housed in fairly typical Victorian/Edwardian offices within a stone’s throw of each other into which around 65 people were tucked.

The Partners who persuaded me in wanted their firm to become something more than the High Street practice it was then perceived to be, and that was part of the job that I was asked to do. The key was not so much about developing the business as telling its story, because even back in 2005, there was already a great story to tell.

Fast forward and we’ve built a firm that has grown into an award-winning practice of almost 180 people with offices in Worthing, Gatwick and Brighton. It has developed sector specialisms to mirror the clients it serves and is a founding member of MHA, a national association and part of Baker Tilly International, a global network. Importantly though, it has retained an ethos that measures its own success by the success of its clients, whatever their size which is what brought me to the firm in the first place.

Highlights

Surprisingly easy this one. The firm has picked up an amazing number of awards during my time (and continues to do so!). If I had to choose one that tops my list it would be The Business of the Year Award at The Gatwick Diamond Business Awards in 2018. There are an amazing number of fabulous businesses in the Gatwick Diamond, so to be recognised as the best was just fabulous!

Perhaps the top of my list will come as a surprise though. In August 2013, as part of our community programme, I was privileged to organise and compere a one-off event at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing which was sponsored by the firm. We filled the theatre that night because the show was pretty unique. There were 7 chairs with 6 of them being filled by smartly dressed old men. The youngest was in his very late 80s and the oldest was in or near his mid-90s. The ‘Bomber Boys’ as they were called had all served in the RAF’s Bomber Command in the Second World War.

Some of them had been shot down and against the odds survived the horror of escaping from a spiralling, fire-riven aircraft before becoming a POW. Some had taken part in famous raids such as Peenemunde or the Bielefeld Viaduct. All were very young men at the time (late teens, early 20s) and extraordinarily brave (though they denied this). Their stories were simply told with the wry humour that age and experience can bring.

We raised several thousand pounds that evening to help maintain the then new Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park. What an amazing night.

Business makes the world go-around

In relation to those many businesses that I am fortunate to know well (both clients and non-clients), I have come to appreciate how much hard work goes into making a business successful and sustainable. The daily challenge of dealing with all of the challenges that life throws at it!

I have also had the privilege of being involved with the Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce. I believe that Carpenter Box (as was) was the first registered member of the Chamber back in the 20s so its great that we continue to support what is a thriving and important local voice for business. I was honoured to become its President in 2017 and thank its members and Executive for the support they gave and the work that goes on promoting business generally.

Looking forward

I find it difficult to believe that as I step away from MHA Carpenter Box, we still have no certainty on the Brexit question. But I do know though, is whatever the outcome, businesses will have to trade their way out of the mess that the government has created for us. I’ve every belief that they’ll do so but like many others, I have a sense of betrayal that we’ve been put in the position in the first place.

I’d like to take this last opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. It’s not always easy to be in business, but in my experience having the support of a great team means that you can achieve pretty much anything. Good luck!