Since we produced the last edition of the company’s history in 1990 there have been some radical changes, not just in our business, but in the industries in which we operate and, for that matter, the world at large. Liverpool, the home of our company for 200 years, has seen a dramatic turnaround in its fortunes – to such an extent that not only is it now a World Heritage site but is European Capital of Culture in 2008.
It was my father who wrote the introduction for the last book; his death in 2002 was, I need hardly say, a difficult time for our family; but for the business with which he had been so strongly identified for so long, it was a blow, and he is much missed. The changes he had put in train have given new impetus to the Group and I believe he would have been pleased with the growth of the newer divisions, and with the continued strength of the marine business.
In 1990 the internet was unheard of – now work has changed almost beyond recognition and the world has shrunk to the length of a fibre optic cable. At least in some ways. In others, business hasn’t changed since John Bibby founded the company two centuries ago. It is still people who matter: the working relationships within the company and with customers, clients, suppliers and partners. Technology lets us reach further and move faster, but we do business with people, and there’s no substitute for a smile and a handshake.
This book reflects the changes to our business – it doesn’t just look back at our past, but shows a snapshot of our present and may even hint at possible futures. But I’ve refused to make any predictions – weather is notoriously unpredictable, be it at sea or in business: the only thing we can be certain of is that everything is subject to change.
Well, almost everything. Human nature remains pretty constant: most of us want much the same things, when you come right down to it. When it comes to work, by and large we all want to make a decent living, but as important are liking the people we work with, being respected, being given credit for achievement, doing something worthwhile and feel we’re making a difference. All of this shines through the words of the 17 people featured in chapter three – whatever the job they do.
I do believe that remaining a family business has been of huge importance for the Bibby Line Group; the continuity through six generations means a great deal to me, and I hope it creates something of a family feeling amongst our 4,000 people around the world.
The business would be nothing without our people. I hope this book demonstrates my immense gratitude and appreciation for the contribution made by every member of the extended Bibby family, in every corner of the globe. I look forward to our third century and the changes and challenges we will meet together.
-- Michael Bibby