It’s a surprisingly mild and pleasant day for mid-July in South Africa. A cheerful yet defiant winter sun is set against a canvas of purest sapphire.
At CENTURION’s head office in North Riding, it is lunchtime and, as has been their tradition for the better part of the company’s 30 year history, MD Pat Dickens is enjoying lunch with his family and various other staff members.
Sitting here enjoying the free-flowing conversation and the sun’s warm caress on my neck, I can’t help but reflect on how little has changed in terms of the corporate culture exactly one year since we became part of the global FAAC Group.
This, to me, is an indication of how closely the two organisations are aligned culturally. The old-school family values that made CENTURION great are still very much intact, and one need not look any further than this lunch table on a temperate July afternoon in order to see that.
Pat, his wife Anne, brother-in-law Richard Rohman and the three Dickens boys Rob, Nick and Tim are a closely-knit unit and, besides being people who work together, these are people who actually like one another.
We talk about politics and movies, joke and laugh as the shadows grow longer, reminding us that winter is not done with us just yet.
At times like these, it’s easy to forget that we are now part of a much bigger organisation that’s been around since the 1960s, particularly because we are still part of a family, albeit a much larger one.
The FAAC acquisition has enabled both companies to branch out into new markets and serve an even more diverse range of access automation needs and, one year later, we are truly seeing the benefits of being part of this incredible organisation who has such a proud and unique heritage.
“Perhaps this is because our cultures are intrinsically the same,” explains CENTURION co-founder and MD Pat Dickens. “Both companies have strong family roots and the values and ethics of both companies align incredibly well”.
Regarding being part of a huge multinational corporation, Pat admits that he has had to adapt his thinking to align with this new business milieu.
“One noticeable difference for me is that the FAAC team have made the transition from typical familial thinking to that of an international conglomerate where the meeting of rigorous monthly, or quarterly, targets is mandatory. What I miss, personally, is the freedom to optimise the long-term sustainability ethic of a family business striving for a second and third generation legacy.”
Despite the considerable adjustment, Pat is exceedingly optimistic about the future, especially from an employee development and advancement perspective.
“Personal feelings aside, having a ‘big brother’ is comforting for staff as it opens up new avenues for personal development. After over 30 years, the time has come for changes to the old guard and for fresh, new management to bring the latest thinking and ideas into CENTURION. It is an exciting time indeed to be a CENTURION, part of the dynamic FAAC group.”