Son follows in father’s footsteps at family firm

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After nearly 20 years at the helm of the Masham-based Black Sheep Brewery, its founder is to hand over day-to-day control of the business to his eldest son.

Paul Theakston will still be intimately involved in the brewery in his new role as chairman but his son Rob will take on the sole managing director role. Father and son have been working as joint managing directors for nearly two years to ensure a smooth handover.

Outgoing chairman Tony Robinson will remain on the board as a non-executive director following six years of sterling service.

Rob, 36, joined the family business in 2007 as an assistant brewer after qualifying at Heriot Watt in Edinburgh and gaining a number of years experience of brewing and production at Carlsberg Tetley in Leeds.

Paul’s family have been brewing in Masham for six generations, since 1827. The Black Sheep Brewery was built out of Paul’s passion for traditional brewing methods, alongside his love for Masham.

Paul said: “Before my father died in 1968, he explained to me the importance of brewing and the family’s long association with Masham. I became managing director of the old family firm T & R Theakston aged 23 as a trained brewer but the company was swallowed up by Scottish & Newcastle in 1988 and it wasn’t the lifestyle for me. I wanted to stay in Masham and loved the small brewery life and so Black Sheep was born.

“I have four sons who are all very successful, two of whom have chosen to work alongside me at Black Sheep. As well as Rob, my son Jo is now heading up the marketing team and has responsibility for all of the take-home side of the business.

“It will be a great experience spending the next chapter working with my sons and a great management team to take the business forward and continue the success we have had until now.”

The Black Sheep Brewery brews around 70,000 barrels each year, and will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.

Rob said: “When my father purchased the site in 1990, I spent all my spare time and holidays helping to build the brewery. I left school and trained in agriculture and animal science but brewing was in my blood and I quickly returned to the trade in 1997.

“I hope to take the brewery forward with new and innovative ideas, but still keep the traditional values which the business has been built on.”