In the space of 11 years, Duncan and Vicki McConchie have created four complementary businesses, with a collective turnover of £1.5 million, all of which have been born out of identifying and meeting the needs of the market.
The McConchie’s family history
The story starts in 1911 when Duncan’s great-grandfather became a tenant farmer of 300 acres on the Solway coast in Scotland – an area of stunning scenery encompassing exceptional sea views.
As early as the 1930’s the family began looking at ways of diversifying the farm business with the first project the conversion of a cow field into a caravan park, and it’s this entrepreneurial spirit Duncan has carried through.
As one of three brothers all of whom eventually decided they wanted to go back home to run and take on the existing businesses, the issue arose as to how the business could sustain the family.
“Before going home I had pursued a career in the television industry and by the time I had decided I wanted to return to Dumfries and Galloway my brothers had already successfully established themselves in the farm and caravan business, meaning there was no real room for me,” explains Duncan.
“I therefore had to think on my feet a little and consider my opportunities. Fortunately, my parents had gifted me an ample area of land in a thriving tourism area and I decided to utilise this to create a business.”
The evolution of four businesses
Initially, Duncan started teaching archery in one of the cowsheds, and as time went on he developed Laggan Outdoor which encompassed a number of unique and challenging activities, one of which was historically Europe’s longest zip wire line.
From the original outdoor activity centre, Duncan has developed three further diversifications each of which has happened as a result of meeting the needs of the market.
“The Basecamp Café evolved from visitors of the activity centre wanting refreshments, our accommodation offering has arisen due to the lack of availability of places to stay within the area, and our latest and most significant investment into GG’s yard, a wedding, conference and events venue fills a gap within our local economy.
“The addition of the businesses means we are now able to secure a year-round income that the activity centre was lacking through the winter months,” adds Duncan.
The main challenge to date has been finding and retaining skilled staff and consequently, Duncan and Vicki have had to find a solution for this.
“All our businesses are built on delivering quality and customer service, and this only comes with having the right people.
“There is a shortage of people within our area looking for work, especially of this kind, and so, as a result, we offer training and staff development which to date has seen staff come back year on year.
“The most important characteristic in a member of staff has always been the right attitude. We learnt from the very start if you employ people who have a can-do attitude, who are positive, personable and customer-focused, everything else can be learnt.”
The businesses the couple have built over the last decade have had a significantly positive impact on the local economy and Duncan and Vicki are huge advocates of the local area. The families background and history are woven into the fabric of each business, and everything they do and implement supports the surrounding area and the people that live and work there.