My Biggest Mistake: Ricky Christie - When father knows best

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The Independent Online
Ricky Christie, 46, is director-general of the family business The Speyside Distillery, which produces 500,000 litres of whisky per year, including Drumguish and The Speyside.

"MY GREATEST mistake was that I underestimated my father's ability and judgment.

We were very conscious that we didn't have our own production facility. It requires a certain amount of long-term thinking. You can have a distillery but it takes time for the fruit of the industry to mature. It's a minimum of three years, but nearly 10 years before you are able to market the product. I decided that I would buy an existing one.

I went into long negotiations but didn't tell my father. When he heard, he went ballistic. He said we were destroying the family heritage, as it had always been our ambition to build on the Spey.

Fortunately there was a way out. The vendors said it wasn't enough money. That was fortunate for me - because actually our company would have gone bust. My father, meanwhile, had gone away in a huff and had completed our own distillery on the Spey. But if I hadn't put the cat among the pigeons, he would never have started.

It's been a constructive lesson. Now, I don't take it as an insult if someone says I am a plonker. I will say `Why do you think that?' You have to look at different perspectives sometimes. What's right in front of your face is too obvious, and there's probably a more subtle approach.

Having our own distillery has been our saviour."