WHEN you’ve run a business on your own, joining forces with someone else is always going to be a big undertaking – especially when they’re a member of your family.

But for brothers in-law Joseph Byrne and James Macklin forming a partnership has allowed them to pool their skills and expand the company, which continues to go from strength to strength.

Byrne Home Improvements is now one of the busiest home improvement firms in Glasgow's south side, providing a full range of upgrades including extensions and basement conversions, kitchens and bathrooms, driveways and flooring.

“Some people are wary of forming partnerships because of the issues that can arise but early on we saw the potential,” says Mr Byrne. “Not only can we offer a wider range of expertise – I’m a civil engineer and James is a joiner – but when two people are working hard together and share the same goals, it lightens the load.

“As business partners we are close, but that goes for being family members, too. Family is really important to both of us and our wives are great friends. We’re all in it together.”

When they merged their businesses four years ago, the pair invested in a high street showroom and office in Clarkson, where customers can visit and discuss their options.

“We felt it was important to have a visible base as it helps customers see you are reputable and build up trust,” adds Mr Macklin. “These days young families are looking for big, open-plan spaces. I love seeing the finished article because you get a real sense of how much of a difference it will make to a family – you are giving them the opportunity to spend to more time together, to make their lives better, and that feels really good.”

And, all being well, the partners are about to embark on a new and exciting kind of extension, building and letting industrial and office-showroom space in their local area.

“We’re hoping it will be a new home-improvement hub in the south side, bringing together a range of small businesses in one place, including ourselves, says Mr Byrne. “The area really needs somewhere where small businesses can thrive, where rents are reasonable.

“In future we’d like to bring back Clarkson market and create space for craftspeople and artisans. We want to play our part in making sure our community stays vibrant.”

The men say they learned to think about their business in a more creative way while studying construction management at Glasgow Clyde College.

“We were lacking on the managerial side,” says Mr Macklin. “But the course gave us real confidence in things like pricing, programming works and communicating with customers and contractors – communication is so important in our business.

“The course was great and lecturers were approachable and full of advice. Going back to college was quite challenging while we were running a business but it was really worthwhile.”

As for what advice they’d offer others, the pair say finding the right staff is vital. They now employ 15 people, four of whom have been with them since the apprentice stage.

“You need to be an HR manager, a friend and a psychiatrist all at the same time,” laughs Mr Byrne. “Get good people that you know can do the job and trust them. It’s not always easy to retain the best people but over the years you realise just how important that is.

“We’re very committed to providing apprenticeships because young people deserve a chance in life. And often they turn out to be your best people because you can train them to your standards.

“And we have a fantastic admin manager, Anne, who does so much for us. She has been critical to our success. We wouldn’t be able to take on the projects we do without her.

“I go to the coalface most days because I think it’s important for staff morale. You need to find the right balance between being hands on and developing and overseeing things, while making sure people feel appreciated. But, with the help of our staff, we're getting there."