THE chairman-elect of an historic Scottish timber firm will share his insight into how the business has adapted to the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis at a virtual conference hosted by The Herald on September 1.

Mike Donaldson, who becomes chairman of Fife-based James Donaldson & Sons later this month, will deliver the keynote speech at the first online Scottish Family Business Breakfast, supported by Business Gateway, Clydesdale Bank, Family Business Solutions Ltd, Strathclyde Business School and T L Dallas. It comes amid a momentous year for James Donaldson as it celebrates its 160th anniversary, with Mr Donaldson becoming the six generation of the family to head the company.

Mr Donaldson will be joined on the panel by Peter Facenna, managing director of Allied Vehicles, Giovanna Eusebi, cook and co-owner of Eusebi’s Deli in Glasgow, Lyndsay McGonigle, managing director of Top Drawer UK, and Iain Stirling, owner of Arbikie Farm Distillery.

Hugh Lightbody of Business Gateway said: “Throughout the crisis we have seen a number of businesses successfully modify their offering and services to reach their customers and I am looking forward to hearing first-hand how James Donaldson & Sons have adapted and responded to ensure their business survival during the lockdown.

“As the sixth generation of the Donaldson family, I am confident he will be able to offer advice and guidance to participating attendees.”

John Anderson of Strathclyde Business School said: “Having had the pleasure of judging an outstanding entry and delivering the citation for the 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by Strathclyde Business School, I am particularly looking forward to hearing Michael Donaldson’s vision for James Donaldson and Sons for the next 160 years as he takes over as chairman from his father.”

Billy Andrew of Family Business Solutions noted: “I am really interested in hearing what the keynote speaker has to say about the impact of the pandemic on family businesses, and the best way to navigate and overcome the various problems posed as a result of the crisis.

“I’m sure Michael will also have some valuable insight on the future of family businesses in the wake of Covid, and what kind of counsel and encouragement future generations may require to take their businesses forward.”

David Henderson of Clydesdale Bank added: “At Clydesdale Bank we recognise that in modern business, challenge often brings opportunity.

“During Covid most businesses have understandably been focusing on short term survival tactics, rather than longer term strategic goals.
“The business breakfast will be great chance to hear from someone who runs a family business built up over generations, on how much the last few months have shaped or impacted their longer term planning, and what opportunities there may be for the company as the economy moves through the recovery period.”

Bernard Dunn, client director at T L Dallas commented: “I am looking forward to hearing from Michael Donaldson about the importance of the learning and succession process of a family business, and what business and ethical codes he has learned from his father and grandfather.

“I am also keen to hear about how the oversight board works in a family business, especially for a company of such long history and family values.

“I am sure it will be a fascinating talk, and would encourage all family businesses, from one to 150 years old, to sign up and listen in.”
The event takes place on Tuesday, September 1 from 9.30am-11.30am on event platform hop-in. To register, visit or contact