When entrepreneur Carol Hack first glimpsed a disused quarry, she saw a business opportunity where many would have dismissed it as a hole in the ground. Sixteen years later, the site in Carnforth, Lancashire has been transformed into a large open air pool enjoyed by around 30,000 scuba divers each year.
Capernwray Diving and Leisure's Managing Director, Carol Hack, believes that the Forum's products and services, in addition to our campaigns and research activities, have been vital to the growth of her business.
"I thought that joining would give me a real voice, alongside the other members of the Forum, because, as an individual, I would have had no voice at all. It is a comfort to know that the Forum's services are there should I need them," she said.
"I thought that joining would give me a real voice, alongside the other members of the Forum, because, as an individual, I would have had no voice at all."
- Forum member Carol Hack,
Capernwray Diving and Leisure
Mrs Hack's firm joined the Forum in 1996, the same year that she launched the company, and she regularly votes in Referendum
, the Forum's quarterly ballot of members. Her business concerns include the burden of tax and red tape.
She believes that the issues faced by smaller firms should be at the forefront of the Government's business policies, and is critical of what she regards as its heavy-handedness.
Mrs Hack added: "Capital Gains Tax is a huge issue for me. Many companies have geared their businesses around taper relief, which has been removed in one instant and short-term change, completely scuppering all their plans."
"Tax changes should be made with a bit more thought. They don't consider our point of view I wouldn't imagine that anybody in government has the faintest idea of what it's like to run a small business."
Set in 23 acres of Lancashire countryside, Capernwray Diving and Leisure has five full-time employees running the scuba diving activities, a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, shop and conference centre. The pool itself is populated with a variety of fish as well as all manner of wrecks and submerged objects to explore, including a World War II warship, helicopters and even two giant plastic horses!
Training is provided for workers in the oil, gas and telecommunications industries, and there are scuba diving lessons for novices. Health and safety is, therefore, a daily preoccupation.
"It has become so complicated to run a small business now, in terms of administration, that you need to have the backup facilities of a large company," said Mrs Hack. "I have my business to run, I don't have time to become an accountant, a PAYE expert and a fire officer!"
That is where the Forum's many products, services and business guides can help, and why Mrs Hack is always ready to recommend the Forum to her clients and suppliers.