The Raymond Brown Group, 29th on the Solent 250 list and comprising Raymond Brown Construction, Raymond Brown Minerals & Recycling, Raymond Brown Building and Wilkins Builders, has been operating as an independent civil engineering and construction business for almost 60 years. As part of our series profiling successful Solent 250 companies, group managing director Kelvin White spoke to Sue Hughes
The economic climate has thrown up various challenges, but within its sector, Raymond Brown Group managing director Kelvin White remains optimistic: ”I am positive for the next three to five years,” he said. ”Conditions have been and are expected to be tough but as a result of our diverse activities we are trading well. Our companies have recognised opportunity and where necessary have been quick to adapt. The building and the civil engineering companies have undergone significant changes, as has the recycling side. With the latter, we have identified gaps in the market which we can exploit, but it’s tough. There are businesses pricing work purely to generate cash for survival, these businesses are unsustainable.”
With its own mineral reserves, experience in recycling, not standing still plus investment in people, the Ringwood-based Group has seen year-on-year growth, with profits rising 56% a year, from £1 million in 2007 to £3.8m in 2010 and has remained at the forefront of its sector.
’I am positive for the next three to five years…. Conditions have been and are expected to be tough but as a result of our diverse activities we are trading well. Our companies have recognised opportunity and been quick to adapt’
If there is a chief obstacle to growth in 2012, White would say it is an overall lack of business confidence and the resulting reluctance of clients to commit to project expenditure. ”It’s frustrating when the media continuously talk of doom and gloom; it affects confidence, yet there are many businesses successfully working through this recession and seizing the opportunity to develop.”
Having undergone an MBO in 2010, the Raymond Brown Group has successfully merged past experience with the drive resulting from the input of new equity holders. It prides itself on an open and transparent ’flat’ structure combined with a commitment to customer service and its staff.
The Ringwood-based Group has seen year-on-year growth, with profits rising 56% a year, from £1 million in 2007 to £3.8m in 2010 and has remained at the forefront of its sector
The waste arm of the Group, which tends to operate from facilities with a 20-mile radius, has plans to enter new markets, and is committed to greater segregation, traceability and keeping ahead of competitors. Its construction team has taken advantage of the downturn and has recruited some excellent people, drawn by the Raymond Brown name and Group culture. Their value is evident and will assist in developing the business further. ”They have thrived in our structure and brought a valuable level of support to certain areas of management,” said White and when asked ”How do you compare against your competitors?” he replied: ”We are significantly more successful.”
Two areas encompassing regulatory issues cause the business concern and both can prove costly in terms of management input. The first is Environment Agency regulations, strictly adhered to by the Group, but not by all. ”I wish it was a level playing field,” said White, ”because the penalties are not sufficient deterrent to unscrupulous firms who may, for example, tip on unlicensed premises.”
The second is employment legislation, where changes are needed to encourage the investment in employees.
White does not shirk challenges in business nor his personal life. Last year he scaled Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife Shirley, taking the total they have raised for Cancer Research UK, which was so vital in her recovery, to more than £10,000. This year they are off along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and White intends to qualify on an aerobatic flying course. Having met his wife skydiving, the only provision which concerns the Group is one of insurance, so he grins as he states he is prohibited from taking another major shareholder up in the air …
He concludes with one message for the Government: ”Please review employment legislation, as the current unfair dismissal regulations and the abolition of statutory retirement age are a hinderance to the engagement of staff when we need to focus on securing employment for young people and giving them skills.”
Raymond Brown Group website